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Carol Liebowitz / Nick Lyons: First Set

Jerome Wilson By

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The improvising legacy of Lennie Tristano continues to this day. It went through his student, the late Connie Crothers and it continues in this live set by two musicians she influenced, pianist Carol Liebowitz and saxophonist Nick Lyons recorded at Crothers' loft in 2012.

This duo does, in the old Tristano fashion, improvising rooted in standards though you have to listen very closely to detect the skeletons of "You Stepped Out Of A Dream" in "Carol's Dream" or "What Is This Thing Called Love" in "The Very Thing." Lyons and Liebowitz have very complimentary sounds. Lyons' alto often sounds sour and faint and might be hard to take in other contexts but he fits snugly against Liebowitz's heavy, running piano chords. "The Very Thing" is one of the best examples of their work together. Liebowitz rolls out a busy, dense melody while Lyons' sharp notes offhandedly trail away into the air like wisps of smoke. At first you think his playing is tentative but when you listen to the entire set you realize he's making deliberate choices.

On other pieces like "Reverie" and "Ephemera" Lyons comes across even fainter and Liebowitz reacts with hard-charging waves of piano. "Roy's Joy" actually a prominent melody based on "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You." Lyons swings with a surprisingly robust force while Liebowitz bangs chords in support and repeats and switches phrases in her solo in a manner that almost sounds like a DJ cutting up beats on a turntable.

On first hearing, this music comes off directionless and discordant but when you listen closely you come to realize that there's a close musical telepathy between the two players and a purpose behind everything they play. Lyons and Liebowitz can turn the familiar into dazzling new creations.

Track Listing: Carol’s Dream; Turquoise Echo; Twain Shall Meet; The Very Thing; Ephemera; Reverie On A Sunday Afternoon; Roy’s Joy; Another Time.

Personnel: Carol Liebowitz: piano; Nick Lyons: alto saxophone.

Title: First Set | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Line Art Records


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