Dave Liebman/Michael Stephens: Lineage: Rock and Pop Classics Revisited (2013)
So Lineage, a teaming with drummer Michael Stephens, a Liebman contemporary, and three young up-and-coming players, delving into rock and pop tunes of the late fifties and early sixties may come as a surprise.
Dave Liebman was born in 1946. That means he would have encountered the 1963 surf/rock hit, "Wipe Out," by the Surfaris, when he was 17 years old. The saxophone/rock rave up, "Tequila" came out in 1958. Liebman would have been about 12 years old, an age where many young people discover music. Elvis Presley's "Love Me Tender" came out in '56. You get the idea.
Liebman and Stephen's idea for this Lineage was a re-visitation of the popular songs they had been drawn to in their younger days, and deconstructing then re-harmonizing, and generally reshaping them under the umbrella of the ideas that Liebman has been employing in jazz for the past forty years.
In case you're wonderingand because it sounds as if it wouldn'tit works, amazingly well.
"Mr. Sandman," a sweet and goofy tune, recorded and released by the Chordettes in 1954, seems the least likely of vehicles for a jazz treatment. Stephens's shuffling drums accompany Liebman's soprano sax, playing the melody straight, until pianist Bobby Avey stretches out, taking the mood from gentle whimsey to serious improvisation. The Beatles get two nods: "Eleanor Rigby" and "Here, There and Everywhere." The former, with Liebman on wooden flute, opens with an Eastern atmosphere. Switching to soprano sax, Liebman keeps the melody recognizable until guitarst Vic Jurisa veteran of Liebmans's jazz quartetsteps out with an elastic acoustic solo. On "Here, There and Everywhere," one of the loveliest tunes in the Lennon/McCartney songbook, Liebman switches to tenor sax, introducing the tune on a tender note before he surges into wild and wooly territory, with distinctively Liebman-esque growls and roars over a backdrop of Avey's cool organ flow.
And there's "Woodstock, singer/songwriterJoni Mitchell's late sixties anthem that Liebman and the band lead into dark and foreboding territory.
Lineage, taking familiar pop tunes and turning them inside out, with reverence, is an excellent addition to the extensive Dave Liebman discography.
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