All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

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...

522

Liberty Ellman: Ophiuchus Butterfly

Mark F. Turner By

Sign in to view read count
Being different just for the sake of being different is simply not enough. But then Liberty Ellman has never fit into the category of a run-of-the-mill jazz guitarist. Like a Bohemian artisan who dabbles in a variety of styles yet develops a unique identity, Ellman has performed impressively within mainstream, abstract jazz, and hip-hop settings—sometimes combining all three.

On the heals of the highly acclaimed Tactiles (Pi Recordings, 2003) comes the creative and exhilarating Ophiuchus Butterfly, which finds Ellman digging deeper into eccentric and progressive territories with a sextet of like-minded artists with distinct voices: Mark Shim (tenor sax) and Stephan Crump (bass), plus new members Gerald Cleaver (drums), Steve Lehman (alto sax) andJose Davila (tuba). Each of these players brings something refreshing to the table.

Though Ellman is known for serious chops and a unique playing style, this is not a guitar recording, but more of an outlet for his creative writing and sextet arrangements, which interpret ideas related to integrating jazz, urban beats, and electronica—all suggesting compositions juxtaposed with improvisation.

These concepts are found on the title piece, "Ophiuchus Butterfly," which is marked by jagged rhythms, circuitous horn arrangements and dynamic, free solos. The contrasts of tenor/alto sax, tuba/bass and drum/guitar are quite enjoyable. The idiosyncratic ballad "Aestivation accentuates the harmonies and timbres of each instrument, allowing each sound to develop like the unfolding of a flower's petals.

Other points of interest include the clever use of electronics, seamlessly threaded throughout the compositions and heavily featured on "Snow Lips and "Borealis. Heavy sampling, loops, and synthesized effects create surrealistic sound canvases that would easily fit into cinematic works. The majority of this music is very groove-centric. The blends of textures and technologies are skillfully balanced on the very stylish "Pretty Words, Like Blades," with repeating syncopation of chimes, bells, sax harmonies and rhythm section into a mesmeric beat.

Each musician senses and adds to the recording's vibe. Shim and Lehman, two of today's shrewdest young reed players, are again in cutting form with odd solos and harmonies. The tri-rhythm section of bassist Crumb, drummer Cleaver, and tubaist Davila provides attitude as well as rock-solid beats. On the infectious rhythm of "Tarmacadam, the tuba rumbles and grumbles; Ellman solos (with dual processed sounds) along with some fine drumming by Cleaver as the music sways and moves in head-bopping unison.

This challenging and totally cool recording is one of the more interesting and coherent releases of the year.

Track Listing: Ophiuchus Butterfly; Aestivation; Snow Lips; You Have Ears; The Natiralists; Pretty Words, Like Blades; Tarmacadam; Looking Up; Chromos; Borealis.

Personnel: Liberty Ellman: guitar, synthesizer; Steve Lehman: alto saxophone; Mark Shim: tenor saxophone; Jose Davila: tuba; Stephan Crump: acoustic bass; Gerald Cleaver: drums.

Title: Ophiuchus Butterfly | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Pi Recordings

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Radiate

Radiate

Pi Recordings
2015

buy
 

Reclamation

Sunnyside Records
2011

buy
Ophiuchus Butterfly

Ophiuchus Butterfly

Pi Recordings
2006

buy
Tactiles

Tactiles

Pi Recordings
2003

buy
 

Orthodoxy

Red Giant Records
1999

buy

Related Articles

Read Brothers CD/LP/Track Review
Brothers
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 24, 2018
Read The Fearless Flyers CD/LP/Track Review
The Fearless Flyers
by John Bricker
Published: September 24, 2018
Read Super Mood CD/LP/Track Review
Super Mood
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 24, 2018
Read Beheaded Totem CD/LP/Track Review
Beheaded Totem
by James Fleming
Published: September 24, 2018
Read New Hope CD/LP/Track Review
New Hope
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 23, 2018
Read The Nobuki Takamen Trio CD/LP/Track Review
The Nobuki Takamen Trio
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 23, 2018
Read "Secret Passages" CD/LP/Track Review Secret Passages
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: December 11, 2017
Read "Oneiric Sounds" CD/LP/Track Review Oneiric Sounds
by Karl Ackermann
Published: September 12, 2018
Read "Friends & Family" CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Family
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 23, 2018
Read "Food Foragers" CD/LP/Track Review Food Foragers
by Don Phipps
Published: March 13, 2018
Read "Air Guitar" CD/LP/Track Review Air Guitar
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 14, 2018
Read "Oh My, Those Boys!" CD/LP/Track Review Oh My, Those Boys!
by John Sharpe
Published: May 29, 2018