David Liebman

Elements: Water

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With this CD, Liebman kicked off a cycle of four albums inspired by the so-called elements -- Water, Earth, Fire and Air -- attempting to cover a wide range of the moods and emotions that Water suggests. Indeed, Liebman succeeds in coaxing a wide variety of styles out of the H2O motif, from the perhaps unintended new age-like quality of "Reflecting Pool" to the Ornette Coleman-like linear workout of "Ebb and Flow" -- and the opening theme returns at the close to give the album a cyclical spin. Though the material is somewhat uneven in inspiration at times, it does show off the Liebman soprano sax in often optimum form, and he also plays resonantly-recorded tenor and a pitch-bending Indian wood flute. Liebman obtains expert help from Pat Metheny, who is eminently equipped to handle the Ornette manner on guitar synthesizer as well as playing straight bop licks on electric guitar on "Storm Surge." Liebman also brings back his great flexible rhythm section from the Seasons album -- bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Billy Hart -- who know how to mix it up. The last track is an interview with Liebman by Arkadia label chief Bob Karcy that functions as little more than an electronic press kit.

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