Tafuri: So, this is quite a collaboration
for the both of you that's been going on for a number of
years. How did you both meet initially and begin working
Konitz: I think we have two different viewpoints.
Talmor: There's the true version, and there's
the humiliating version. I'm gonna give you the true version.
Konitz: There's three versions of the truth:
my version, his version, and the truth.
Konitz: I'm gonna tell you the truth first.
Talmor: [Under his breath] Isn't that nice?
Konitz: [To Talmor] But I told you about
your foot before the concert? (Ah, excuse
me. We're just talking it over.)
Talmor: It's the first thing you me at
the end of the workshop.
Konitz: But that's when we met first, as
I remember it. But who cares, ultimately?
Talmor: [Quietly] Well, he does.
Tafuri: I think when two generations get
together and work on an extensive set of projects that have
culminated in a big band, it might be interesting to people.
Konitz: Well, as I recall it, I did a workshop
in Geneva — where Ohad was living at the time — and
I commented that his foot was out-of-synch with his fingers
when he was playing. And someone recently commented
to me that my foot was out-of-synch with my fingers [Talmor
chuckles], and I said, "Goddamn! You just never
Konitz: [To Talmor] Your version?
Talmor: Naw, we met earlier than that. There
was this Swiss composers who hired Lee to do a big band record
that I was involved in.
Talmor: (The truth comes out.) But
then it's true: we befriended each other. I was living
in Geneva at the time, involved organizing things for this
school/jazz club. Then I brought Lee back, first by
himself, then with Kenny Werner, and then some other stuff. The
thing he mentioned is this workshop he gave in Geneva where
he asked me to play a tune, which was "Stella by Starlight," and
it's true that my foot was all over the place.
[Konitz and Tafuri chuckle.]
Talmor: But he didn't say, "You can't
tap your foot." He said, "You can't play
the song ... until you know it."
Konitz: What?! Aw, you're talking
about knowing the melody before you take off on it.
Talmor: No, I was also...
Tafuri: Knowing the lyrics, maybe?
Konitz: I told him about that, but that
wasn't essential. If I hear someone starting to improvise
after fumbling the melody, I suggest they learn the melody
first. That's logical, right?
Talmor: And then the foot.
Tafuri: So, how does it go from that to
these three big projects you have now?
Talmor: It's about staying just as curious
as the first day and giving it his best and giving me a chance — immediately. It's
just gobbling up the music and being interested.
Konitz: It's fascinating to me. I'm
not an orchestrator, so I'm fascinated by ability to dress
up a song and make it much more interesting.
Tafuri: And where did the material predominantly
Talmor: When? Of these projects?
Tafuri: Sure. Of these projects.
Konitz: These projects are the String Quartet,
the Nonet + 1, and the Big Band. The music for most
all of them are my fragments or extended themes that Ohad
has orchestrated ... and a few of his pieces, too.
Tafuri: But most of the material is new material?
Konitz: All of it — except
for "Sound Lee" and "I'll Remember You" — but "I'll
Remember You" is an arrangement that includes the solo
I played on Elvin Jones' trio record. Ohad wrote out
my melody and made an arrangement on it, and then I was supposed
to play it [gives a big, forced smile].
[Talmor and Tafuri chuckle.]
Talmor: He asked me to "correct it." He
said, "Why don't we make it better? Why
don't to change those notes?"
Konitz: If there were some notes that I
didn't like, then we changed them, thinking 'Why not
take advantage of this?' Now, you gotta do it with
the wrong notes.
[Talmor and Konitz chuckle.]
Talmor: A lot of people would pay a lot
of money to play wrong notes like that! I told him
Konitz: Well, I appreciate that, but wrong
Tafuri: Maybe he's playing the right wrong
Konitz: Thank you. I appreciate that.
Tafuri: But this collaboration was done
over a period of time, right? So, Lee, how did you
get the music to Ohad ... or how did you receive it, Ohad?
Talmor: Well, Lee moved to Europe and was
kind of based out of Germany, and I had moved to New York
a few years earlier than that, but we always kept in touch,
and he faxed me these things. So, I have stack of faxes
[demonstrates the size of the stack size by holding his hands
in front of him about 40 cm apart]. I mean, it's great;
I take great care of them.
