532

Dave Liebman Group: Conversation

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
When an artist has as a wide musical viewpoint as saxophonist Dave Liebman, and has released so many albums in a 35-year career that touch on so many aspects of jazz—big band to solo, highly structured to free, acoustic to electric—one would think that there'd be little chance of surprise left.

Wrong. Released in '03, Conversation—featuring his steady '90s group with guitarist Vic Juris, bassist Tony Marino and, in this case, drummer/percussionist Marko Marcinko substituting for quartet regular Jamey Haddad—has clearly been overlooked. And that's a shame. In a time when fans are lauding artists like trumpeter Dave Douglas and guitarists Bill Frisell and Pat Metheny for their ability to intrepidly tackle a diversity of musical approaches, all the while retaining distinctive and recognizable voices, the truth is that Liebman has been doing this all along.

That's not to disrespect any of the aforementioned artists; only to suggest that based on Conversation, Liebman and his group deserve the same kind of attention. In addition to his ability to conjoin a variety of styles into something purely personal, the special relationship he has with guitarist Vic Juris has been instrumental in allowing him the freedom to pursue anything that grabs his attention.

Like those who consider him to be peers—Metheny, Scofield, Frisell, and Abercrombie—Juris' purview is greater than any one album can demonstrate, although on Conversation he's working with arguably his broadest sonic palette to date. His own contributions to the disc—"Shorty George," which, with its sharply angular and processed electric guitar, strummed acoustic, and insistent triplet over four rhythm, feels like an urban alternative to "Two Folk Songs" from Metheny's 80/81; and the aptly-titled "Softly Spoken," where Juris' classical guitar brings Ralph Towner to mind—show the kind of musical discourse Liebman refers to in the album's title. Elsewhere, on Liebman's "Anubis," Juris finds ways to fuse eastern and western harmonic and improvisational approaches.

As, of course, does Liebman. But, like Juris, that's only part of the picture. On last year's quartet release, In a Mellow Tone, Liebman wrote that, after disbanding the Miles and Coltrane-influenced band Quest in the late '80s, "the time had come for me to play and write more composed music with counter lines... eighth and odd meter rhythms, conveying... more tightly organized structures." Liebman's writing on Conversation is unquestionably more complex than the open-ended modal writing he did with Quest—just listen to the idiosyncratic stops and starts of the curiously funky "Tickle Bath," or the chamber jazz ambience of the dark-hued "Renewal," which features a searching arco solo from Marino and an enigmatic thematic core where improvisation and form are completely fluid.

But at the end of the day, despite more structure, it's all about freely spoken musical dialogue within in a variety of musical contexts that still retain a consistent philosophy. Conversation is an advanced work that ranks among Liebman's best and most adventurous; it's predictable only in its sheer un-predictability.

Visit Dave Liebman on the web.

Track Listing: Shorty George; Tickle Bath; Snow Day; On a Clear Day; Renewal; Anubis; Soft Spoken; Twelve, Over and Under; Conversation; Cosmos

Personnel: Dave Liebman: tenor and soprano saxophones, tin whistle, Indian flute; Vic Juris: electric and acoustic guitars; Tony Marino: acoustic/stik bass; Marko Marcinko: drums, percussion; Caris Visentin: oboe (6), English horn (7).

Title: Conversation | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

The Sky

The Sky

Dave Liebman
Turnaround: The Music of...

A Bright Place

A Bright Place

Dave Liebman
Live/As Always

WTC

WTC

Dave Liebman
Quest for Freedom

Lost Horizon

Lost Horizon

Dave Liebman
Five on One

Standoff

Standoff

Dave Liebman
Re-Dial

Album Reviews
Interviews
Radio
Album Reviews
Jazz Raconteurs
Interviews
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Read more articles
On the Corner Live!

On the Corner Live!

Ear Up Records
2019

buy
Chi

Chi

RareNoiseRecords
2019

buy
Quartette Oblique

Quartette Oblique

Sunnyside Records
2019

buy
Petite Fleur: The Music of Sidney Bechet

Petite Fleur: The...

Origin Records
2018

buy
The Unknowable

The Unknowable

RareNoiseRecords
2018

buy
No Fast Food

No Fast Food

Corner Store Jazz
2018

buy

Upcoming Shows

Related Articles

Read New York Trio Album Reviews
New York Trio
By Troy Dostert
July 18, 2019
Read Invincible Nimbus Album Reviews
Invincible Nimbus
By Jerome Wilson
July 18, 2019
Read Syzygy Album Reviews
Syzygy
By Don Phipps
July 18, 2019
Read Visions Album Reviews
Visions
By Friedrich Kunzmann
July 18, 2019
Read Shafted Album Reviews
Shafted
By Edward Blanco
July 17, 2019
Read Live at the Bird’s Eye Jazz Club Album Reviews
Live at the Bird’s Eye Jazz Club
By Don Phipps
July 17, 2019
Read New Year Album Reviews
New Year
By Dan Bilawsky
July 17, 2019