All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Extended Analysis

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

171

Dave Liebman: Dave Liebman/Richie Beirach: Unspoken

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Dave Liebman / Richie Beirach
Unspoken
OutNote Records
2011

It's one thing for individual artists' voices to be instantly recognizable, another thing entirely when a readily identifiable language evolves amongst them, one that's absent when they're apart. There's no mistaking the bop-rooted expressionism that saxophonist Dave Liebman imbues with oblique lyricism, whether with his longstanding group on Turnaround: The Music of Ornette Coleman (Jazzwerkstatt, 2010) or in a new collection of largely old friends on Five on One (Pirouet, 2010). Nicknamed "The Code," pianist Richie Beirach's personal marriage of jazz vernacular with that of classical composers including Béla Bartók, Alexander Scriabin and Anton Webern dates back to solo recordings such as Eon (ECM, 1975) through recent release Round About Bartók (ACT, 2001). But when The Code gets together with 2011 NEA Jazz Master Liebman, something special happens—something that transcends individuality and enters the realm of collective idiom.

Collaborating frequently over the decades in groups such as Lookout Farm and Quest, geography has largely kept them apart since the mid 1990s until a reformed Quest—on Redemption (Hatology, 2007) and Re-Dial (OutNote, 2010)—and Beirach's recent retirement from teaching in Germany seems to have created more opportunities for these two soul brothers to work together. KnowingLee (OutNote, 2010) took their longstanding duo in a different direction with the addition of saxophonist Lee Konitz, but as undeniably fine as that set was, Unspoken represents a welcome return to the unadorned format first heard on the criminally out-of-print Forgotten Fantasies (A&M, 1977).

Nearly 35 years later, the language that Liebman and Beirach have been honing has become nothing if not more recondite. Even when tackling an overworked but deserving chestnut such as Jerome Kern's "All the Things You Are," the familiar melody is couched in the pianist's expansive reharmonization, becoming an ever-present but tenuous thread at constant risk of unraveling. But it's the opening "Invention"—Beirach's arrangement of Aram Khatchaturian's "Adagio," from the ballet Gayaneh, written in 1942 but most popularized by film director Stanley Kubrick in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)—that speaks to this duo's remarkable empathy, as the pianist's sustaining introductory notes create a soft landscape over which Liebman's soprano slowly moves towards its equally recognizable theme. Time—as is true with everything about this duo—is fluid, allowing the music to breathe with rarely paralleled freedom and unconscious unity of intent.

Beirach's originals such as "Awk Dance"—with a groove that only the most temporally secure are apt to find, made all the more difficult for shifting in and out of double time—contrast with "Tender Mercies," described by the saxophonist as one of his "simplest ballads" but, traveling from dark dissonance to brooding beauty, seems anything but, beyond the relatively limited range of Liebman's wooden flute.

The saxophonist's closing medley best describes the breadth of this duo, as Beirach channels Olivier Messiaen with a touch that's both delicate and firm on "Hymn for Mum," before Liebman enters equally elegantly, switching to tenor for an a capella intro to "Prayer for Mike" that, in its visceral wails and multiphonic bursts, feels more like catharsis, though it does settle into a more plaintive tone when Beirach reappears.

A paradox of form and freedom, angst and calm, and fire and, if not exactly ice, then at least cool, Unspoken refers, no doubt, to the direct and uncanny line of communication built between Liebman and Beirach over the course of nearly 50 years, where no words need be said to create a language that speaks volumes.


Richie Beirach


Tracks: Invention; All the Things You Are; Ballad 1; Awk Dance; New Life; Waltz for Lenny; Tender Mercies; Transition; Hymn for Mom/Prayer for Michael.

Richie Beirach: piano; Dave Liebman: tenor and soprano saxophones, wood flute.


Photo Credit

Dave Liebman: John R. Fowler
Richie Beirach: Richard Conde

Title: Dave Liebman/Richie Beirach: Unspoken | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: OutNote Records

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

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

CD/LP/Track Review
Jazz Raconteurs
Interviews
Read more articles
Petite Fleur: The Music of Sidney Bechet

Petite Fleur: The...

Origin Records
2018

buy
The Unknowable

The Unknowable

RareNoiseRecords
2018

buy
Compassion: The Music Of John Coltrane

Compassion: The Music...

Resonance Records
2017

buy
Expansions Live

Expansions Live

Whaling City Sound
2017

buy
Expansions - The Puzzle

Expansions - The...

Whaling City Sound
2016

buy
Expansions: The Puzzle

Expansions: The Puzzle

Whaling City Sound
2016

buy

Related Articles

Read Trouble No More - The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981 Extended Analysis
Trouble No More - The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981
by Doug Collette
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Love, Gloom, Cash, Love Extended Analysis
Love, Gloom, Cash, Love
by Patrick Burnette
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Motel Shot: Expanded Edition Extended Analysis
Motel Shot: Expanded Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: July 16, 2017
Read Long Strange Trip: The Untold Story of the Grateful Dead Motion Picture Soundtrack Extended Analysis
Long Strange Trip: The Untold Story of the Grateful Dead...
by Doug Collette
Published: July 14, 2017
Read Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th Anniversary Super Deluxe  Edition Extended Analysis
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th...
by Doug Collette
Published: May 27, 2017
Read Singles: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - Deluxe Edition Extended Analysis
Singles: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - Deluxe Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: May 20, 2017
Read "Motel Shot: Expanded Edition" Extended Analysis Motel Shot: Expanded Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: July 16, 2017
Read "Ella Fitzgerald: 100 Songs For A Centennial" Extended Analysis Ella Fitzgerald: 100 Songs For A Centennial
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: April 29, 2017
Read "Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th Anniversary Super Deluxe  Edition" Extended Analysis Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th...
by Doug Collette
Published: May 27, 2017
Read "Grateful Dead: Cornell '77" Extended Analysis Grateful Dead: Cornell '77
by Doug Collette
Published: May 6, 2017