Konitz: That's a little big exaggerated. You
don't have no stack like that. You have a stack like
this [holds out his thumb and index finger about 2-3 cm apart]
Talmor: That's like a dictionary size,
basically. I have 150 to 180 pieces so far, and I
organize and pick from them. There's all this
stuff, and he faxes me non-stop.
Konitz: I do this anyway but, with his
encouragement, I did it a little more determinately. They're
things I like to do spontaneously, without thinking about
publishing them or making a career out of playing them. I
still play "All the Things You Are" on all my gigs. So,
I really appreciate all the encouragement. [To Tafuri]
I just told him that I have a whole bunch of fragments waiting
at home to drop in the fax machine. The next project
is going to be with symphony [orchestra].
Tafuri: With so many things, how did you
pick music to work on?
Talmor: It's a combination. Lee expressed
the desire to work on special colors, like blues, so he faxed
over 485 blueses ... or Rhythm changes. Or we needed
to do a ballad, so some of them are immediately-conceived,
as such, as ballads. Incidentally, the ballads that
Lee sends me, the slower paced tunes, usually come out finished;
there's hardly anything to do to them. The faster moving
lines, usually they're more fragmented.
Konitz: Yeah. Yeh-yeh.
Talmor: And it's like that. There's so much
stuff, there's so much material and its surprisingly
varied; it's not this linear, monotonous material. It's
very, very diverse, so there's a whole lot to look from.
Konitz: I write just from hearing something
without an instrument. When I play my horn, I play
a phrase that I like, and I jot it down and go from there
with the instrument, basically, or sitting at the piano and
improvising and coming up with something. So, I have
motivations, so to speak.
Tafuri: How do these fragments come to
Konitz: Revelation and, as I told someone
last night, I was listening to woodwind section little rehearsal
(of the OJM) and I thought, 'I've never heard that
before!' I've listened to Ohad's arrangements quite a few
times, but there's always something new to hear ... and,
especially, listening to some of my themes. I even
asked him about a tune once, over the phone — I'd made
some corrections on the sheet — and he said, "We
recorded that one already!" "Damn!"
[All three laugh.]
Tafuri: How did you approach arranging
his music? After all, here's — and I don't want
to embarrass you, Lee — a "giant of jazz" who's
know predominantly for his small combo/ensemble recordings
and for duos and trios and quartets, mostly. How do
you take that familiarity and expand it into these big band
Talmor: With a whole lot of convincing
and a whole lot of complaining from "the other side."
[Konitz and Talmor laugh.]
Konitz: What do you mean?
Talmor: No, it's a practice that evolved
over time. I did take great care to try to customize
the arrangements to what Lee wants. I overburdened
him at the beginning with just writing a bunch of material
that would be too much [for him] to deal with. And,
as I started to understand how he functions as an improviser
and as a musician in general, I'm able to address his creative
process more specifically. It's difficult, because
it's a large ensemble. There are a lot of things that
are involved with the writing, so it's never going to be
a completely loose situation for Lee; he's never going to
be able to let go of the page completely. In the arrangements,
I try to give Lee the liberty to be "away from the page" and
to keep what's going on behind him less intrusive. One
of the processes I use is mostly contrapuntal; I rarely use
chordal writing, I don't hear things like that. So,
since Lee is such as contrapuntalist, it [the arrangements]
seem[s] to be connecting. There are all these lines
that happen all the time, and I think that's more
in keeping with Lee's playing.
Konitz: The situation is very complicated
for me. You know, you're playing "by eye" (so
to speak) when you have to look at the sheet [of music],
trying to do it correctly. As soon as I close my eyes
and start to play, I don't know where I am on the sheet. So,
I'm looking to him [Ohad] to give me a cue. But the
most important thing — and this starts with our "obligation" or
desire to play with whomever we're playing with — is
to listen to them and react and, hopefully, respond. In
this situation, it can be mutual, in terms of the intensity
of how they play it. But, if I'm not listening to the
orchestra and am just concerned with making noise (like I
was at the rehearsal yesterday — I was just trying
to do my function), I don't feel nothin', if you'll
excuse the English. I didn't feel anything. And
I promised to wait, at least, until I hear something until
I begin to play. I referred to myself (kind of half-jokingly)
as "a faker," and that's what I was doing yesterday
by not listening in responding to all this beautiful stimuli
that Ohad's presented.
