Unlike the somewhat frantic and passionate be-bop, Konitz’s style was considered more laid back and cerebral. While some dismissed it as too passive, most recognized it as a unique path for those who wished to blaze a new and unique harmonic style.
While Konitz wasn’t as well-known as a lot of his contemporaries, he was much-admired in the jazz world. He also taught for many years from his Manhattan apartment to a worldwide legion of acolytes.
Born in Chicago on October 13, 1927, Konitz was the youngest of three sons of immigrant parents. He studied the clarinet as a child with a member of Chicago Symphony Orchestra, then started on tenor before switching to his trademark alto saxophone in the 1940s.
Along the following decades, Konitz worked with many of jazz’s giants, including Lenny Tristano, Gerry Mulligan, Gil Evans, Miles Davis, Tyree Glenn, Stan Kenton and others.
Konitz was married twice and is survived by sons Josh and Paul, and three daughters, Rebecca, Stephanie and Karen, three grandchildren and a great-grandchild. No memorial service details have been revealed.