Lee Konitz on not following Charlie Parker

Now, A Jazz Moment...

MUSIC: "Kary's Trance," CD: Inside Hi-Fi Koch Records (ASIN B00000J8L1) (cut 1), (iTunes download)

NEA Jazz Master Lee Konitz is one of the few alto saxophonists of his generation who never followed in the footsteps of bebop giant charlie parker.

Lee Konitz: You know, actually I learned his music, a lot of his music. But you know, I'm not of that disposition. The first time I heard it, it was too much for me to even enjoy. I could just marvel at it, but I was listening to Johnny Hodges and people like that.

Through the years, konitz has been a noted sideman on many jazz sessions, including miles davis's groundbreaking "birth of the cool." he's led his own groups as well, but still prefers the mentality of sideman to that of leader.

Lee Konitz: I stand in front of the rhythm section; I would prefer to stand behind it actually, but somehow visually that's not the hippest thing to do. And I let everybody call the shots -- the way they start a tune or whatever. But I accept the responsibility of being the name that gets the job and hopefully have something to say about the spirit of the music.

MUSIC: up and fades

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

Lee Konitz did not follow in Bird's footsteps