Dave Liebman: Earth

Mike Jurkovic By

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It's taken over two tumultuous decades for Dave Liebman to fully realize and execute his poetic, elemental suite. Alongside Pat Metheny,Billy Hart, and Cecil McBee, Water: Giver of Life (Arkadia Jazz, 1997) birthed the the long journey. Teaming with violinist/sound engineer Walter Quintus for 2006's Air (Finetunes) led to 2016's free-jazz flame torch with Dave Holland, Kenny Werner, and Jack DeJohnette Fire (Jazzlines.)

Wholly cognitive of his music's inert ability to rouse a myriad of cinematic possibilities and recall a legion of influences, from Miles Davis, Elvin Jones, to John McLaughlin and more, NEA Jazz Master, statesman, and soprano saxophonist/composer Liebman allows the listener to approach Earth from two very contrasting lines of thought. For Earth, like its wondrous, orbiting namesake, either wails into cosmic existence not from some Big Bang but from a far-reaching collection of random, natural happenings, or it is the pained, distressed echoes of an endangered celestial habitat whose cries go mostly unheard and unheeded in our mad rush to extinction.

The number four plays a near cosmic part in Liebman's latest foray. Earth is the fourth part of the cycle and represents Liebman's fourth excursion with his Expansions band, featuring pianist Bobby Avey, Matt Vashlishan on reeds, drummer Alex Ritz and trusted, long-standing bassist Tony Marino, who lend great color and sonorous electro/acoustic texture to the leader's often structured classical lines.

We could go deep into the woods on how Liebman came upon the fourteen intervals that make Earth whole. For example: "I wrote each composition to have a specific intervallic element. "Concrete Jungle" in intervals of fourths and fifths, suggests a city landscape. "Sahara," using major and minor seconds, represents the desert heat. " But that takes away from the music's post-fusion illusive and elusiveness, which is the very heart of the matter: Illusive to the point of denial and elusive in the paths taken to tell the story.

With jumpy horns and storms of textured electro dissonance, "Volcano/Avalanche" calls to mind either shifting plates of primal creation or current collapsing glaciers. With its dance of woodwinds and synths, the opening and closing "Earth Themes" envision birth and rebirth. "Sahara" spreads its heat across greater and greater expanses. Like a quiet monk signaling a time for reflection, Liebman's lone soprano leads to the more restorative "Grand Canyon/Mt. Everest" before the rush of "Concrete Jungle" speeds us along our destructive way.

Having established himself long ago as a player and thinker of studied consideration, Liebman, always in true service to the music—now, then, and in the future—pulls no punches, presenting his Earth as our Earth: a common home in danger, but a danger we can overcome if we let ourselves be heard.

Track Listing

Earth Theme; Bass Interlude; Volcano/Avalanche; Percussion Flute Interlude; The Sahara; Soprano Interlude; Gand Canyon/Mt. Everest; Drum Interlude; Concrete Jungle; Piano Interlude; Dust to Dust; Wind Synth Interlude; Galaxy; Earth Theme.


Dave Liebman: saxophone; Bobby Avey: piano; Matt Vashlishan: saxophone, alto; Alex Ritz: drums; Tony Marino: bass.

Album information

Title: Earth | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Whaling City Sound



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