David Liebman

Lieb Plays the Blues à la Trane

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Jazz is often at its best when musicians come to a live performance without preplanning a set, which is the case when David Liebman recorded this trio set at a Belgium club called De Singer in 2008. With the strong support of bassist Marius Beets and drummer Eric Ineke, Liebman tackles five blues either written or recorded by John Coltrane, starting with a breezy, playful version of Miles Davis' "All Blues" that swings like mad, with the soprano saxophonist making great use of space and taking the piece far beyond its usual horizon. Liebman's free-ranging exploration of Coltrane's infrequently recorded "Village Blues" is a welcome addition to his discography, as the leader shows a bit of the master's influence in his powerful, avant-gardish soprano solo. The remaining songs feature Liebman on tenor sax. Liebman doesn't simply go through the motions in the loping "Up Against the Wall"; he gives his instrument a workout, exploring nearly every possible path. Liebman features both Beets and Ineke prior to taking the spotlight in his romp through Coltrane's "Mr. P.C." Beets is the initial soloist in Duke Ellington's "Take the Coltrane," setting the table with a brilliant effort before Liebman explodes from the gate with a burning effort of his own. The intimate setting of this club performance gives the listener a front-row table and the opportunity to enjoy an NEA Jazz Master at the top of his game with the help of a superb rhythm section.

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