A programme consisting of music from the likes of Robert Schumann and Georg Friedrich Handel should really be some kind of anathema to jazz per se, but what keeps it from being so on Vienna Dialogues is the deft interplay and deep musical understanding that exists between soprano saxophonist Dave Liebman and pianist Bobby Avey. In as good an example as any of how the music goes round, it's these very qualities that call to mind the work of the Jack Montrose/Bob Gordon Quintet, amongst others, for all of the idiomatic differences. By the same token, the duo's reading of Debussy's "Fleur Des Bles" works like a dream because both players exhibit such a firm grasp of that composer's unassuming way with a melodic line.
Mendelssohn's "May Breezes Op. 62 No.1" is paradoxically given a positively autumnal reading here, though the mood is one of celebration of the passing of time and perhaps the immutable rhythm of the natural world, as opposed to anything forlorn. A similar mood also marks the duo's approach to "Immer Leiser Wird Mein Schlummer Op. 105 No.2," by Johannes Brahms. Here however the impression is filled out by the abundant affinity the two musicians have for this music in particular. Would it be beyond the realms of possibility for them to record the Brahms clarinet sonatas at some point in the future? We can but dream.
If this is something of a departure on record for Liebman in particular, it's just another string to his bow, in the best sense of that term, even when he has recorded so often in this duo format in the past. The results on Vienna Dialogues are steeped in a kind of melancholy beauty that makes for satisfying listening.
Track Listing: Romance Op. 94 No. 2; Etude in E Flat Minor Op. 10 No. 6; May Breezes Op. 62 No. 1 (from
"Song without Words"); Immer Leiser Wird Mein Schlummer Op. 105 No. 2; Sonata #6;
Personnel: Dave Liebman: soprano saxophone; Bobby Ivey: piano.