Talmor: It's very important what Lee's
saying. I don't want to "rub it in" or anything,
but this points out — in Lee's own words — just
how high the bar is placed when he improvises. Lee
is one of a rare breed of true improvisers, and
that's what sets him apart from the vast majority of what's
going on in the jazz world today . He truly improvises;
he truly "opens it up" and dances a tightrope
number. He's never going to take a shortcut — never — and,
when you do that, sometimes you fall on your face. But,
in Lee's case, it's not that often. Magic is achieved a
whole lot of times, and how many times do you have that
situation? With Lee, it's an everyday lesson.
Konitz: When I talk to kids, I point out
that I have a little more assurance from having done this
for a long time, so that they can have that too, if they
can hang in there long enough.
Tafuri: I wanted to talk a little more
about the arrangements because, Ohad, you were talking about
how you tried to write things contrapuntally rather than
chordally, because that was in keeping with Lee's playing,
and so it sounds like you thought a lot about Lee's interaction
with the band and with the music. But did you give
any thought to how audiences — especially audiences
who were listening to Lee 20 or 30 or however-many-years-ago — might
react to the "reworking" of his music? Is
that, at all, in your thought process?
Konitz: It's secondary.
Talmor: Yeah, not really. I mean,
it's been very interesting to me to hear people who've been
around way before me, who grew up listening to Lee (you know, "old-timers"),
who listen to Lee's playing in these more sophisticated contexts,
and it's always not a revelation, but a "Wow!" There's
always a "wow factor" comment.
Tafuri: The reason I asked is because it
was interesting when we were making the New Nonet recording
live. There were a lot of people coming out to see
Lee play who, under normal circumstances, might not really
like the modern arrangements. But within the context
of keeping true to the music and spotlighting Lee a arrangements
that were very true to his improvisation concept, the positive
reaction was amazing!
Talmor: Yes, because you were witnessing true
music making, in the moment, and it doesn't matter
what form it takes. I'm sure if you went to see a
great tabla player — and you don't understand anything
about that musical vocabulary, or you go to see a great
sitar player or koto player or whatever. When they
bring the art form to that level and you witness that live — because
it's another thing to see it on TV or whatever — but
to see the actual molding of the musical shapes into a
very substantial thing that one can relate to, that makes
a world of difference.
Konitz: That's why what so-called "free" music
and to hear what "Butch" Morris or Karl Berger
before him does, you hear a lot of density and maybe it adds
up to be not a great piece of music, but it is spontaneous,
and that has an infectious pull.
Tafuri: May we talk a little bit about
some of the tunes on the big band recording? There's
one tune that jumps right out, called "June '05."
Konitz: Well, I put dates on the little
pieces I write, and that was done on that date. I started
the piece with three 5/8 phrases [sings phrases] or something
with that kind of feeling, which Ohad changed right away.
Konitz: It was too complicated. So,
he made it groups of fours.
[Konitz and Talmor chuckle.]
Konitz: Anyway, that was the first part
of that series of phrases, and then he took over.
Talmor: "June '05" was the most
difficult piece for me to work on, because it has a chameleon
personality. It had these over-the-barline figures,
these groups of 5s and 7s. It was very nice, but it's
not a symmetrical way of writing. And if I had, with
all due respect, gone that way, it would have been too complex,
and it would have defeated the purpose of writing it for
Lee ... and I really didn't hear it like that either. But
that was the piece that gave me the most work to come up
with something. I think it's a piece that works very
well, but I think it's the piece that's the least "united." It
goes from one place to another, and it journeys through different
styles. And the only real thread, besides Lee, is in
the melodic fragments, which I laid a certain way stylistically:
straight 8ths; really swinging, Thad Jones-Mel Lewisy style;
Salsa; "open" piano solo, free. It just jumps
here, and it's just these groups of five 8th notes and seven
8th that I use as a bridge between all this material.
