David Liebman

In a Mellow Tone

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Dave Liebman is joined by guitarist Vic Juris, bassist Tony Marino, and drummer Jamey Haddad for this session concentrating primarily on original works. But Liebman has a few surprises in store. Opening the CD on tenor sax, he takes Duke Ellington's normally swinging "In a Mellow Tone" on a radically different path, sidestepping its theme a good part of the time in a loping post-bop arrangement, while retaining its lyricism. Liebman's mournful soprano sax transforms "My Heart Will Go On" (the hit song from the movie Titanic) into a viable jazz vehicle. Liebman and Juris have no trouble negotiating Lennie Tristano's unusual "Wow," an intricate work that obviously tested the skills of the two veterans. Five of the compositions heard on this date are Liebman's. The upbeat "Child at Play" suggests a happy youngster on a breezy spring day without a care in the world, while he switches to wooden flute for his exotic "The Sun King." "Vamp to Life" blends post-bop with Latin rhythms, suggesting a parade, with Liebman's honking tenor sax and Juris' crisp acoustic guitar. Juris contributed two songs of his own. He plays guitar synthesizer on the eerie "Chance of Rain," with Liebman making a late entrance with an especially haunting tenor sax solo. Juris' "Romulan Ale" (he's obviously a fan of the television series Star Trek) is a catchy diversion, though it may be hard for fans of the program to think of these rather reserved and abrupt alien characters in a partying mood, but that's musical license! The superb supporting work of Marino and Haddad is obviously a factor in the consistently high level of playing throughout this enjoyable CD.

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