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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steuart Liebig / The Mentones: Angel City Dust

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Angel City Dust marks the third outing for bassist Steuart Liebig's largely aggressive and rowdy quartet, where progressive and avant-garde jazz uncannily coexist with high-impact blues-rock. Nevertheless, the musicians can lay claim to a deviating, multi-genre outlook that is morphed into a singular sound, partly due to chromatic harmonica ace Bill Barrett's frontline work with alto saxophonist Tony Atherton. Then Leibig adds another compelling element via his limber bottom-end and fluent unison lines with the soloists.

Drummer Joseph Berardi's often pummeling and turbo-mode backbeats offer a mammoth undercurrent. Driven by spirited sax and harmonica breakouts, the musicians lay ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steuart Liebig Tee-Tot Quartet: Always Outnumbered

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A Post-Modern Renaissance Man, West Coast bassist Steuart Liebig is a classically trained composer with numerous pieces to his credit, from orchestral scores to works for unaccompanied contrabassguitar. Liebig calls upon myriad sources as inspiration for his varied projects, from his formative experiences in blues and rock bands to early sideman gigs with soul jazz pianist Les McCann and free saxophonist Julius Hemphill.

Liebig brings his expansive compositional knowledge to American roots music on Always Outnumbered, the debut recording of the recently formed Tee-Tot Quartet (named after bluesman Rufus Payne, an early mentor to Hank Williams Sr.). Similar ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steuart Liebig Tee-Tot Quartet: Always Outnumbered

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The latest concoction from bassist Steuart Liebig is a conglomeration of progressive jazz and American roots music. An unlikely combo indeed, yet the leader and his quartet pull it off and make it all sound quite endearing and vibrant, to complement the organic attributes devised within the acoustic-electric format.

On this extravaganza, cornetist Dan Clucas summons imagery of 1920's hornist Bix Beiderbecke, coupled with dobro player Scot Ray's boisterous jazz-blues phrasings. However, it's Leibig who clearly shines as the director of operations here, as his fluidly pumping lines anchor the variable flows along with drummer Joseph Berardi's snappy groove attack. ...

INTERVIEWS

Steuart Liebig: Mentone Mentor Merges into the Fast Lane

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On July 27th, LA new music mainstay Steuart Liebig curated a Cryptonight in Culver City dedicated to showcasing several of his many diverse compositional creations under the rubric, Steuart Liebig Concerto Night/ 50th Birthday Megalomania. Co-celebrants and performers included the southland A-List: woodwind multi-instrumentalists Vinny Golia and Andrew Pask, guitarist Nels Cline, trumpeter Jeff Kaiser, bassoonist Sara Schoenbeck, violinist Jeff Gauthier, keyboardists David Witham and Wayne Peet, and percussionist Alex Cline, among others. His second CD with the 21st century blues breakers the Mentones, Nowhere Calling (pfMENTUM, 2006), has seen release, with several new projects in the works as well. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jeff Kaiser / Andrew Pask / G.E. Stinson / Steuart Liebig: The Choir Boys with Strings

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In following their duo session, The Choir Boys, with this quartet performance a year later, Jeff Kaiser and Andrew Pask once again reach out into the realm of electronic music, unfettered by convention. The Choir Boys with Strings adds guitar and bass to the mix, giving Kaiser's trumpets and Pask's woodwinds an added layer of sounds. They're wild and raucous throughout, making sure that eerie refrains capture the day.

Each of the four artists converses through his instrument, taking nods from the others and employing a free-flowing stream of ideas. Kaiser's trumpets come in open and muted form, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steuart Liebig / Stigtette: Delta

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While he's experimented with larger ensembles on albums like Pomegranate (Cryptogramophone, 2001), contrabassguitarist Steuart Liebig tends to favour the more intimate context of the quartet. But his groups have been anything but conventional, with his three Quartetto Stig albums featuring violin, trumpet, contrabassguitar, and drums, and last year's Quicksilver (pfMentum) a combination of flute, violin, contrabassguitar, and percussion. Still, despite the unorthodoxy of his instrumentation, there's always been a rhythm section.

Not so on Delta, which, for Liebig, most heavily blurs the line between contemporary composition and improvisation. Featuring flautist Ellen Burr (back from Quicksilver), clarinetist Andrew Pask, and bassoonist ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steuart Liebig/Minim: Quicksilver

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Finding a meeting place between contemporary chamber composition and improvisation can be a challenge. All too often artists who spend their time in the more rigid confines of the classical world fail as improvisers, because they work most commonly with formal structure, where expression is defined in terms of subtle nuances in dynamics and phrasing. Pure improvisers, on the other hand, are sometimes too liberal, unable to work comfortably within a more rigorous form.

Still, there are an increasing number of artists managing to bridge the gap--and they're coming from both ends of the spectrum. The Kronos Quartet, on its ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steuart Liebig: Quicksilver

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On this set bass guitarist Steuart Liebig shows none of his rock credentials and nearly no jazz affiliation. It's a set of European concert chamber music, thoroughly organised. It's hard to determine how much is improvised, how much written, how much just a filling in of sketches. Is this a compilation of recordings of various improvisations, rather than the recording of complex compositions which existed before the session?

This range of musical resources wasn't available to, say, Debussy, but its closest affinity is to Western concert chamber compositions which integrate matter from or imitate oriental and various folk musics from ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steuart Liebig: Quicksilver

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Bassist/composer Steuart Liebig has been one of LA's most prolific jazz jugglers for years now. At any given time, he may have half a dozen bands in the air, a couple behind his back, and a few improvisational relationships on the side. Over the last decade, he's put out recordings on Nine Winds, Cryptogramophone, Cadence Jazz, and pfMentum, but his release schedule doesn't begin to keep up with his visitations with the muse.

In stark contrast to the bluesy bite of the Mentones' Locustland , Liebig's previous pfMentum outing, Minim's debut offers an almost chamber jazz approach to the listener. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steuart Liebig/Minim: Quicksilver

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Steuart Liebig has championed creative improvised music in Southern California for more than a decade. Seeing him in a live performance, you quickly realize that his ensembles are all about teamwork and cohesiveness. His passion spreads all around the room as Liebig and his bandmates explore each theme with a fresh aura. It's contagious. Before long, you find yourself stomping and tapping to the music as it winds its way through powerfully built themes and highly rhythmic episodes.

On Quicksilver, each member of Liebig's improvising quartet works collectively as well as individually. As leader, the bassist encourages each ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steuart Liebig/The Mentones: Locustland

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From the label's name comes a moniker for Steuart Liebig's creative blues band: The Mentones.

Creative improvised music has many forms. This Mentones session combines the swing of jazz with the spirit of the blues. Each of the foursome participates equally, as harmonica and alto saxophone step up to the front line, and bass and drums provide a strong foundation. Liebig's electric bass leads the quartet over hills and valleys, through exotic designs that fit his piece titles in a rather loose fashion.

The broom has a special significance in blues jargon. So do boxcars, honky ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steuart Liebig: Pomegranate

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Even in its quieter moments, Steuart Liebig's new ensemble effort, Pomegranate, projects a sense of excitement. Sometimes it's the spark of discovery, other times it's the joy of companionship, and often (not to be underrated) it's the unexpected pleasure of getting lost and then finding the way back home.

On Pomegranate Liebig's tunes travel along a route consisting of city streets, back roads, and barely marked trails through the woods... and in the end, the path itself bears just as much interest as the destination. The composer's approach on this record emphasizes the intimate juxtaposition of formally arranged structures and ...



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