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We Three is a treat for the ears, twelve songs by three of jazz' strongest players: saxophonist Dave Liebman, bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Adam Nussbaum. This group combines decades of experience and friendship, and the players' mutual respect and affection radiates through the music's easy grace. As individuals, these musicians are capable of just about any jazz genre, so when you put them together, the possibilities can't help but be robust.
There's an incredible variety of moods on Three for All, which combines originals by each member with standards. Their individual compositions are excellent, but the group shines on the chestnuts. The spare arrangement of "Played Twice" perfectly captures Monk's ineffable essence. There's nice electric bass work by Swallow, who gets lots of solo space, and Liebman cuts loose on his solo but otherwise plays the melody's bones.
A deep version of "I Only Have Eyes for You" expresses the romantic heart of the song with nary a drop of doo-wop sappiness. Liebman is gently emotive, Swallow spare and lyrical, and Nussbaum delightfully precise. The highlight is their version of Miles' "All Blues." Swallow plays a funky bass line, giving the song a wonderful lift; Liebman finds the melodyâ's slippery slope; and Nussbaum gets ample time front and center, his rhythmic patterns a joy to behold.
What a pleasure to hear beautiful music played so joyfully and masterfully. A lot of life has gone into this recording, and the result is jazz full of originality, plus grateful acknowledgment to the old masters from three new ones.
Track Listing: What Time Is It; Played Twice; We 3; Up and Adam; The Jewish Warrior; Whistling Past the Graveyard; I Only Have Eyes for You; Cycling; All Blues; The Start of Something Small; BTU.
Personnel: Dave Liebman: saxophones, flutes; Steve Swallow: electric bass; Adam Nussbaum: drums.