Stories » Lee Konitz is 90 - Dan Tepfer is 36. They share a drive to conjure deep musical coherence out of a passing moment / WBGO

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Lee Konitz is 90 - Dan Tepfer is 36. They share a drive to conjure deep musical coherence out of a passing moment / WBGO

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The alto saxophonist Lee Konitz is 90 - an NEA Jazz Master, an alumnus of both the Tristano School and The Birth of the Cool; the last surviving musician to have played the inaugural Newport Jazz Festival. The pianist Dan Tepfer is 36 - an astrophysicist by training; an exacting yet exploratory student of the music; the creator of experimental algorithms for digital player piano. What the two artists share is a drive to conjure deep musical coherence out of a passing moment, drawing on every available resource but few predetermined moves.

Another thing they share is a great deal of mileage as a duo. Their new album, Decade, just out on Verve, stands as a noble testament; it's their second proper release, following Duos with Lee in 2009, but it has the feeling of an impromptu address that could only have been made with the benefit of time. The music ranges widely in temperament, even including a few slyly titled tracks - "Alter Ego," "Egos Alter" and "Eager Altos" - in which Konitz overdubs multiple parts. One standout is "Through the Tunnel," which involves an inquisitive melodic foray against a tremulous curtain of pianism, concluding with the briefest taste of Konitz's now-trademark scat singing.

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