Tafuri: And it was those fragments that
stimulated you into thinking about these different styles?
Talmor: Yeah, because it was a very challenging
piece. I remember he faxed it to me; I think I have five versions
that you [Lee] faxed me that have been better.
Talmor: I wrote the date "June '05," then "June
15th," then "July 2nd." At one point,
I lost track, so I had to concentrate on just one version.
Konitz: I certainly encouraged Ohad to
change anything he felt [needed changing]. I usually
wrote — sometimes I didn't even put harmonies — just
so he could get something then, the next day I looked in
the [fax] machine and added something here, subtracted something
there, et cetera. So, that was a work-in-process.
Tafuri: It's interesting hearing you both
talk about linear writing and contrapuntal writing and writing
tunes without chords, because there's also a tune on here
called "Ornetty," because that's what Ornette's
music was like: linear, without chords, sometimes contrapuntal.
Konitz: That was a more "larger interval" kind
of thing, though I don't think of Ornette as using larger
intervals — maybe Eric Dolphy.
Konitz: But the piece reminded Ohad of
Talmor: It has this really crisp melody
that's diatonic and yet moves abruptly from one place to
the other ... and is very swingin'! You called
it "Ornetty" on the fax you sent.
Konitz: Oh, yeah.
Talmor: I mean, the shape [of the piece]
is a very unique shape. There's so much food in it
from which one can extrapolate. That's the thing: sometimes
Lee doesn't realize (to some extent) how rich his stuff is.
Konitz: The problem is for me, with that
kind of a texture and that kind of intensity in the theme,
you're supposed to follow it up [with equal or greater intensity]. That
was the problem in the early days playing the Tristano, kind-of-eighth-notey
lines: before the first chorus was over, the intensity was
way up here [raises his hand above his head], and then you
took over and were supposed to raise it higher. When
you play a standard melody, you can start down here [indicates
waist-level with his hand] and build up. I can't follow
up that theme too much.
Tafuri: I never thought about that while
listening to all those Tristano recordings — after
all you, you worked with him. After you're done playing
the head, where do you go then?
Tafuri: I mean, where do you go from there? That's
Konitz: Well, that started with bebop,
basically, when the lines became more intricate.
Tafuri: There's another "date" tune
on the CD; there's a tune called "September 11th."
Talmor: Lee just sent it to me on September
Talmor: But it was a beautiful melody. I
mean, it's a gorgeous, gorgeous thing. In
that particular piece, he didn't have chords, I think. It
was just the melody without the chords or just a few chords
here and there. And then we embedded its arrangement
between two "Ornettys" as a contrasting element. Of
course, now it's going to create an historical question mark
of 'September 11th — Lee Konitz has been very
influenced by those events.'
Tafuri: It'll be interesting —
Talmor: — to see what they say.
Tafuri: It'll be interesting to see what
they read into the title because, after all, that's what
it amounts to anyway: how the listener hears the music or,
at least, how they interpret the music.
Konitz: That reminds me... I was
in Germany when I saw a television clip, after hearing an
announcement on German radio, and I was supposed to come
[to New York] the next month to play three nights with Paul
Motian in a duo at the Shapiro Center at Lincoln Center. And
I said, "Gee, why would I do that? When people
are suffering like that, they don't want to hear two guys
making up some stuff." And I went, because I wanted
to do it and, after playing for an hour, I thought, 'Gee,
for one hour, people don't have to think about that tragedy.'
So, it felt very functional, somehow. Just a thought
there, about September 11th...
Tafuri: The contributions of artists in
that time — especially in the healing process — were
On the previous recording, the New Nonet recording, you have
the blues. Now, on this one, on the Big Band recording,
you have the Rhythm changes.
Konitz: With the symphony, we're going
to do some klezmer, I think.
[Talmor, then Konitz laughs.]
Talmor: I'd pay to see that.
Konitz: [Laughing.] No way!
[The two laugh again in succession.]
Tafuri: So, it was your intent to do a 'Rhythm
suite,' or did it just come out of the creative process?
Talmor: No, that was the intent. I
think Lee came up with the idea of doing a blues suite; he
had a bunch of blues lines.
