Friday, October 17, 2014

Expansions: The Dave Liebman Group - "Samsara" Released on Whaling City Sound #jazz

 Twenty Years After

On Samsara, Dave Liebman debuts a long-awaited new group:

Expansions


After over two decades of the Dave Liebman Group (featuring guitarist Vic Juris) the NEA Jazz Master unveils Expansions, a brilliant new adventure featuring members of the new generation of talented musicians eager, like their bandleader, to alter the language of jazz. These musicians, heard on the new Samsara release, include Bobby Avey on piano, Matt Vashlishan on sax, flute and clarinet, Tony Marino on bass, and drummer/percussionist Alex Ritz. Expansions is a remarkable band, not only for its talent, which is ample and evident, but for the fact that they represent an “expansion” of Lieb’s horizons as well as honoring the jazz tradition of a legend mentoring the younger generation.

These new kids know how to flow with the boss!! Liebman’s most direct influences—Coltrane and Miles, instilled in him a need for constant growth and evolution. In this case pursuing edgy rhythms and complex harmonic settings. The directions are unpredictable and dazzling, with an emphasis on collective improvisation…a milieu seemingly built for Liebman as evidenced in his extraordinarily diverse stylistic career.

The effect is especially intoxicating on excursions like the funky “Liberian Hummingbird,” the uniquely styled “Level One,” and “Endive,” (a reworking of Monk’s “Evidence.”) “Simply,” the opening track, is awash with rhythmic surprises while “Child Refugee,” running at nearly eleven glorious minutes, is dedicated to the plight of “the innocent victims of politics and violence worldwide since the beginning of time.” ”Samsara,” recycles and re-orders the twelve pitches of Western music several times in tempo, key and rhythm over a colorful canvas.

Deeply felt, eclecticism is the order of the day here for the sax great, as it always has been. Certainly with this cadre of young musicians, the excitement is palpable. Liebman’s heady concepts underline and reinforce the spectacular playing of his new instrumentalists…a group that will soon enough etch its own achievements in the annals of modern jazz.

Excerpts from recent biographical information from Dave’s website:

Liebman has most notably been awarded the NEA Masters of Jazz, the Order of Arts and Letters from France and has been a perennial name in Downbeat and Jazz Times polls among the top soprano saxophonists since his tenure with Elvin Jones and Miles Davis in the early 1970s. He presently serves as the Artistic Director of the IASJ; is Artist in Residence at the Manhattan School of Music, NYC and guest lecturer at the University of Toronto.

After leading he legendary group Quest in the 1980s, from 1991 through 2012, the Dave Liebman Group was formed featuring guitarist Vic Juris which toured and recorded nearly 20 CDs, ranging from jazz standards to Puccini arias, adaptations from the John Coltrane and Miles Davis repertoires, as well as original compositions in styles ranging from world music to fusion to free jazz. Over the past several decades, Liebman has often been featured with top European musicians such as Joachim Kuhn, Daniel Humair, Paolo Fresu, Jon Christensen, Bobo Stenson, Michel Portal, Wolfgang Reisinger and Jean-Paul Celea among others. His reputation in Europe has led to big band and radio orchestra performances with the WDR in Koln, Germany; Metropole Orchestra, Netherlands; “new music” groups Klangforum, Vienna; the Ensemble Intercontemporain from Paris and Avanti from Helsinki, Finland playing music specially commissioned to feature Lieb’s unique soprano saxophone style. Liebman has been featured on over 500 recordings, of which he has been the leader or co-leader on 150. 

Lieb’s published materials include a wide variety of books considered classics in the field as well as instructional DVDs and chamber music; Self Portrait of A Jazz Artist, A Chromatic Approach to Jazz Harmony And Melody and Developing A Personal Saxophone Sound (which has been translated into multiple languages). Liebman’s biography is entitled, What It Is: The Life Of A Jazz Artist (Scarecrow Press).

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