Album Remarks & Appraisals:
"When pianist Mehldau, sax legend Konitz and bassist Charlie Haden got together on a 1997 Blue Note session, it not only showed how sympathetic to improvising on familiar songs all three were, but it also helped put the then little-known Mehldau on the map. They reconvene on this captivating live set – totally unpremeditated, without even a setlist – with Paul Motian added on drums. Konitz's sometimes plaintive alto sound and outwardly meandering explorations can suggest a rather ascetic music for those unused to intuitively spun improv that takes a relaxed view of the integrity of famous tunes. But Mehldau's uncanny amplification of Konitz's phrases, and his breathtaking solos on Lullaby of Birdland, Solar, and You Stepped Out of a Dream (in which the pianist Haden and Motian sound even more of a dream team than might have been anticipated) are irresistible, as is Konitz's imaginative distortion of the architecture of I Fall in Love Too Easily, and the classical-sounding duo rhapsody that piano and sax get into at its close. Nor is this exclusively a low-key exercise: it includes four-way up-tempo discussions that fizz with collective energy." -The Guardian
"This unrehearsed, week-long New York gig saw done-to-death material given the kiss of life by four masters. The music they made, in its ability to touch emotions and its capacity for adventure, where much is implied and relatively little explicit, is arresting... Two memorable ballads, Lover Man and I Fall in Love Too Easily , are song-like, superbly knit performances full of timeless beauty, burnished by gloriously original alto and piano from Konitz and Mehldau, by Haden’s magisterial bass and subtle drum commentary by master colourist Motian. They do free thinking just as strikingly in the forensic dissection of Miles Davis’s Solar and Sonny Rollins’s Oleo , with liberties of line, rhythm and harmony married to mutual awareness, order and surprise. And they apply a supple swing to outside-the-box explorations of Lullaby of Birdland and You Stepped Out of a Dream." -The Irish Times
Down Beat (p.58) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "The older guys sound great, if ultra laid-back, wending their way dreamily through six standards..."
JazzTimes (p.64) - "These masters couldn't be better suited philosophically....Mehldau shares the group's reverence for standards and the notion that 'free' can be soft, slow, smart, subtle and sophisticated."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.101) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "The quartet's set consists of six jazz standards, all beautifully rendered, benefitting from almost 300 years-worth of musical experience."
Personnel: Lee Konitz (alto saxophone); Paul Motian (drums); Brad Mehldau (piano); Charlie Haden (double bass).
Audio Mixers: James A. Farber; Manfred Eicher.
Recording information: Birdland, New York (12/2009).
Photographer: John Rogers .
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