Liberty Ellman


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Guitarist Liberty Ellman's highly enjoyable debut is an ultra-hip mix of abstract swing and spacey but intense groove. The slow, odd-metered funk and seductive melody of "Psi Missing" make it a standout. Some of the tunes are rather long and take on the feel of a loose, repetitive jam. It's hard to blame Ellman for giving his phenomenal bandmates so much solo room, however, especially saxophonist Eric Crystal and pianist Vijay Iyer. Ellman carves out an understated, almost modest niche for himself on guitar. Chops are not his bag, but he never fails to generate ideas and energy. He also gets plenty of mileage from a clean, fat tone with no effects. His jazz roots are underscored beautifully on a piano/guitar duo rendition of Billy Strayhorn's "Blood Count." Yet he's not afraid to travel outside of the jazz universe and take advantage of new musical frontiers: Check out the subtle turntables of DJ Pause on the opening track, "Translator."

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