Composed and arranged by pianist Florian Ross, Suite For Soprano Sax and String Orchestra brings to life Ross’ concept to compose a series of pieces which are based upon pastoral themes of English classical composers. Here, soprano saxophonist Dave Liebman paves the way and assists fulfilling Ross’ master game plan which fuses classical music behind the guiding light of Liebman’s improvisations and thematic articulations.
On “Part 1” the listener is treated to lush strings in support of Liebman’s sinewy and melodic phraseology supplemented by Ross’ superb and very textural approach on the keys. Here and throughout, it should be noted that Dave Liebman has rarely sounded better through his adept utilization of vibrato, angular and rapid phrasing while generally maintaining the prominent melodies. Also, Liebman and the “The Event String Ensemble” are more or less in synch as they stay within the same key which at times can muddle or become distracting during hybrid jazz-classical outings of this ilk. On “Part 2”, Liebman’s sweet and passionate phrasing is stated in unison with the string section as this piece evolves into a somber ballad. On “Part 6”, Liebman is fast and furious over a driving and peppery backbeat supplied by drummer Jochen Ruckert and bassist Dietmar Fuhr. Yes, these folks do swing and break out of the occasional austere environs as Liebman demonstrates his keen sensibilities of driving the proceedings with either rapid thematic movement or pensive, heartfelt passages. On Part 6, a point could be made as to whether the string section adds much value to this composition as the arrangements come in spurts emphasizing Liebman’s soaring soprano sax work. Ross’ delightful utilization of harmonics is captured in “Part 5”. “Part 4” features a gorgeous melody as told through Liebman’s elegant and sonorous soprano sax. Here, Ross’ enhances this clever and enduring arrangement through his graceful, elegant phrasing and chord progressions.
Florian Ross’ concept work rather well, as the compositions are meaningful, melodic and taken as a whole the project emits an air of continuity and a uniform flow. Dave Liebman’s brilliant soprano sax work is the major ingredient here. A saxophonist of lesser talents may have proved disastrous for this recording. Apparently, Ross’ had Liebman in mind from the onset and thankfully, Liebman obliged. Suite For Soprano Sax and String Orchestra is a joyful listening experience and all involved should be commended for their efforts! Recommended. * * * *
Dave Liebman; Soprano Saxophone: Florian Ross; Piano: Dietmar Fuhr; Bass: Jochen Ruckert; Drums: The Event String Ensemble, conducted by Manfred Knaak.