Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » David Liebman Group: Blues All Ways

487

David Liebman Group: Blues All Ways

By

Sign in to view read count
David Liebman Group: Blues All Ways
While the blues is one of the clearest roots of conventional jazz tradition, few but saxophonist Dave Liebman could release an album that covers as many stylistic bases as Blues All Ways.

There's good reason why Liebman can create a blues homage ranging from the 7/4 Memphis shuffle of "Elvis the Pelvis" and lithe, harmonically sophisticated swinger "Down Time" to the ethereal "Riz's Blues." With a quartet with this much shared history, the saxophonist has a lean but highly flexible unit that can not only handle anything he throws at it, but can lob more than a few surprises back at him. Any release from this group is worth hearing but Blues All Ways, like the largely undiscovered masterpiece Conversation (Sunnyside, 2003), stands out amongst its growing discography.

A quick look at Liebman's forty-year career reveals a player for whom there's nothing not worth pursuing. From free-flowing acoustic duets with pianist Marc Copland to the dense jungle funk of Miles Davis' 1970s fusion, Liebman's ability to thread a stylistically multifaceted needle with a personal approach that combines the expressionism of John Coltrane with a more concise focus makes him not just the most accomplished soprano saxophonist alive today, but an equal threat on tenor as well.

He's also got a sense of humor, opening the rocking "Elvis the Pelvis" with the most bluesy wood flute you'll ever hear; trading licks in free time with Vic Juris' gritty electric guitar before the group settles into a definitive shuffle. Even when this quartet kicks out the jams there's greater depth to the harmonies as it straddles the line between rock attitude and jazz complexity.

As visceral as Liebman is, the underappreciated Juris is equally compelling—a guitarist who, like Liebman, is predictable only in his unpredictability. Even when soloing with a mix of imaginative lines and self-accompanying chords, the injection of a brief series of Lenny Breau-informed harmonics here or a touch of flamenco finger-picking there make it clear just how broad his reach is. Juris also contributes two compositions to this largely Liebman-penned set: the Eddie Harris-like soul/jazz of "Compared to Who" and the metrically challenging "Blues Tripper," which proves him a textural equal to the better-known Pat Metheny, John Scofield and Bill Frisell.

Throughout, bassist Tony Marino and drummer Marko Marchinko handle the shifting landscape with commitment and credibility. Neither gets much solo space, but their keen intuition and flexible grooves make them as vital to the group as Liebman and Juris.

An ambling "Bessie's Blues," by Coltrane, closes the album in more conventional territory, but Juris' combination of bluesy bends and outré lines, alongside Liebman's mix of bebop phrases and occasional screams, makes this a valuable take on this often-covered standard.

Liebman couldn't have picked a better title than Blues All Ways—an album that proves that even the simplest of premises has infinite potential in the hands of a group that's this well-connected and stylistically unfettered.

Track Listing

Elvis the Pelvis; Down Time; Riz's Blues; Blues Mirage; Compared to Who; 64 Strings and a Reed; Blues Tripper; Bessie's Blues.

Personnel

Dave Liebman
saxophone, soprano

Dave Liebman: tenor and soprano saxophones, wood flute; Vic Juris: guitar, electric guitar, steel string guitar; Tony Marino: bass, electric bass, Stick bass; Marko Marchinko: drums, percussion.

Album information

Title: Blues All Ways | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: OmniTone

Comments


For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

Tags

More

Tidal Currents: East Meets West
Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra
This Celestial Engine
This Celestial Engine
Flax
Martin Arnold
Whisper Not
Paul Kendall

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.