RT 9338 (2010)
Dave Liebman: soprano & tenor saxes, indian bamboo flute
Relevance (second set)
All music by
Recorded at The Vortex, in London,
Free Jazz - Stef Gijssels
Dave Liebman explains in the liner notes that he has a wish list of musicians he wants to perform with, and that Evan Parker was on top of that list. Drummer Tony Bianco managed to arrange a gig. The three met, and without further ado hit the stage for a fully improvised concert, resulting in this fantastic album. The first piece starts as a "tenor battle" in the best tradition, a real blow fest in which the two hornsmen meet and greet, challenge and respond, push forward and push forward, relentlessly supported by Bianco's nervous and thundering drumming, and when you think they will calm down a bit, the exact opposite happens: tension increases, energy levels are raised, with each one stepping back for a few minutes to let the other play solo a little, but then they lock horns again, and yes, they do calm down, giving Bianco some space, but that is of course only until the storm breaks loose again.
The second piece starts calm and meditatively, with the two saxes easily finding a common language and tone, but then halfway the piece Bianco seems tired of their musings and increases the tempo, and the intensity of the sax dialogue, which continues to evolve in the best traditions of the "Tenor Madness" album by Sonny Rollins with John Coltrane that Liebman refers to in the liner notes, with the only difference, that what Liebman and Parker get out of their saxes was not only inconceivable in 1957, but it surely must sound as real madness to the two jazz legends. The last track starts with drum rumbling and bamboo flute, then Parker takes over on sax, for some shamanistic yet sensitive playing.
Even if these two virtuosi have never played together, the ease with which they find common ground, in every respect, is stunning. So is the music. Fierce, energetic and surprisingly warm.
All About Jazz - Nic Jones
This release documents the first time that saxophonists Dave Liebman and Evan Parker have worked together and given their respective lengths of service to the music, this is remarkable. What is less so, is the fact that they so readily found a common language given their respective takes on the aesthetic of John Coltrane. Of the two, Parker has always been the greater—one might say the more dogmatic—advocate of free music, but given the diversity of Liebman's discography it's easy to lose sight of how fluent he is in that particular musical tongue.
So emphatically is this the case here, that at times it's difficult to distinguish one from the other. Parker has something of a track record of working in duos with drummers—names like John Stevens, Eddie Prevost and Paul Lovens spring readily to mind—but here the conversation is democratically three-way for all that. "Relevance part 1" is shot through with the kind of energy that ensures the music rolls and boils. Although the notion of leadership is disingenuous given the nature of the music, it's true to say that Tony Bianco is largely responsible for this, imparting momentum as he does to even the more reflective moments.
"Relevance part 2" is more reflective and occupies a distinct space compared with, for example, Parker's work with John Stevens. Here both saxophonists utilize the soprano sax, but again they manage to avoid the territory already covered by the modest glut of soprano players working in this area. The music exemplifies also the degree to which Parker is a cooperator in the best sense. His solo vocabulary on the straight horn is marked by circular breathing and other tools of extended technique, as if silence signals only some diminution of power, whilst in this group setting he's but one voice in three, in thrall to the moment and the contributions of his fellows as everyone else.
Albert Ayler walks the margins on "Relevance part 3" which finds Liebman evoking his spirit once the piece evolves with his use of wide vibrato. That collective energy comes into its own again but Bianco is nothing if not a listener, something emphasized also on the last part, where Liebman's Indian bamboo flute has the effect of taking the music outside of the free continuum. The results are nonetheless compelling, and not simply because they're less forthright than a lot of the musical outcomes here. As it is, the shared ground prevails again in this fertile meeting of minds.
All About Jazz - Mark Corroto
It is hard to imagine that these two saxophone titans, Dave Liebman and Evan Parker, had never met on stage before this 2008 concert at The Vortex in London. Both are innovators with a distinct, almost larger than life sound and they combine forces to make this meeting very special.
Back in the 1970s, Liebman was chosen by Miles Davis to help drive the trumpeter's sound on recordings like On The Corner (Columbia, 1972), Dark Magus (Columbia, 1974), and Get Up With It (Columbia, 1974). At the same time, Parker was fostering the European free music scene with Peter Brotzmann and Chris McGregor. Fast-forward some thirty plus years and both musicians have established solid careers and dedicated followers.
