The Wire - 1/01, p.73
"...The quartet plays discreetly, and the Konitz sound remains seductive....gelling beautifully..."
CMJ - 11/20/00, p.26
"...A pretty record....The saxophonist's soft, gentle tone...makes this union acoustically seamless....Great for sitting around, drinking tea and discussing philosophy..."
Down Beat - 4/01, p.684 stars out of 5
- "...Warm, pastel, fuzzy encounters....roaming French post-romantic and impressionist landscapes....[The band] achieve porous, haunting timbres throughout..."
Personnel: Lee Konitz (alto saxophone).
Axis String Quartet: Meg Okura, Rob Thomas (violin); Judith Insell (viola); Catherine Bent (cello).
Recorded on January 16, 2000. Includes liner notes by Lee Konitz, Matt Balitsaris and Ohad Taylor.
Konitz has recorded with strings before but never like this: all alone in front of a string quartet sans rhythm section in a collection of arrangements of pieces by the French classical composers Koechlin, Chausson, Ravel, Faure, Debussy, and Satie. Unquestionably the sound and techniques of this fusion lean heavily toward the classical end, yet that mere bit of categorizing just scratches the surface of these elegant, serious, often provocative recordings. Arranger/musical director Ohad Taylor isn't afraid to inject bits of avant-garde glides and dissonances into his charts, and he loves to throw in quotes from other related or unrelated works. Ravel's "Berceuse Sur le Nom de Gabriel Faure," for example, opens in a near free-form mini-frenzy, and the strings continue to flutter about seemingly quite freely, throwing in some of Mahler's "Symphony No. 1" in the bargain. Although the Axis String Quartet generally sticks to classical style with a minimum of improvisations, the 72-year-old Konitz flits easily between the idioms without always making it apparent which one he is in at any given time (though Konitz's work in Faure's "L'Absent" has more of a jazzy feeling than the other tracks). Konitz's legion of fans are in for a pleasant, challenging surprise with this one. ~ Richard S. Ginell