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Lee Konitz/Steve Swallow/Paul Motian, Three Guys (50:42)
ENJ-9351 2, 1999
Enja Records
P.O. Box 19 03 33
D-80603 Munich, Germany
Cyberhome: www.enjarecords.com

        Altoist Lee Konitz, who gets top billing on this record, has a 
sparse, cryptic improvisational style that lends itself well to the 
left-of-center, quasi-free aesthetic favored by bassist Steve Swallow 
and drummer Paul Motian. Recently Konitz led a very different, yet 
equally provocative, trio project with Brad Mehldau and Charlie 
Haden, which resulted in two live albums for Blue Note. This time 
there's a drummer, no piano, and a bassist who couldn't be more 
unlike Charlie Haden. In addition, unlike the Blue Note trio's 
exclusive focus on standards, most of the program on Three 
Guys consists of originals. Konitz's distinctive voice is there, 
but we hear it against a background of very different moods and 
	Konitz's "It's You" opens the album cleverly: Each player 
takes a 32-bar unaccompanied solo before all join in together, making 
the moderate swing tempo explicit. Konitz also contributes 
"Thingin'," based on the chord changes to "All the Things You Are," 
and the final track, "A Minor Blues in F." On both the opener and the 
closer, Swallow and Konitz play weaving eighth-note melodies in 
unison, but their execution could be tighter - toward the end of the 
blues cut they even run off the rails at one crucial point.
	Swallow penned the well-known and beautiful "Eiderdown," as 
well as "Ladies' Waders," a medium swing tune that might be based on 
a standard. The simple, rubato lyricism of the two Motian 
compositions, "From Time to Time" and "Johnny Broken Wing," brings to 
mind the Motian/Frisell/Lovano trio. Swallow's chordal, guitaristic 
approach to the electric bass makes this association even stronger. 
Two non-originals are also featured - "Come Rain or Come Shine" and 
Jobim's pretty "Luiza." Swallow's tasteful accompaniment on the 
latter is noteworthy.
	A collaboration between these "three guys" seems natural, and 
so does the overall concept of the record in light of recent projects 
they've each undertaken. Swallow is a member of Motian's Electric 
Bebop Band, for one thing. Both Konitz and Motian have been exploring 
permutations of the trio concept, the former with Mehldau and Haden, 
the latter with Gary Peacock and Paul Bley. In addition, the 
standards-oriented material on the disc recalls Swallow's whimsical 
yet inspired reworkings of standard repertoire on his two brilliant 
albums for the Xtrawatt label, 1994's Real Book and 1996's 
	But despite the compatibility and heavy-hitter status of the 
three guys, some of these performances have a thrown-together 
quality. The idea, I'm sure, was to keep it loose. But at times it's 
a little too loose.
~David R. Adler, 1/18/00

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