"Following Lee Konitz, Again" by Randy Snyder
(Notes provided by the
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.