David Liebman

Miles Away

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Dave Liebman, who played with Miles Davis' group during 1974-1975, pays tribute to the innovative trumpeter throughout this excellent Owl CD. To Liebman's credit, he does not ignore Davis' fusion period; in fact, he starts out with the most recent composition (Robert Irving's "Code M.D." from 1984) and works his way backwards chronologically. Actually, with Vic Juris often playing rockish guitar and the older tunes being reharmonized, there is a definite unity and freshness to the material. Charles Mingus' moody ballad "Smooch" comes across as quite contemporary while "Solar" sounds like it could have been written in the 1970s. Liebman's highly expressive soprano, Juris' echoey guitar, and pianist Phil Markowitz are the main soloists, but everyone plays quite well; the inclusion of Caris Visentin's English horn on "Pan Piper" (from Sketches of Spain) is a nice touch. Because this project does not merely copy the past but brings some fresh insight to the material, one suspects that even Miles Davis would have liked the results.

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