Richie Beirach / Frankfurt Radio Bigband / David Liebman

Quest for Freedom

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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden

Dave Liebman and Richie Beirach made a number of important recordings together in small groups (Quest and Pendulum) and as a duo during the 1970s and 1980s, but for these 2009 sessions, they are guest soloists with the Frankfurt Radio Bigband, arranged and conducted by Jim McNeely. Beirach's dark, brisk "Pendulum" proves to be a powerful opener, with thrilling solos by the tenor saxophonist and the composer, plus a wild, freewheeling feature for Liebman on soprano sax. Liebman's "Vendetta" is a haunting melody; Beirach opens it alone and is soon joined by Liebman, with the reeds and brass providing background colors later. There is no mistaking the inspiration for Liebman's "WTC." He introduces it alone on his piercing, emotional wood flute, with Beirach gradually adding dark chords. As the composer switches to soprano, one can feel the anguish of September 11, 2001, with rumbling percussion and sporadic bursts from the brass and reeds. McNeely contributed "The Sky Is the Limit," an extended work that proves to be another strong showcase for Liebman and Beirach. This is yet another memorable chapter in the considerable joint discography of Dave Liebman and Richie Beirach.

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