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Martial Solal & Dave Liebman: Masters In Bordeaux

Dan McClenaghan By

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This should have happened a long time ago. Veteran jazz icons Martial Solal and Dave Liebman had never played together before the the Paris jazz club dates that served as a warm-up of sorts for this set, Masters In Bordeaux, recorded at the Jazz And Wine Festival in Bordeaux, France.

Paris-based pianist Solal, ninety years old now, began his career in the 1950s, in small groups, big bands, and as a crafter of soundtracks. His style is a freewheeling brew of form and freedom, often  stretching the familiar close to the borders of unfamiliarity, with a wit, grace and humor almost unmatched in jazz. Saxophonist Liebman, twenty years younger than his new partner here, nudged his foot into the doorway of a higher profile with Miles Davis, during one of the trumpeter's most avant and controversial periods, 'round about the time of the making of On The Corner (Columbia Records, 1972). Both artists can be called unconventional, both have had long and successful careers pushing their music to new places. And, judging from their recent output, the artists from different generations couldn't have more different musical personalities—Solal the crafty fox with a perpetual smile, laying down sunny sounds that contain surprising depths; Liebman bursting with intensity, gruff and robust.

This makes for a riveting contrast.

Liebman, better known perhaps for his soprano sax sound, alternates the straight horn here with his tenor sax. His soprano, on the "All The Things You Are," is sharp and searing, a bit rough around the edges; on tenor, on "What Is This Thing Called Love," he barks and blusters like a hungry Rottweiler. And Solal, as always, lays down a light-hearted, light-stepping backdrop as an accompanist, and sparkles the sounds out to the loveliest edge on his solos.

The set is all standards, but not a predictable note can be heard. These two masters are as spontaneous as can be, freewheeling and in the moment, the unique blending of the  genius of their disparate artistries on full display.     

Track Listing: All The Things You Are; Night And Day; Solar; What Is This Thing Called Love; On Green Dolphin Street; Lover Man.

Personnel: Martial Solal: piano; Dave Liebman: saxophones.

Title: Masters In Bordeaux | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records

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