The Book Of Jazz - online reference book

Its Nature, Instruments, Sources, Sounds, Development & Performers

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96                              THE INSTRUMENTS, THE SOUNDS, THE PERFORMERS
Parker, as musicians were quick to find out, was a genius whose talent transcended any consideration of the instrument that happened to be his medium. It was not long before a score of others had arisen whose styles were identically patterned. In one sense the process could be described as imitation; it meant too that Parker had created for jazz a new musical language which many soon learned to speak fluently.
Sonny Stitt, who followed Parker as a Gillespie combo asso­ciate, was the first and best of these alto men, although later he was to acquire an even wider reputation playing tenor sax. Art Pepper, playing with the Kenton band off and on from 1943-52, was one of the most adept technicians to drink deep m the Parker well.
Lee Konitz bore the same relationship to Parker as Miles Davis to Gillespie in bop's evolution to its cool phase of the late 1940s. A maverick in modern jazz, he played Parker com­positions in a Parker style on his early records with Claude Thornhill in 1947 and '48, but later was polarized by two magnetic associates, Lennie Tristano and Miles Davis. The former helped to shape Konitz' prescient harmonic knowledge and unconventional melodic lines; Davis was the counterpart in Konitz* tonal approach, smaller and more languid than that of the early boppers. Konitz spent a year in the Stan Kenton band (1952-3), adapting himself remarkably well to the shock treat­ment of this ornate setting, but for the most his best work has been accomplished at the head of his own small groups, and on the memorable Miles Davis recordings on Capitol.
Another new alto sound, lighter in texture and clearer in tone than that of Konitz, and with a smoothly-moving melodic line that has always managed to swing in the explosive setting of the Dave Brubeck Quartet, is that of Paul Desmond, a San Franciscan who rose rapidly to prominence after joining Brubeck in 1951, and who since Parker s death has been the most popular alto man among American jazz fans. Largely neglected by Euro­pean critics until recently, Desmond swings with all the dynamic force of which intelligent understatement is capable; moreover, his intellectual approach is such that he and Brubeck have in­dulged in polytonal and polyrhythmic counterplay. His work,