Konitz: Yeah, as a little exercise, I was
writing blues in all keys. So, it seemed like a good
idea to orchestrate them.
Talmor: So, we just came up with the 'Rhythm
changes suite' — a bunch of different keys, a bunch
of different meters.
Tafuri: But it was the same idea, in that
you wrote new tunes with the idea of a suite in mind.
Konitz: Well, I was hoping they
could be used.
Tafuri: And, of course, we have "All
the Things You Are" —
Konitz: I like that tune!
Tafuri: I love it, too. But we have
a permutations of "All the Things You Are" on your
recordings. And on this one we have "Too Marvelous
for Words" in the form of "Sound Lee." That's
a tune you recorded some time ago.
Konitz: I recorded that in —
Talmor: 1891 —
Talmor: Ah, '49.
Tafuri: So, that was one tune were you
[Ohad] weren't inventing something new or making something
new out of it. This is something people have in their
ears from recordings.
Konitz: Three people ... that I know of.
Konitz: And they can't even remember it. [Laughs.]
Talmor: You know, the whole repertoire
of the Big Band project has an intent to go from the earlier
composing side of Lee (including "Sound Lee," which
was one of the earlier pieces he wrote) and exploring all
the different aspects — compositionally and in different
settings for improvisation. A very straight-ahead — if
you can call it "straight-ahead" [chuckles] — arrangement
of "Sound Lee" —
Konitz: It's like straight-ahead —
Talmor: Going to the very free moments
of "Ornetty," going to a more "European" sound
of "Relative Major," of exploring various passages
more like a journey through time of all the things Lee's
been able to extrapolate.
Tafuri: Did you feel like you had more
of an opportunity to explore with the big band with different
timbres and colors and so on?
Tafuri: [To Konitz] You talked about what
it's like having to play your notes and play your parts,
but how does it feel playing within a big band setting?
Konitz: I love the situation. You
know, I played with the Stan Kenton Orchestra for a year-and-a-half. Every
night, we played the [same] music. So, you got to know
it, and you got to compare an inspired performance with a
not-so-inspired performance. This is still the getting-to-know-it
process. So, it feels — whew ! — a
little bit, well, less-than-fully satisfying sometimes, knowing
that I get lost and things like that. I like to close
my eyes and listen, and I can't quite do that. But
when it finally gets under the pressure of the performance,
usually something works for me that makes it more real.
Tafuri: Both of you talked earlier, indirectly,
about what each of you gets out of working with each other. But
I'd like to turn that question around and ask you what each
of you feels like you're contributing to the other as an
artist in these projects?
Konitz: The first validation that I got
was Ohad's encouraging me to write these fragments and then
that the results were so interesting to me and, last of all,
that people are responding to it.
Talmor: Oh, a lot of things, really. In
a way, I see my musical relationship with Lee almost as in
a guru-disciple way. How many young musicians — and
I still consider myself to be a young musician — today
have the chance of being taken under the wing by an old master? [To
Konitz] And this has been going on for fifteen years now,
you know, this relationship? And just get carried along
the way. Every new step brings a learning experience. I
still feel like I have a whole lot of mountain to climb but,
interestingly enough, I was talking to my good friend Dan
Weiss, the drummer, who is a great tabla player and who undertook
the study of tabla with a guru, this great teacher Samir
Chatterjee, who says, "Sure, it's a 30-year process." Usually,
you don't start playing until you're 39-40 years old; that's
when the teacher lets you play — solo. It's
never going to happen like that in the contemporary jazz
world and in contemporary society (and so forth), but having
the privilege to be able to follow in his footsteps and,
for me, whatever I can do to bring out his own music, it
just enhances my learning process.
Tafuri: There's another tune here that
you were talking about when you were describing the broad
scope of the CD, this tune "Relative Major."
Konitz: Well, first of all, it's his [Ohad's]
title and, of course, I knew of the "relative minor" situation,
but I didn't quite get the significance of "Relative Major." As
I recall, at that moment, it was a bunch of fragments.
Talmor: Actually, it was a long piece that
started in C minor and ended in E-flat major, hence the "Relative
Major." It went the other way; it started dark,
and it ended brighter.
Konitz: I never knew that.
