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Liberty Ellman

Pi Recordings is proud to release Tactiles, the second album by Liberty Ellman, one of New York's most imaginative and unorthodox guitarist/composers. Tactiles follows up the critically acclaimed Orthodoxy, which Ellman released in 1998 on his own Red Giant label. Featuring Mark Shim on tenor saxophone, Stephan Crump on bass, and Eric Harland on drums, Tactiles documents sounds and concepts that have been gestating since Ellman returned to his native New York from the Bay Area in 1998.

Tactiles is Ellman's second appearance on Seth Rosner's innovative Pi label - the first being Up Popped the Two Lips by Henry Threadgill's acoustic band ZOOID. With Tactiles, Ellman joins such esteemed innovators as Threadgill, Roscoe Mitchell, and Wadada Leo Smith as a Pi recording artist.

Since relocating to New York, Ellman has performed extensively with his own trio and quartet, with Crump and Shim as charter members. He has also gained wide-ranging experience as a sideman with some of jazz's most adventurous and least categorizable thinkers, including Greg Osby, Henry Threadgill, Steven Bernstein, and Lawrence "Butch" Morris. On Tactiles we feel the pull of these diverse influences in Ellman's spiky, unpredictable lines, his arid and suggestive harmonies, and his complex yet infectious rhythms. We also hear Osby's distinctive alto sax on three tracks: the majestic ballad "Temporary Aid," the midtempo funk riddle "How Many Texts," and the furiously swinging "Ultraviolet."

Ellman employs a clean, unadorned sound on Tactiles, achieving rich timbral contrasts and an alluring sonic blend with Mark Shim's weighty, gruff tenor sax. Interestingly, both Ellman and Shim make extensive use of the lower registers of their respective instruments. "I like a warm, clear sound," says Ellman, "one that allows you to hear the quality of the strings and the wood of the instrument, but not too pristine. I still prefer to hear the grit of a vintage tube amp."

Crump and Harland flourish within Ellman's intricate rhythmic frameworks on pieces such as "Excavation," "Helios," and "Post Approval." In these workouts, Ellman crafts a dense polyrhythmic language and focuses the heated interaction with his undulating single-note lines and clich�-�ree chording. "With this record," Ellman explains, "I wanted to be as direct as possible, making music that has a visceral, almost physical quality. Hence the title, Tactiles."

Born in London in 1971, Ellman lived his earliest years in New York but spent his adolescence and most of his 20s in the Bay Area, emerging with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from the California State University at Sonoma. During his West Coast stint Ellman formed deep, lasting relationships with the celebrated pianist Vijay Iyer, the fiery altoist Rudresh Mahanthappa, and a close-knit circle of other like-minded players, most of whom have since moved to New York as well. Along the way Ellman founded Red Giant Records and released his debut recording, Orthodoxy, along with well-received albums by Iyer (Panoptic Modes, Architextures), Mahanthappa (Black Water), and other colleagues.

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Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

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Last Desert

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From: Resonant Bodies
By Liberty Ellman


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