Dave Liebman writes in the liner notes, marks the thirtieth anniversary of a groundbreaking session in which he took part with drummer Elvin Jones, bassist Gene Perla and saxophonists Joe Farrell and Frank Foster. This time around, the front line consists of Liebman, Don Braden and Dan Moretti, all doubling on soprano and tenor sax, with bassist Oscar Stagnaro replacing Perla and three others (drummer Mark Walker, percussionists Pernell Saturnino and Jorge Najaro) supplying the group’s rhythmic backbone in lieu of Jones. Rhythmic it is, with an abundance of energy to boot, but as a consistently pleasing musical experience the session is less than wholly successful. Blame it on personal preference, perhaps, but to me a number of the solos, while undeniably full of sound and fury, seem to embody more flash than substance. Aside from that, everything nestles tidily into place, with an admirable choice of material and splendid charts on which to blow. Braden’s saucy “Vail Jumpers,” a charming opener, is followed by another excellent “Latin” number, Rodgers and Hart’s “Have You Met Miss Jones.” Liebman (on soprano) takes his first extended solo on Perla’s sensuous “PP Phoenix,” and it’s good to hear him playing in a more straight–ahead manner than is usually the case. Perla also wrote “For All the Other Times,” on which each of the front–liners solos, while Jones composed “Three Card Molly,” a drum–driven vehicle with impassioned commentary by Walker. Moretti’s full–throated flute is featured on his sparkling “Tiara,” and he shares the stage with Liebman on Foster’s brash “Cecilia Is Love.” Liebman wrote the gladsome “Brite Piece” (on which his soprano solo follows Braden’s), Moretti the rhythmically powerful “Trippin’” (taking his turn on soprano with Liebman moving to tenor). The group wraps things up with Lee Morgan’s bop–Latin hybrid “Calling Miss Khadija.” Here, as throughout, Walker and the percussionists, Saturnino and Najaro, are an awesome force, hammering the session into shape while driving the horns relentlessly forward. Everything is sunny and sharply drawn, and if the solos were a touch less strident and more coherent (our opinion, of course) the album would earn near–perfect marks.
Contact: Whaling City Sound, 560 Pleasant Street, PMB #01, New Bedford, MA 02740–6236. Web site, www.whalingcitysound.com
Personnel: Dave Liebman, Don Braden, tenor, soprano sax; Dan Moretti, tenor, soprano sax, flute, alto flute, bass clarinet; Oscar Stagnaro, bass; Mark Walker, drums; Pernell Saturnino, Jorge Najaro, percussion; Rick Andrade (2), talking drum.