Talmor: [To Konitz] Yeah, it's very nice. So,
it's a very long piece; it's a 64-bar form.
Konitz: And if you could see these three
or four pages; he's written out — at my request — the
melody with the chords, so I have some reference to the melody. And
it's just black and white up the kazoo [sic], as they say,
and I'm trying to, you know, see it and everything. That's
a practical look at it but, musically, it's a very interesting
culmination of this getting together.
Tafuri: [To Talmor] Yeah, because
in the scope of what you were talking about before, you made
it sound like this was one of Lee's more fully realized modern
Talmor: Yes, it was. It was kind
of an A-B-A or A-B-C form, so it was very thought-out:
the first part in minor, the bridge (if you will) has a rubato
with no time or pulse, and the third part's contrasting material
to the first part, but in a different key with a different
feel. It's very well thought-out. He's
[Lee's] being modest, but I think he's very thorough with
the composing aspect, which is a very underrated side [of
Lee]. Especially now, I've noticed that everybody's
starting to play Lee's tunes more and more, you know, "Subconscious
Lee" — these lines that he wrote in the 1800s —
Konitz: [Chuckling] He's just kidding,
Talmor: But, in case the of this particular
line, "Relative Major, it's very detailed, very detailed,
when chord changing is happening, at what specific moment. And
the impression I got from it was almost a European feel,
so that's why I explored a more European, contemporary side
with these masses of sound punctuating the beginning and
end, this very thick twelve-voice chorale that moves as a
big "texture," as opposed to just single lines. And
that's just another "shade" of the things that
Lee is able to build on. And then he goes into this "swinging
thing." It's all these things. But they
were embedded in the piece, I felt.
Konitz: I was just thinking of this collaboration
phenomenon, of Duke Ellington with Billy Strayhorn, Miles
with Gil Evans, who else? Of those two, especially,
I was just browsing through a book on Billy Strayhorn, 'cause
I wondered, I know that Duke Ellington couldn't
have written and arranged all that music. And
everybody that seems to know insists that he did, and I won't
believe it. Billy Stayhorn was the workhorse in that
situation. And Miles had many facets to his career;
[his collaboration with Gil] was just one of them, but he
encouraged Gil to prepare these great settings for him, and
Tafuri: And, from what I understand, those
weren't easy charts either. I heard there were a lot
of issues getting those right in the studio.
Konitz: Oh, yeah. We never did, actually. There's
still some kind of clumsy playing in there.
Tafuri: You've mentioned "European" a
couple of times, so I wanted to bring it more specifically
to this recording with the Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos. What
kinds of cross-pollination came out of working with a Portuguese
band, a band that has its own "life," sort of,
that wasn't put together specifically to do this recording? Are
there things about this collaboration that pop into your
Konitz: The first thing for me, always,
is the fact that someone invites me to be part of a project. That's
pretty much how I work all the time. If people wouldn't
invite me, I'd be home practicing a lot, so I appreciate
that. Then, I see how hard these guys are willing to
work and have to work to play this music, because
it's difficult. And, you know, these aren't world-class
musicians thrown together like you'd find in New York. What
happens with the world-class musicians in New York [is that
they] sound like a bunch of world-class musicians who were
thrown together for that situation.
Konitz: We haven't had enough opportunity
to work, yet, to make it really relaxed and completely functional
and effective but, for me, to see all these guys so serious
is very inspiring.
Talmor: Well, there are two things. The
first thing is that how in Portugal (not necessarily the
world capital of jazz) the reality of the music is so prevalent.
Konitz: It's great.
Talmor: It's so essential. And the universal quality
of it was a shock for me, coming here into this setting,
not really knowing what to expect. You know, I mean,
Pedro [Guedes] asked me to write the music after just having
heard me, basically, once. I didn't really
know the orchestra, except for one recording, and so it's
been a great experience witnessing these guys completely
and fully dedicated and having a complete grasp of the jazz
vocabulary as being their own. I think it's admirable. This
particular project with the Matosinhos Orchestra is a great
example of what's right in the music [today].
