from: Elements (3/11/04)

"Following Lee Konitz, Again"
by Randy Snyder

(Notes provided by the composer)

One of the most attractive aspects of Jack Kerouac’s work to a musician is his deep love and knowledge of jazz. Born in 1922, Kerouac was living in New York City in the mid forties, just at the time when Be-bop was beginning to emerge . He  frequented  the legendary clubs  on 52nd St. near Times Square, hearing  the likes of Charlie Parker, Lester Young  and Thelonious Monk. He also developed an obsessive admiration for Lee Konitz., an alto saxophonist best known for his cool recordings with pianist Lennie Tristano.

In “Following Lee Konitz, Again” , a passage taken from Kerouac’s novel ,“Visions of Cody”, the writer sees  Konitz  in Mid-Town Manhattan and begins  surreptitiously following him, eventually to Manny’s, a favorite music store and hang-out of jazz musicians and hipsters. Along the way, the sights of New York trigger numerous vertical digressions: memories of his past, as well as daydreams of the future. The piece concludes with Kerouac finding himself at Times Square gazing up at the giant marquees of films such as “Quo Vadis”.                                     

The music of “Following Lee Konitz, Again” attempts to suggest the temporal organization of the text by utilizing three different tempos, the quickest, which opens the piece, used  for the present tense, and two slower speeds, for the out of time musings.  The trombone is  mostly  muted, only playing open near the end, when we reach the “frenetic lights of Time Square.” Tonight’s performance is the first of an expanded version  adding percussion.