Lee Konitz, one of the most celebrated jazz saxophonists around the country passed away yesterday due complications caused by COVID-19, according to various sources including Billboard. He was 92 years old.
Konitz's son Josh told NPR about his death. He died at the Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. He was survived by his children Josh, Paul, Rebecca, Stephanie, and Karen.
Konitz was born in Chicago on Oct. 13, 1927 to Jewish immigrant parents and was first learned how to play a clarinet when he was 11. He switched to play saxophones a year later. He is most famous for his work was his collaboration with the late Miles Davis in the album "Birth of the Cool." But before his work with Davis, he was a part of jazz orchestras led by Teddy Powell. He was also mentored by Lennie Tristano, a renowned blind pianist. He also became friends with Charlie Parker, a fellow saxophonist and worked under Stan Kenton and Claude Thornhill.
He started to his solo career in 1949 with his album Subconscious-Lee, which was released in 1955. He helped in advancing the "cool jazz" sound during the 50s and the freer and improvised style in the 60s.
"I'm constantly amazed still at the miracle of improvising," he said in an interview with The Guardian in 2000. "That's what's so intriguing for a whole lifetime, because in really trying to improvise I have the benefit of those surprises."
He had heart issues in his later years and almost died but he was recovered after two successful surgeries. He continued to play his saxophone in his 90s and held a European tour in 2018 and a private performance in his 92nd birthday.
He has also got many awards for his talents like the NEA Masters Award in 2009 and as Alto Saxophonist of the Year by the Downbeat Magazine Critics Poll in 2010. In 2013, he was awarded the German Jazz Prize.
During his seven-decade career, he worked with various labels like Atlantic, Prestige, Polydoe and Verve. Konitz is one of the last active musicians to play in all of the three branches of Birdland in New York City, according to Billboard.
Konitz was married twice and had five children, three grandchildren and a great-grandchild, according to The Guardian obituary.
Other deaths from coronavirus
Lee Konitz was added to the list of musicians that died due to the coronavirus pandemic or COVID-19 according to a Billboard article. Konitz is now with the likes of John Prine, Hal Willner, Eddy Davis, Adam Schlesinger, Manu Dibango, Joe Diffie, and DJ Black N Mild.
As of this writing, according to Worldometers.info and the Johns Hopkins University, there are more than 2,000,000 cases with over 137,000 deaths and more than 526,000 recoveries. In the United States, there are more than 646,000 cases with over 28,000 deaths and more than 49,000 recoveries.