David Liebman / Mike Murley: Day and Night (2007)
Day and Night is a smoking live set featuring saxophonists Dave Liebman and Mike Murley, supported by bassist Jim Vivian and drummer Ian Froman, with pianist Jeff Johnston guesting on the fiery closer, John Coltrane's "India." Recorded for CBC Radio [Canadian Broadcasting Corporation] during the 2003 Atlantic Jazz Festival in Halifax, Nova Scotia, it was released to celebrate the group's reunion at the Rex Jazz Bar in Toronto, where they first met the same year.
The high level of group synchronicity is quite natural since Murley studied with Liebman in the 1980s and counts him as a major influence. Furthermore, Murley, along with Vivian, Froman and Johnston, has influenced the next generation of younger Canadian musicians including pianist David Braid, with whom he plays regularly.
The set has that special somethinga palpable excitement to which the audience responds clearly and the magical "without-a-net" feeling, created by the players feeding off each others' energy.
As the rhythm section and constant voice below the soloists, Vivian and Froman are razor sharp, never letting up for a second. Responding instantly both to each other and to what is happening in front of them, they provide a constant push with continuous variations that is the hallmark of jazz rhythm. That which is subordinated when supporting the action bursts onto the surface when they get the chance to solo.
Naturally, most of the attention goes to front line of Liebman and Murley. Liebman was originally inspired to pursue a jazz career by John Coltrane and the influence is clear, but also present is that of pianist Lennie Tristano, with whom he studied. His playing paradoxically combines the abandon of the former with the control of the latter, producing highly emotional lines that still possess an intellectual structure. Murley's connection to Liebman is also very evident, but so is his own voice. Amongst the most telling moments is when the two play against each other, sometimes in harmony, elsewhere as commentary.
The set flies by starting with Liebman's title tune, which begins with a unison thematic declamation in a light rhythm that progressively develops and builds in intensity. Murley's "That's What You Want" smolders and simmers to a low modal boil. While they trade soprano and tenor saxophones on those first two tunes, Tadd Dameron's delightful "Gnid" features dual tenor saxophones, and is given a perfect, laid back, cool and buttery smooth groove.
Before Johnston joins the group for a very intense, eighteen-minute version of the Coltrane classic, "India," Liebman speaks about his history and that of the players on the stage, making the point about students becoming peers and the joy of making music together.
Day and Night is what jazz is all aboutplayers who, while working within a personal style, always extend themselves and never stand still, bringing the audience along with them for the ride.
Track Listing: Day and Night; That's What You Want; Gnid; Introduction by Liebman; India.
Personnel: Dave Liebman: soprano and tenor saxophone, Indian bamboo flute; Mike Murley: tenor and soprano saxophone; Jim Vivian: bass; Ian Froman: drums; Jeff Johnston: piano (5).