Putting the two saxophonists on stage together tempts an old fashion cutting contest or perhaps a last- man-standing show of endurance, however this is not the case. The energy of these two sets may be draining, but it's that good kind of tired.
Credit goes to Tony Bianco, the New York born drummer who has made a career playing free jazz in Europe. His unremitting pulse sustains this date throughout, playing with such ferocity that neither saxophonist has the opportunity or possibility to overshadow the other. It might be said that he steals the show.
The recording is broken down into two sets and four parts. The first three parts are barn burners, matching both Liebman and Parker on tenor saxophones, soprano saxophones, and a combination of both. Neither treads upon the other's territory, instead they opt to circle each other, encouraging a seemingly constant increase in animation. Spread between the right and left channel, the beauty of each player's sound is revealed. The last "Part 4," acts as the audience's re-entry with Liebman switching to flute and Parker maintaining his signature soprano sound. With Bianco on mallets, the ease of the trio's interaction allowing everyone to regain their real world senses.
All About Jazz - Ken Waxman
Relevance offers one of the most spectacular examples of unrestrained tenor—and soprano—madness since John Coltrane recorded with Pharoah Sanders. Instructively it's difficult to tell one reedist from the other, a fact that is unsurprising since both men's styles initially derive from Trane. While the duets are linear, any fireworks expressed are kept within the creative framework by the solid rolls, pops and jagged rebounds of Bianco. From the beginning it's likely Liebman on tenor who latches onto hocketing squeaks and extended vibrato runs while Parker's tenor playing evolves from irregular diaphragm-forced runs to reed biting. More moderato on sopranos, the two create in double counterpoint. Only in the second set does Parker use circular breathing; in response Liebman unrolls throat-tightening dissonance and triple-tonguing. Before switching back to tenors for an additional layer of contrapuntal contours, one saxophonist sounds an adagio tone that could come from a country blues fiddle.
All About Jazz - Jerry D'Souza
Saxophonists Dave Liebman and Evan Parker have established careers as improvisers of the first order. Both are visionaries unafraid of taking risks, and fathoming unusual territory. Their impulses may be driven by fragments or lengthy declamations, but in the end they wrap it up with cohesive logic. The high level of skill is evident on this CD, recorded live at the Vortex in London for a BBC broadcast.
Liebman had long wanted to play with Parker, and his hopes materialized through drummer Tony Bianco, who arranged for the performance to take place. As Liebman tells it, they said "hello," went onstage and improvised two sets that each went on for over 70 minutes.
The empathy between the three, which is stunning, runs right across the sets, balanced between intense, driving improvisation and gentler, melodic permutations
How much intensity can two saxophonists derive? The answer comes on "Part 1," which has angular trajectories and quicksilver shards that never lag. The pace is intense, as Parker and Liebman engage each other through a host of intertwining elements. In a situation like this, with both playing soprano and tenor saxophones, it is difficult to tell them apart. But it is that very situation which makes the music amazing, as they establish and nourish a symbiotic relationship.
"Part 4" is the calm before the end. Bianco, the integral driving magnet of polyrhythm, is a surge of ideas that slowly raise the tempo. Liebman rinses it with a pastoral air on Indian bamboo flute, as he shapes a melody and then lets it blossom. Parker is introspective on tenor, as he caresses a steely edge and then unreels a tumble of nimble phrases.
Free, volatile and airily becoming, Liebman, Parker and Bianco pack it all in spades.
