Jeff Denson is not an everyday jazz musician. The Sonoma State University department of music sponsored “The Jeff Denson Trio,” which featured Lee Konitz. The SSU Jazz Orchestra and music major students made up the majority of the audience.
Konitz was engaged with the audience as he made funny remarks in between songs and comments to his fellow performers. “The Jeff Denson Trio” and Konitz performed a variety of instrumental melodies that were both original works and cover songs.
As part of the SSU Jazz Week, the SSU Jazz Orchestra warmed up the audience before “The Jess Denson Trio.”
The SSU Jazz orchestra, led by the director of Jazz Doug Leibinger, performed an array of catchy and upbeat songs with a variety of instruments harmonizing with each other.
Denson is a jazz composer and bassist and who is currently the lead or co-leader of four ensembles.
When he pursued his career in jazz music, Denson received his doctorate from the University of California San Diego, produced a pair of recordings on pfMENTUM Records and toured throughout the United States and Europe.
He is an educator who shares his musical abilities with young musicians at the California Jazz Conservatory at the University of California, San Diego.
“Jeff is also an outstanding composer who has written music for jazz and classical ensembles. He is always thinking outside the box and bringing his musicality and lyricism to all of his work,” said Konitz of Denson.
Konitz is a jazz composer and an alto saxophonist.
“Being a jazz musician is being an improviser, and being an improviser means taking risks and searching for new challenges,” said Konitz.
Konitz has performed in big bands and orchestras before becoming the lead of his own band. He performed in Miles Davis’ “Birth of the Cool” nonet and recorded and toured with Stan Keaton’s orchestra.
He then recorded “The Lee Konitz Duets,” a series of duets with various musicians drawing on the history of jazz music.
Konitz produced and released a number of free and avant-garde jazz albums.
He released albums on contemporary free jazz and improv labels such as hatART, Soul Note, Omnitone and ECM. Like Denson, Konitz toured extensively throughout Europe and Japan performing with many younger jazz musicians.
“The Jeff Denson Trio” featured Konitz on the saxophone, Denson on the bass, Joshua White on the piano and Jon Arkin on the drums. Denson and White have previously worked together on a record called “I’ll Fly Away.” Denson and Konitz have been in an ongoing working relationship since 2007.
“I have had the great pleasure to perform and record with [Denson] throughout Europe, the USA and Canada as a member of my quartet. Jeff is an exceptional musician who is a creative force on the double bass and has an original approach and voice on the instrument,” said Konitz
The performance by Trio featuring Konitz included songs by Konitz, Denson and their favorite artists. Some of their songs included “Thing,” “I Should Care,” and one of Denson’s favorites, “Alone Together.”
In addition to the instrumental performances, Konitz and Denson vocally harmonized with each other as they played. They even hummed along to the chords of the instrument, keeping beat with the music.
The Trio had a mesmerizing way of connecting to the audience and engaging them in the performance. The musical melodies that Denson performed were beautifully composed.