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The Distance Runner; World Sonic

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Dave Liebman
The Distance Runner
Hatology
2005

The Distance Runner is a record of expectations, or rather lack thereof. If you're familiar with Liebman's approach to composition and improvisation, you would think that 55 minutes of saxophone solos would sound like a re-recording of late-Coltrane works mixed with early 21st Century classical motifs. Instead we have the surprise of a child-like spontaneity. With every note bend and tone alteration, we can hear Liebman experimenting with his horn as if his ears are fresh to the sound of wind instruments. The rest of his body—fingers, breath and mind—don't just allude to, but saturate each nuance and turn of phrase with the highest level of mastery.

The Distance Runner is a collection of concepts. Rather than taking the geeky approach—plowing through mathematical combinations of melody and harmony, meanwhile showcasing every statistical permutation—each selection plays on the title concept or emotion, leaving us with a highly introspective and spontaneous arrangement of sounds and melodies.

Trevor Watts
World Sonic
Hi4Head
2005

British reedman Trevor Watts' World Sonic takes a different approach to free improvisation. His alto sax solos are built on the concept that improvisation stems from repetition. Like a Jumanji construction, each phrase in a song is only slightly different from the last. As Watts repeats a phrase, he is able to find the underlying tones, rhythms and melodies buried within. He subtly peels away all that is superfluous and reveals what his creative mind has found in an otherwise basic motif.

However avant these respective albums come off, they demonstrate the most primitive and storied tradition in jazz: the artist, while performing solo, is on full display to the audience. Every thought and every emotion comes through the horn in the kind of clarity and meditation that only the great masters can pull off.


Tracks and Personnel

The Distance Runner

Tracks: The Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner: Mind and Body; Colors: Red, Gray, Yellow; Petite Fleur; The Tree: Roots, Limbs, Branches; Mother; Father; Time Immemorial: Before, Then, Now, After; Peace on Earth.

Personnel: David Liebman: reeds.

World Sonic

Tracks: Solarsonic; Weejah song; The chase; Soft call; How it goes; Rounder; Slip jive; Passionato; Honing; Shadows; Sliding reel; This morning!; Duplette; Head tones; Stretching; Jakarata; Solone; Descension.

Personnel: Trevor Watts: alto sax.

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