Konitz: And Ohad, from my experience, is
a very "helpful" instructor. He's very patient,
very willing to explain exactly what the instruments should
do. He was able to suggest to our string quartet [in
an earlier project] the fingerings to get certain effects
and everything. So, the musicians will listen, knowing
that he knows what he's talking about. There's the
danger of the language [differences]. Frequently,
I think Ohad gets a little poetic in his descriptions, and
I see question marks over heads...
Talmor: I feel that, too. I finish
a phrase, and there's a big, long blank.
Konitz: Yeah, I mean, it's very beautifully
said, but I don't know if your guys [to Pedro Guedes, sitting
in the room] understand some of it.
Tafuri: Well, it's been fun watching, because
you [to Talmor] do some in French, you do some — a
lot — in English. You do a smattering of different
Konitz: Hebrew. If we had a Hebrew
guy, you [to Talmor] would talk in Hebrew to him. [Chuckles.]
Tafuri: And there's a whole other thing
going on, because the band is playing music that, I think,
is quite different for them — non-traditional
Jazz Big Band vocabulary — so there's a real growth
and coming together.
Konitz: Yeah, it's beautiful.
Tafuri: You know, there's a lot of "stuff" that's
been going on with this recording and the upcoming concert:
musicians are learning new music and applying their skills
to new styles; Lee is sort of "re-learning" his
own music and playing in a new context, that of a big band;
Ohad's having to work in a new context and adjust and even
re-write. Lee, you've already said how sometimes you
feel a little "uncomfortable" because you'd just
like to be able "to play." So, I guess what
I'm asking is what do you think comes out of all the effort
of this experience?
Konitz: The satisfaction of undertaking
a project and making it work is what the result is. It's
great satisfaction ... and you even get paid for it!
[Talmor and Tafuri laugh.]
Konitz: [Leaning to one side and tapping
the wallet in his back pocket] And I got it right here. [Chuckles.]
Talmor: Besides all the other things we've
talked about, for me, after spending many hours writing the
music and now getting to hear it, it's a great thing.
Konitz: His wife looks down into the workroom
and says, "When you gonna come up, man?!" Then
about eight hours go by... I mean, that's serious;
you can get a divorce doing that.
Tafuri: Everybody's making big commitments
for this; everyone's having to really commit themselves to
this project. And you don't often see this level of
commitment in the jazz world. You'll see it in the
classical world. I'm not saying "ever," but
it's pretty rare.
Talmor: There's a specific dynamic between
the relationship between Lee and me and this orchestra, with
you and the OmniTone label (which is very precious — your
willingness to put out the three projects that we've been
working on for a few years).
Konitz: Very unusual.
Talmor: All these things coming together — from
my limited experience — is admirable. I don't
know what is going to change because of it — we're
all going to die eventually — but this recording won't. Hopefully,
it's echoing truth for the listeners.
Konitz: Incidentally, I wasn't just being
silly by saying "not me," because I've always felt
that I was going to live forever; that was my rationale for
not practicing enough when I'd hear about Coltrane practicing
eight hours a day and Bird practicing fifteen hours a day
the first few years. Anyway, I just thought I'd interject
[Laughter all around.]
Tafuri: I had one more question for you,
Lee. It might be a silly question, but... Has
there been anything in your career — and you've worked
with so many different artists and ensembles — we're
you've felt like the kind of growth you've had on these projects
Konitz: No, with the big bands, I was just
part of the saxophone section ... with a solo, occasionally. With
a string quartet that I recorded many years ago that Bill
Russo wrote, it was done in the studio. He had me in
mind, so I was able to be featured on that, and there are
some nice things, but it was just done during the recording
date and was never performed anyplace. So this is a
very unique project.
Tafuri: And, I think the big thing is that
it really is a collaborative process, and that comes
out more and more.
Talmor: Oh, yeah.
Tafuri: And it's really reflected on this
project in that there are co-composer credits on just about
everything on the project.
Talmor: Very generous.
Konitz: Well, it's because he dressed up
these "little themes," he's partly the composer.
Tafuri: [To Talmor] And he's still calling
'em "little themes."
Talmor: Yea, it's very —
Konitz: I mean, if you compare it to the
orchestra for three or four pages, this repeat of eight bars
or something is a "little theme."