Niemack stands apart as one of her generation’s most celebrated vocalists. Niemack is originally from California; her jazz studies began with saxophonist Warne Marsh, who famously studied and performed with piano polymath Lennie Tristano along with Konitz. Niemack moved to New York City in the late 1970s and began to make a name as a vocalist, writing lyrics for and collaborating with many well-known musicians, including Pat Metheny, Kenny Barron and Konitz.
Dan Tepfer has become an important figure in his generation’s developments within the worlds of jazz, modern classical and improvised music. His path within jazz crossed with Konitz very early on, whereby he established a long-running collaboration with the saxophonist.
In September 2012, Niemack invited Tepfer to record at Acoustic Recording in Brooklyn, New York. There was a special emphasis on improvisation and interpretation during the proceedings...Listeners can hear the incredibly creative treatments from Tepfer and the joy that both brought to the recording.
Konitz’s “Listening To You” is based on the chord changes of “All The Things You Are” and features lyrics Niemack wrote at the saxophonist’s request, which she turned into a tribute to Konitz. Tepfer and Niemack perform a lilting version of the chestnut “Body and Soul,” which is followed by “Like a Butterfly,” a piece written by her friend, pianist Ronnie Mathews, her original lyrics describe the carefree dancing of a young girl whose responsibilities are yet to come.
Niemack’s bittersweet “You’ve Taken Things Too Far” is about taking stock after the dissolution of a relationship and coming to unexpected realizations about love. “When Chick Came Around” is another composition by Konitz with lyrics by Niemack that heralds the work of the great pianist Chick Corea. Niemack revisits Gorney and Clare’s “You’re My Thrill,” having originally recorded it with Cedar Walton on her first recording, here with pathos and drama. The extemporary version of Monk and Clarke’s “Epistrophy” is a true revelation and testament to the duo’s singularity. The program concludes with Kern’s “All The Things You Are,” a beautiful sendoff.
Niemack and Tepfer are two exemplary musicians regardless of instrument, who find a way to make music resonate and creativity to blossom, as their hero Lee Konitz has done for decades. Listening To You is a wonderful example of the legacy being passed and beauty being made in its honor.