Combos Of Conception


Prestige Records must have been an amazing place to work in the late-1940s and early-‘50s, when Sonny Rollins, Stan Getz, Lee Konitz, Gerry Mulligan, Miles Davis and so many other stars recorded for the label. By combining the cream of several sessions led by these stars, Conception (Original Jazz Classics, 1990) paints a unique portrait of this “Prestige-ous” place and time.

Konitz stretches like a yawning cat into two saxophone-guitar duets. He first surveys, then quickly deconstructs and reassembles “Indian Summer” in his unique arid sound, cool as a nightfall breeze across a desert landscape. His original “Duet for Saxophone And Guitar” pushes their duet into further abstraction, yet remains as warm and bright as “Summer.”

Getz’s tenor sparkles through two his originals: It’s the perfect singing voice to front the slinky melody and shimmering cymbals of “Intoit,” and his breathtaking, impeccable control thoroughly slays “Prezervation” (for Lester Young) with flurries of notes, delivered rapid-fire but soft, like velvet bullets.

The title track is George Shearing’s but Miles Davis makes it his own from home base in the bebop tradition. Davis plays so fleet and smooth that, even though he would ultimately abandon this tradition, you can hear his place in its lineage. He never fully stopped playing ballads that burned with the searing emotional intimacy of “My Old Flame,” either. And he never completely abandoned this voice -- hushed but direct, soft but powerful, and still glowing with power six decades later.