Wednesday, August 25, 2010


We celebrate Trane’s birthday Sept. 23. I always like to use the opportunity to write something about the Master.

As I mentioned in the last Intervals, Lee Konitz was talking to me about Lester Young, giving me one of his solos to play through. This seems like an appropriate time to discuss Prez and Trane. Coincidentally I just came into possession of one of the only interviews of Prez a few months before he passed. As well I recently read the biography of Stan Getz, which by the way is riveting. The New York raised (Bronx) Jewish musician was a complete natural, already with Jack Teagarden at 15 years old. No question he had some real psychological and addiction problems. It is not without as reason that Stan is referred to by those who worked with him as a bunch of guys, a true Jekyll and Hyde personality. But for sure, musically he comes directly out of Prez.

Jazz history has made it dogma that the two main approaches to the saxophone in early jazz and by extension, not withstanding the colossal influence of Armstrong, to the early years of improvisation in general (up to Bird at least) are represented by the Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins approaches. Hawk with his big sound, fast arpeggio and quite often on top of the beat, as compared to Prez, behind the time, across the bar pure melodicist who by the way seems to have sort of invented jazz ling. I think that after Bird, it really didn’t matter much except historically, but if you were coming up in the ‘50s like Trane and Sonny you still had to deal with Prez and Hawk since they were still quite active and you couldn’t help but hear them live on at least a few occasions if you were into the music at all. When you think of Trane with his technique and runs up and down the horn, you initially think Hawk stylistically speaking. On the other hand that light sound which Prez had, a kind of altoish approach to the tenor (Frankie Trumbauer C melody sax influence?), does seem to have influenced Trane, who started on alto. It’s really the pre-Miles Trane that you hear when he was with Dizzy’s and Johnny Hodges’ bands in the early ‘50s where you can hear besides the obvious Dexter influence, something akin to Prez in approach. Of course Trane did publicly acknowledge that Prez was an influence along with Stitt and of course Bird.

Interesting from the Getz book about Trane and Stan’s relationship: I have referred to this in an earlier Intervals concerning the scenario when I was just starting in the early ‘60s, vis a vis the supposed “competition” between Stan and John, who both had more or less contemporaneous hits with in Stan’s case “Desafinado” and “Ipanema” while Trane had “Favorite Things.” I was just starting to read Downbeat and the vibe was who is the REAL jazz guy, with as I remember it some undertones of race. But when you see the You Tube clip with Trane and Stan in Germany playing together, it attests to their camaraderie and dispels any notion of animosity between the two. Sure enough in the book, Trane is quoted as saying something to the extent that everyone would like to play like Stan Getz. I have to think that has to do with his incredible melodic gifts.

We started with our first meeting 20 years ago at The Hague, so this was very special. Walter Turkenburg did a great job with posters and tee shirts from past meetings, photos and some recounting of notable stories. We also had the benefit of a kind of jazz strip where we had three jam sessions going on at the same time which was great for the students. Ashley Kahn did a lecture on the 40th anniversary of “Bitches Brew” which really was influential in shaping the fusion movement. We had bassist extraordinaire Reggie Workman, representing the New School as a guest. I had a wonderful time interviewing Reggie for the participants, discussing his days with Coltrane and his own journey with education and music. As always the student level was very high as you can see from several clips on You Tube. (I’m there playing Alec Wilder’s “Lady Sings the Blues” with a guitarist in concert.) A real highlight was all the participants playing and singing Trane’s “Peace on Earth.” The picture below is small but you can see the whole group on stage in our meeting hall. This should be on You Tube shortly. What a great sentiment to summarize what the IASJ is doing…promoting brotherhood among cultures using jazz as the vehicle. Next year for our 21st Jazz Meeting, we are in Sao Paolo, Brazil, one of the great music countries. (PASTE ALL LINKS INTO YOUR BROWSER)

My daughter in one of the IASJ ensembles

Peace On Earth

GIGS:CONTACT TOUR with John Abercrombie, Marc Copland, Drew Gress (also Doug Weiss filling in for a few dates) and Billy Hart. We had some nice concerts playing really well crafted music in high class company. Talk about people friendly music!!

TUSCHIA JAZZ: As I have done before in Italy, there are these workshops that happen in all kinds of locations basically taking over the main piazza for nightly events and teaching in the local conservatory. The whole town comes on board…it’s really amazing. This one near Rome has been gong on for ten years with a lot of participants on all levels. I had a good time hanging and hearing pianist Dado Maroni who is really an incredible bebop player. In fact, all the teachers could really play the language. Most of all, it was fantastic to hang and hear my old friend Eddie Gomez. In the end, I don’t know if there has ever been a better soloist on the double bass…and with the bow on “My Funny Valentine” playing the melody…somethin’ else. One of the all time greats for sure.

