Wednesday, October 20, 2010
The Dave Liebman Big Band Unleashes A Corker
If you've been listening to Dave Liebman in the last few years you probably have come to recognize that he has entered a class of his own. He is an original. Those who see in his early work a heavy John Coltrane influence should come to recognize, if they haven't already, that he has gone pretty far beyond that to his own place. His extended use of chromatic passing tones and his extensive grasp of scales and modes in various juxtipositions, not to mention a commanding grasp of the technical aspects of execution and tone make him. . . a monster.
There's no better place to experience Liebman today than on his big band recording As Always (Mama 1039). Five arrangers were invited to pick from the body of Liebman originals. They then set to work creating stimulating charts that range from a McCoy-like, "Fly Like the Wind" block presentation to shades of post-Gil-Evans tone color. The compositions will be mostly familiar to anyone who has followed Liebman through the years (the wonderful "New Breed" is a great example of the pieces here).
It's a crack big band outfit setting up what in effect is a kind of concerto for Liebman's soprano with big band. His playing is marvelous to hear on this one, and the band does not flag.
In short, this is excellent jazz; excellently performed and excellently arranged. It is one of the best of the year for me so far.