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Lineage: Rock and Pop Classics Revisited

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Dave Liebman/Michael Stephens: Lineage: Rock and Pop Classics Revisited How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

In 2010, saxophonist Dave Liebman and drummer Michael Stephans began tossing around cover song ideas with guitarist Vic Juris
Vic Juris
Vic Juris
b.1953
guitar
, who was featured in the Liebman Group from 1991 through 2012. These conversations were soon joined by bassist Evan Gregor, keyboard player Bobby Avey
Bobby Avey
Bobby Avey

piano
and woodwinds player Matt Vashilishan. The resultant Lineage, subtitled Rock and Pop Classics Revisited, features songs by such cultural icons of the 1950s and '60s as Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley
1935 - 1977
vocalist
and The Beatles
The Beatles
The Beatles

band/orchestra
. Co-led by the saxophonist whose contributions to bands led by Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
trumpet
and Chick Corea
Chick Corea
Chick Corea
b.1941
piano
helped expand the boundaries of modern jazz, the band on Lineage deconstructs rock, R&B and pop classics into...boundary-defying modern jazz.

Gutbucket guitar and tenor sax whip "Tequila" into a froth until the bottom drops completely out, leaving Liebman to freely swing without a net ("a quirky, angular and space funky re-take in 7/8 time," Stephans suggests). In their group improvisation on "Wipeout," the rhythm section keeps churning the original rhythm but Liebman stretches out the melody until it finally snaps. "Walk, Don't Run" dissolves into a hard-charging, piano-less saxophone trio where Liebman's free-fall stretches out the original tune way past the point of recognition. These three tunes use pop to construct jazz that hits as hard as rock.

Liebman and Stephans rework Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder
b.1950
keyboard
's "Visions" to float like a Return to Forever
Return to Forever
Return to Forever

band/orchestra
piece behind Liebman's soprano sax and Juris' acoustic guitar, which rings out in beautiful and clear tones ("Visions" was in the repertoire of the 1970s Dave Liebman Quintet that featured guitarist John Scofield
John Scofield
John Scofield
b.1951
guitar
).

Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell
b.1943
vocalist
's hopeful melody "Woodstock" morphs into an elegy for the legendary lost peace and love of this era, sung in Liebman's piercing, soaring saxophone. "I Only Have Eyes for You" sounds like a Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
1917 - 1982
piano
construction, especially its breathy piano and tenor sax introduction, which echoes Monk's work with Coleman Hawkins
Coleman Hawkins
Coleman Hawkins
1904 - 1969
sax, tenor
; produced to sound like there's worn vinyl record static in its background, "Love Me Tender" comprises a more dark and sinister piano/saxophone duet straight out of Bertolt Brecht.

"What we'd hoped to do was to 'put old wine in new bottles,' using the language of contemporary improvised music to re-clothe 'the oldies' in new harmonies and new rhythms, without destroying the integrity of the originals," Stephans explains. Mission accomplished.

Track Listing: Mr. Sandman; Eleanor Rigby; Visions; Tequila; I Only Have Eyes for You; Walk, Don't Run; Woodstock; Wipe Out; Here, There and Everywhere; Love Me Tender.

Personnel: Dave Liebman: soprano and tenor saxophones, wooden flute; Evan Gregor: electric and acoustic bass; Vic Juris: electric and acoustic guitars; Bobby Avey: acoustic and electric piano, organ; Michael Stephens: drums, percussion; Matt Vashlisan: alto and soprano saxophones, flute, EWI, clarinet.

Record Label: Whaling City Sound

Style: Modern Jazz


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