Comfortable with both inside and outside playing, soprano saxman Dave Liebman has shown himself to be admirably flexible over the years. Liebman has appeared in avant-garde settings at times, but he has been equally successful on very straight-ahead albums, and his performances are definitely straight-ahead on Depth of Emotion, a 2006 date he co-leads with vibist/pianist/marimba player Ed Saindon. This 72-minute CD (which includes a few standards but is dominated by Saindon's compositions) obviously called for Liebman to emphasize his more lyrical side, and he does exactly that on thoughtful, reflective Saindon pieces such as "The Last Goodbye," "Giorgio's Theme," and the Brazilian-influenced "São Paolo." That is not to say that Depth of Emotion does not have its cerebral moments; the standard "On Green Dolphin Street," for example, is given a decidedly angular treatment from Saindon and Liebman (who form an acoustic quartet with bassist David Clark and drummer Mark Walker). And their interpretation of "Moon River," although melodic, isn't nearly as sentimental as other recordings of the Henry Mancini/Johnny Mercer favorite. Listeners who associate "Moon River" with the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany's (starring Audrey Hepburn) will have one of two reactions to the Saindon/Liebman version: either they will long for something more sentimental, or they will applaud Saindon and Liebman for taking the song in a different direction, and if a listener has the second reaction, you will know that he/she really understands what makes many post-bop musicians tick. But Depth of Emotion is, on the whole, a lyrical and fairly accessible session for Saindon and Liebman, who are in equally strong form on this memorable disc.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson