Paul Lieberman: Ibeji (2011)
Ibeji employs two distinct lineups: the first plays American music in the Brazilian style and features the brilliant drummer Duduka Da Fonseca, working his brushes and sticks in tight swirls and subtle reverberations. The second lineup does exactly the opposite, playing more traditional jazz arrangements of Brazilian compositions.
For the most part, they pull off the concept of complementary musical forms joined at the hip remarkably well. Lieberman demonstrates his instrumental mastery and also reveals himself as a formidable composer. On "I Tried To Tell You," he blows a deep blue tenor evocative of a melancholy late night in New York; but on "Azul No Verde E Amarelo" he deploys his flute to deliver a complex jagged ten-bar pattern with a deep Latin tinge. He is a soulful player on any instrument, conveying deep emotional content, particularly on the ballads.
The recording quality of Ibeji does a better job than most of maintaining the realistic scale of the instruments in the sound stage. The stereo image extends deep to the back of the room and out beyond the physical boundaries of the speakers. Recording engineer Danny Bernini has done an excellent job capturing these musicians in a spacious and dramatic way; even when Lieberman uses overdubbing to fill out his sound, the mix retains a natural feel.
The only quibble might be the inclusion of The Beatles' "In My Life." This type of pop music is so closely associated with the original singer-songwriters that covering it can sound contrived. The arrangement is original and it's played beautifully, but it sticks out a little because of its ironclad association with John Lennon.
Ibeji melds different but related musical streams into a single coherent and enjoyable statement. Lieberman's affection for both American jazz and Brazilian music is evident in his compositions and arrangements...and his excellent performance.
Track Listing: Azul No Verde E Amarelo; Inutil Paisagem; Lulu's Back In Town; I Tried To Tell You; In My Life; I'll Remember April; My Bells; Doce Presenca; Estamos Ai; Voa Livre; Beatriz.
Personnel: Paul Lieberman: alto and tenor saxophone, alto flute, percussion. Joel Marten: piano; Tim Horner: drums (2, 4, 6, 8, 9); Rufus Reid: bass (2,4, 6, 8, 9); Jaimoe: drums (10); Nilson Matta: bass (1, 3, 5, 10); Eugene Friesen: cello (7, 10); Duduka da Donseca: drums (1, 3, 5, 10); Zaida Lieberman: vocals (10).
Record Label: Self Produced