HABANERA SAX QUARTET IN POITIERS, FRANCE: I had the pleasure to hear what is considered one of France’s top sax quartets play two of my pieces written for that instrumentation. Talk about interpretation …they completely changed it around and gave it new life. The second half featured my great friend and wonderful soprano/baritone player, Jean Charles Richard in duo with me. I had a great time, especially playing drums accompanying the solo soprano piece I wrote for JC, “Elvin.” Now, that’s fun!!

For the 23rd year of my master class, with participants from Australia, France, England, Israel and of course across the States, I had the most young players in the whole history…five guys under 17 years old who could all play well. Tony Malaby was my guest and he was fantastic, giving great insight into how he organizes his work and practice time. It was really interesting to see how a modern so-called “free” player as Tony is known puts together his art with such discipline and care.

Olivier Sauvan from France and Joe Berry from California

Playing with Tony Malaby

Our second record culled from two live gigs a few years ago, once again I am blessed with great arrangers taking my original compositions and putting them so creatively into the big band format. The band is made up of A team New York guys who are the best in the business along with my regular rhythm section from my quartet (Marko Marcinko, Tony Marino and Vic Juris). Stylistically it ranges from the lyrical Pete McGuiness arrangement of a tune I recorded with Quest in the ‘80s, “As Always” to a long, exotic excursion featuring Charles Pillow on oboe, “Anubis” arranged by Scott Reeves. Gunnar Mossblad, my long time associate who leads the band contributed an harmonically challenging arrangement of “Philippe Under the Green Bridge” while from Israel, Guri Agmon took on the odd metered, rockish “Turn It Around” featuring Vic Juris screaming on guitar. Finally, two tunes from my early days with Elvin Jones’ band, one of my first compositions I wrote called “Brite Piece” arranged by Andrew Rathburn and again Scott Reeves revisiting “New Breed” featuring the sax section playing my solo from the “Live at the Lighthouse” recording….…kind of Supersax on Mars!!

PASSINGS for oboe, soprano sax, viola, cello (Published by Advance Music: This chamber piece presents a kind of different string quartet, with the oboe and soprano taking the place of the usual two violins. It was originally written for the Commission Project and premiered at the Manhattan School of Music. It’s a deep piece for me dedicated to folks who have passed on. The notes follow:

“It is natural as we age to contemplate the finality of passing on, if not personally, then certainly as an effect from others around you whom have left this space. Having to endure the passing of family and friends is of course very trying. This is especially true when the perception is that someone “passed before their time” though there are those of us who believe in fate implying that the Force works in its own mys¬terious way. In some ways I can subscribe to that concept, but for me when someone passes early, say in their fifth or sixth decade of life, it is “before their time.” Composers often commemorate passings with music as a means to mourn and as well to celebrate the life of an individual who meant something to them. Such is the nature of this piece.

Movement 1 - Past– uses as source material themes I wrote for my mother Frances and father Leo when they passed; movement 2 – Present centers around a choral (“Prayer for Mike”) I wrote for my dear friend, saxophonist Michael Brecker when he passed a few years ago. This same period also saw the passing of other friends and associates whom I had known for years, all way too premature, beginning with JF Jenny Clarke and Bob Berg, Hans Gruber, Thomas Stowsand, David Baker, James Williams, Dennis Irwin, John Stubblefield. The final movement – Future is a requiem of sorts for all of us still here. With its improvisational charac¬ter, it is meant to suggest the positive implications of living life to its fullest.

QUEST REISSUE–“SEARCHING FOR THE NEW SOUND OF BEBOP”-STORYVILLE (DENMARK: From the mid ‘80s, this double CD release encompasses three recordings we did in Copenhagen-“Quest II” and “Midpoint” with Richie Beirach, Billy Hart and Ron McClure; the third LP was duo with Richie and myself playing standrs, “Double Edge.” Besides the weird title they gave this, it’s nice to have this music out again…this is when were hot. A review from All About Jazz by Joel Roberts:

