Writings About Music

Jazz Swim

Michael Robinson and Lee Konitz


A while back, I was able to make use of two glorious outdoor pools and hot tubs surrounded by wild pine trees. Going there became a daily or nightly routine, glad to drive to this rustic locale adjacent to Lake Hollywood and Griffith Park.

During one of his weeklong engagements at the Jazz Bakery in Culver City, Lee Konitz and I were in the habit of going for daily walks, and, after his nightly gig, we’d go for a late supper at Cantor’s on Fairfax.

Mentioning my swimming regiment, Lee enthused that he’d like to join me, and so we drove out together one sunny morning, taking Vine turning into Cahuenga cutting through the Hollywood Hills.


One of the pools where Lee Konitz and I swam that day.


Once there, I was dazzled by Lee’s ability to do the backstroke moving in the opposite direction, really like a circus trick. And also analogous to his musical proclivity for weaving melodic tapestries poly-rhythmically against the conventional grain.


Lee Konitz, Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland and Martial Solal create a Just Friends Bird would have loved.


Introducing Lee to a friend from Paris who came down to say hello from her nearby home, he charmed Ginger by speaking in her native tongue, surprising both of us no end.

Lee’s friend and colleague, Stan Getz, loved to swim, too, venturing out into the Pacific on a regular basis while living here back in the forties as a result from joining the Jack Teagarden Orchestra. And this custom was resumed when Stan moved to Malibu later in his career.


Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie and Sonny Stitt soaring over Stan Levey, Ray Brown, Herb Ellis and John Lewis.


Myself, I love swimming at some favorite Maui beaches, but have been lost at sea, so to speak, unable to find a suitable place to swim in Los Angeles having lost my contact at that wondrous setting that Lee loved, too.


Hummingbird Canyon reflects my love of Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and Lee Konitz musical virtuosity.


Ocean Avenue draws inspiration from Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Donald Byrd, Lee Morgan and Chet Baker.


- Michael Robinson, February 2019, Los Angeles


© 2019 Michael Robinson All rights reserved


Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer and writer (musicologist).