Paris Transatlantic - Stephen Griffith
According to Dave Liebman's liners on Relevance, he's wanted to play with Evan Parker for a long time, and as Parker has always shown a willingness to make new musical acquaintances on the bandstand (witness the various lineups of his recent two-week stint at The Stone in New York), drummer Bianco accordingly arranged a January 27, 2008 performance at the Vortex. The results, taped by the BBC, were two improvised trio sets of slightly under 40 minutes apiece. Each begins with a long blowout, rounding things off with a shorter, more pensive coda; the saxophonists switch between tenor and soprano, with Liebman adding bamboo flute at the conclusion. In the second set they seem more comfortable with each other's playing, and the performance is perhaps slightly more satisfying, but the initial squaring off of two Coltrane-influenced tenors has its own unique pleasures. Parker is as always adaptable to his partner's approach, sublimating his standard soprano pyrotechnics into a more collaborative form, particularly in the second set, where he introduces some odd Monkish elements that elicit a ferocious tenor performance from Liebman. Liebman refers to Bianco's drumming as "a flowing and consistent carpet": fair enough, though you might want to add "roiling" to that description. Liebman compares this encounter to the "Tenor Madness" meeting of Coltrane and Rollins, which might seem an overweening comparison but isn't all that off-base given the stature of the participants. Like that encounter, Relevance might well be only a one-off, but it's an excellent one, documenting the give and take of two modern masters of the saxophone. –SG
Le son du grisli
Dave Liebman désirait depuis longtemps rencontrer Evan Parker. Chose fut faite le 27 janvier 2008 au Vortex sous l’œil bienveillant du batteur Tony Bianco. Un Tony Bianco martelant sans discontinuer (quelque chose du Rashied Ali d’Interstellar Space), insistant plus sur les fûts que sur les cymbales et dont le rôle de catalyseur-déclencheur (parfois arbitre) n’échappera à personne.
Bien sûr, Coltrane ne peut s’oublier. Qui est le plus coltranien dans la forme ? Qui est le plus coltranien dans l’esprit ? Qu’importe finalement. En deux sets pleins et rugueux, Liebman et Parker se lancent le défi de l’intense. Les flèches sont lancées, trouvent cibles en leurs centres. Il y a du vertige dans ces crescendos homériques, dans ce continuum athlétique (les sas de décompression – toujours à la charge du percutant – y sont rares). Le second set est plus dense (grand solo de Liebman au soprano, idem pour Parker au ténor) et une flûte indienne en bambou s’intercale pour quelques minutes. Un disque sans le moindre temps mort et, finalement, assez féroce.
Cadence - Grego Applegate Edwards
Relevance is a long-spun trio outing of Liebman with the seminal out saxophony of Evan Parker and the busily driving Free drumming of Tony Bianco. Evan Parker does what he does beautifully and thatís what he does here. But of course itís Liebman who is not often set in a Free energy zone and he shows on this disk that he can hold his own with Parker for invention, stamina, and volcanic energy. The disk sports three long, totally Free improvisations and what results is one of the more exhilarating sessions Iíve heard in a long time. The two-way dialog Dave and Evan get going is rather breathtaking and Bianco is perfectly irrepressible, insatiable in his stoking of the flames. Those that donít care for the all-stops-open hoot-out should stay away from this one. Others will find some of the best playing on record for both saxophonists. Now thatís saying something. Liebmanís chromatic mastery and sound color control is something to hear and Evan continues at the top of his game. Simply ravishing!
Cadence oct - nov - dec 2010
MusicWorks — Stuart Broomer
The saxophonists Dave Liebman and Evan Parker might not immediately strike one as likely associates: Liebman, a one-time member of Miles Davis’ electric band, usually works well within the jazz tradition; Parker is usually associated with free improvisation and a mastery of techniques including circular breathing and polyphonic lines. However they share strong common roots in the music of John Coltrane, Liebman emphasizing the harmonic discourse, Parker the molecular exploration of rhythmic and melodic motifs of Coltrane’s final energy-music phase. The result here is a cheerful explosion of free jazz, two senior masters reaching to their insistent roots to explore musical fraternity, creating in the process firestorms of saxophone blowout in company with drummer Tony Bianco whose fiercely knitted rolls form a dense moving backdrop for their dialogue. While Parker and Liebman have distinct characteristic sounds—the former gruffer and more vocal, the latter more metallic—so intense are the empathy and cohesion here that there are moments in which identities merge and shift, each passing through the mirror of instrumental voices. While their soprano saxophones provide passages of light and reflection, it’s the dark intensity of the tenor exchanges that is most memorable in one of the year’s most impassioned releases.
MusicWorks 108: Music as Power (dec 2010) — Stuart Broomer