To alto saxophonist Lee Konitz, jazz has always been an adventure. He acquired his dedication to pure melodic improvisation early, as a founder of cool jazz along with pianist-teacher Lennie Tristano, and he’s sought out a unique and wide range of challenges in the 40-odd years since–big and small bands of varying shades, pioneering solo sax and duet performances, cool and hot jazz, swing, bop, and outside jazz settings even an appearance at one of Derek Bailey’s break-all-the-rules festivals. His light, limpid, uninflected sound, his combination of high harmonic sophistication with sweet, simple melody, his occasional droll humor, and his urge to stimulate ensemble interplay all make him one of the most influential and insistently individual jazz artists alive. This week he’ll open with a quartet at the Jazz Showcase, then lead the ad hoc after-festival shows there for the next four nights. He’ll also play Thursday at the Jazz Festival with William Russo’s Classic Jazz Ensemble–39 years ago Russo was the leading arranger and Konitz the alto soloist in possibly the best band Stan Kenton ever led–and next Friday with the Laurence Hobgood Trio. That promises plenty of variety for five days, which is just the way Lee Konitz likes it. Wednesday, 6 PM, and Thursday through next Sunday, September 1, 10:30 PM, Joe Segal’s Jazz Showcase, Blackstone Hotel, 636 S. Michigan; 427-4300. Thursday, 6-10:30 PM, and next Friday, August 30, noon-5 PM, Chicago Jazz Festival, Grant Park, Columbus and Jackson; 744-3315.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Lauren Deutsch.