Sketches of Spain Live

David Liebman / Manhattan School of Music Jazz Orchestra

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Sketches of Spain Live Review

by Ken Dryden

Dave Liebman describes Sketches of Spain as his longtime favorite piece of music, a captivating work conceived by composer/arranger Gil Evans for trumpeter Miles Davis, which became one of their landmark recordings together. When Liebman learned that Evans' score to this extended work was available, he jumped at the chance to perform it with an orchestra, with his soprano sax substituting for Davis' horn. This concert featuring Liebman with the Manhattan School of Music Jazz Orchestra was not recorded with the intention of making a CD, but when it was played back, all parties agreed that it was a major event. Liebman's striking solos within the extended movement from Joaquín Rodrigo's "Concierto de Aranjuez" are easily the high point. His anguished soprano punctuates Evans' "Saeta," with a drum cadence behind him suggesting a prisoner about to face a firing squad or a troubled soldier about to face death on the battlefield. He switches to tenor sax for the finale, Evans' stark, lonely "Solea." The audio is superb throughout this moving concert and jazz fans who own the expanded Legacy Edition of Davis' Sketches of Spain owe it to themselves to compare the trumpeter's live recording to Liebman's equally brilliant effort.

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