532

Dave Liebman Group: Conversation

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Dave Liebman Group: Conversation 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).

Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Repeater" CD/LP/Track Review Repeater
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 5, 2016
Read "New York Connections" CD/LP/Track Review New York Connections
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: August 7, 2016
Read "Never Group" CD/LP/Track Review Never Group
by Mark F. Turner
Published: March 23, 2016
Read "Big City Love" CD/LP/Track Review Big City Love
by Edward Blanco
Published: April 24, 2016
Read "Shelter" CD/LP/Track Review Shelter
by Budd Kopman
Published: June 15, 2016
Read "Fake It Until You Make It" CD/LP/Track Review Fake It Until You Make It
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 17, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!