Twenty five years ago, one of the era’s most arresting groups was Quest. Growing out of the partnership between Liebman and pianist Richie Beirach, Quest played a brand of Coltrane-inspired jazz that was ethereal one moment, funky the next. Searching for the New Sound of Be-Bop is a two-disc compilation that includes two Quest albums, Quest II from 1986 and Midpoint, a live recording from 1987, along with Double Edge, a duo session of standards Liebman and Beirach made in 1985. Nearly all the tunes the group performed were penned by Liebman and Beirach, including the modal number “Pendulum”, the spacey “Carissima” and the furiously paced “Third Visit”. The live recording yields tunes that are even more frenetic and complex, including “The Code’s Secret Code” and “The Snow Leopard”. Throughout these sides, what stands out is the intense interplay between Beirach and Liebman, who was then playing soprano sax nearly exclusively along with flute on occasion. That intensity is felt even more on the duo tracks, as the pianist and saxophonist radically reinvent tunes by Coltrane, Monk, Sonny Rollins and others. Most memorable of these are a particularly emotional exploration of Monk’s “Round Midnight” by Beirach and a rapid-fire, free jazz treatment of Rollins’ “Oleo.”

EDITORIAL ON THE ART FROM BOB RUSCH-CADENCE MAGAZINE: Cadence Magazine is really quite something. Besides columns about the music and even equipment, etc., there are literally dozens of reviews of records…most of whom are by people I do not know. The magazine is more like a small book published a few times each year and is really about the music, living off of donations and the like. Cadence also has a record company with hundreds of releases, mostly avant garde, called CIMP. As well, a subsidiary of Cadence is the CD distributor North Country which a lot of people use to get their music out there. I encourage serious fans to check out Cadence. This editorial, reprinted with permission from Cadence is by Rusch who is definitely known for not holding back. Concerning art and commercialism, it intelligently calls for honesty, respect and no pretense when it comes to the music. Bob has been supportive of many artist that are shall we say “below the radar.”


A new program described here for the I phone or I pad (not sure). I guess the next thing is the phone will play the horn and drive a car at the same time!! Check the last sentence.
“MuseAmi uses different technology to correct pitch, and does so in real time. (Auto-Tune works on recordings that have already been made.) It can also generate harmonies, chosen by icons on its touch-pad screen. The icon that looks like Johann Sebastian Bach gives a singer a Baroque backup. The icon that looks like a barber pole adds three other voices for a barbershop quartet sound, with dominant chords. And there are other icons for other effects, but as Mr. Taub explained, “you don’t need to know any music theory.”

This very famous night with Trane playing Love Supreme live for the only time. is Good quality and “Impressions” at the end is incredible. This is near the end of the quartet’s time together.

PAUL GONSALVES SOLO: “Dimuendo and Crescendo in Blue:” This is a very famous solo from the tenor player with the Duke Ellington Band from the Newport Festival in 1956. It’s not so much what he played, basically a swing-be-bop combination but the feeling, the heat and the excitement in the audience is palpable. This is what jazz comes from….an uplifting joyous excitement. The whole story is narrated while you hear Paul burn it up on the blues…a million choruses.

INCREDIBLE TECHNIQUE-EARL BOSTIC: Saxophonists, you will not believe the stuff that Bostic does on the alto. David Sanborn, Mike Brecker….forget about it. Trane worked with Earl.

I met Abbey when I was a teenager at drummer Bob Moses’ New York apartment. She lived in the same building on Central Park West and was Bob’s godmother and very close with his mom. I had the great fortune to record with her in Japan in the ‘70s when I was there with Miles. The album “People and Me” included a scorching version (courtesy of drummer Al Foster) of Trane’s “Africa” which people still mention to me of from time to time. Abbey was a lovely person, a strong woman who believed in the right things and had a distinctive vocal style. She could really make you believe the lyrics of whatever song she sang.

ITINERARY(look at local listings for exact info and dates)

SEPTEMBER: Masters with Steve Kuhn, Steve Swallow, Billy Drummond at Birdland, NYC; Dave Liebman Group at the COTA Festival, Delaware Water Gap, PA; at 55 Bar, NYC; at Scullers, Boston, MA; at the Falcon, Marlboro, NY; the Turning Point, Piermont, NY; Anthology, San Diego, CA; Vitellos, Los Angeles, CA; Bach Dancing Society, Half Moon Bay, CA; Yoshis, Oakland, CA; Kuumbwa Jazz Society, Santa Cruz, CA

OCTOBER: Dave Liebman Group at Jimmy Macks, Portland, OR; Vermont Jazz Center, Brattleboro, VT; One Longfellow Square, Portland, ME ; Celebration of NEA Master’s Award and the Dave Liebman Big Band at the Deer Head Inn, Delaware Water Gap, PA; Dave Liebman Big Band record release (“As Always”) at Iridium, NYC; Manhattan School of Music Chamber Jazz Ensemble featuring Dave Liebman performing commissioned music by the Ensemble Intercontemporain(Pierre Boulez group) premiered 2009 at La Cite De Musique, Paris, France