Saxophonist Dave Liebman
leans "outside" for the most part. He came to a measure of fame in the bands of Miles Davis
, during one of the influential trumpeter's decidedly outside periodsthe 1970s, when Liebman participated in Davis' On The Corner
(Columbia Records, 1972), Dark Magus
(CBS-Sony, 1975), and Get Up With It
Post-Davis, the always prolific and adventurous Liebman offered up scores of recordings under his own name. Moving to the new millennium, these include Turnaround: The Music of Ornette Coleman
(Jazzwerkstatt, 2009), Lieb Plays The Blues a La Trane
(Daybreak, 2010), and Lineage: Rock and Pop Classics Revisited
(Whaling City sounds, 2013). Petite Fleur: The Music of Sidney Bechet
, features a teaming of Liebman with guitarist John Stowell
, a reunion of sortsthe duo released a terrific set in 2013: Blue Rose
(Origin Records), that showcased the duo's adeptness jazz standards and The Great American Songbook. Petite Fleur
is the pair's intimate and unfailingly gorgeous exploration of the music of soprano saxophone pioneer Sidney Bechet
, the man who brought the "straight horn" into legitimacy as a jazz vehicle. The New Orleans-born Bechet began his recording career in the early 1920's, well before the advent of alto saxophonist Charlie Parker
and the bebop revolution. That era before Parkerbefore the complex harmonizations of bopisn't revisited as much as late 1950s thought late 1960s hard bop, mid-twentieth century cool jazz, or Miles Davis mid-sixties modal approach. Petit Feur
says that's a shame. The tune that gives this disc it's title is one of Bechet's most famous offerings is visited three timesonce as a solo by Lowell; once as a solo by Liebman (on piano); and once as a duo. Direct and beautiful sounds.
A major shaper of the New Orleans tradition, Becht usually played in ensembles that included more hornsa trumpet, a trombone to go along with his soprano saxophone. If Bechet had the melody, the other guys either laid a foundation behind him or they snaked counter melodies around his main theme. This was jazz from New Orleansexuberant and bursting with life.
Liebman and Stowell take his tunes and reveal their essence, and make them gentle, often understated ruminations. Bechet wrote straightforward, singable melodies that are accentuated in the one horn, one guitar renderings.
As for tone on the soprano saxBechet's was big. It has been described as emotional and reckless, intense and passionate. Liebman doesn't go that way herethough he is more than capable. He instead rolls with a surprising (for him and Bechet) gentleness and deftness for the intricacies of the melodies. His tone here is more often than not clean, pure and sweet. Stowellan adept modern player with a fine discography on Origin Recordslays back in a pre-bop mode himself, with shimmering rhythms and sustain and elastic single note forays. And sometimes he brings a Django Reinhardt
mode into the picture.
Liebman and Stowell's Petite Fleur
uncovers a different side of Bechet's seminal, now-traditional sound, one that's been glowing under the shining surface all this time.
Petete Fleur; Daniel; When The Sun Sets Down South; Premier Bal; What A Dream; Petite Fleur (John Solo); Passport; Creole Blues; Nous Deux; Si Tu Vois Ma Mere; Summertime; Petite Fleur (Dave Solo).
Dave Liebman: soprano saxophone, wood flute, piano; John Stowell: guitar, nylon-string guitar, fretless baritone guitar.