Lee Konitz on his first instrument

Now, A Jazz Moment...

MUSIC: "Broadway," CD: A Proper Introduction to Lee Konitz: Palo Alto , Proper Records Intro CD 2025 (cut 16)

Lee Konitz: I told someone the other day that I've been playing the saxophone for 70 years. I said, "Jeez, I should be better than I am for 70 years!"

NEA Jazz Master Lee Konitz is considered by many to be the pre-eminent alto saxophonist of the "cool jazz" movement. He got his first instrument at age eleven - but it wasn't a saxophone...

Lee Konitz: I was inspired by Benny Goodman and his Orchestra as a young man, hearing them over the radio. And I asked my dear parents for a clarinet. And then I learned that in order to play in a band you have to play the saxophone first. So I got a saxophone and decided that that was the voice that I liked especially. It wasn't as difficult as the clarinet! (chuckles)

MUSIC: up and fades

This Jazz Moment with alto saxophonist Lee Konitz was created by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Lee Konitz's first instrument