Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dave Liebman - Surreality (Enja Weber, 2012)

Jazz saxophonist Dave Liebman and pianist and scholar Lewis Porter are collaborating in two different ways, first on this album, where they are joined by Marc Ribot on guitar, Brad Jones on bass and Chad Taylor on drums. The are also worked together on Liebman's biography What It Is: The Life of a Jazz Artist.(excerpt here) On this album they cover a wide range of music from fusion to avant-garde and beyond. The opening track "Olivier" harkens back to the time Liebman spent in Miles Davis's electrified ensembles of the early 1970's. Guitar and electric bass set a chugging groove for lighter textured soprano saxophone and electric piano to fill in and shade. Albert Ayler's "Omega Is the Alpha" is the highlight of the album, and just a wonderful performance. Marc Ribot is turned loose with some snarling electric guitar, digging deep into the music. Ribot leads an Ayler-based band called Spiritual Unity, so he is the perfect choice for this track. Liebman comes in on tenor saxophone, playing Ayler's spiritual-folk theme before taking the tune way out and leading a torrid collective improvisation. "Trigonometry" by Ornette Coleman has the leaders bouncy saxophone leading an intricate improvisation. Liebman's high spirited soprano saxophone moves back and forth in a swinging fashion and pushes through to another nice solo from Ribot. Dark piano opens the title track "Surreality" with bass and drums kicking in as guitar melds in and develops a powerful beat. The album wraps up with a haunting and beautiful rendition of John Coltrane's "Alabama" ushered in with deep bowed bass. Lewis Porter wrote a well received book about John Coltrane and Liebman counts him as his biggest influence, so there is a lot of pressure and poise here. The music is stoic and thoughtful, and builds to very powerful and emotionally wrought exclamations. Surreality - amazon.com

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