May 23, 2024

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CD review: Dave Liebman Expansions – Selflessness: The Music Of John Coltrane 2021: Video, CD cover

As a fifteen-year-old boy, Dave Liebman, in February 1952, at the Birdland club in New York, he first saw John Coltrane. That day changed his whole life, directing it in a certain direction.

Coltrane became a guiding star throughout his long career – both when he was a young musician, and when he became a mature master and one of the best soprano saxophonists in the world, and when in 2011 he was awarded the highest award for American jazz musicians, the title of NEA Jazz Master. Liebman never concealed that he owed all his achievements to Coltrane’s music and repeatedly paid tribute to him both by participating in various tribute concerts and by his own tribute albums.

Libman’s extensive discography includes such albums as Homage To John Coltrane, Compassion (with Joe Lovano), Joy (with his own big band), JohnColtrane’s Meditations, Lieb Plays the Blues á laTrane. This year another album is added to the collection of tributes: Selflessness.

The Dave Liebman Expansions project, in which Dave plays with his former students, has been around for a long time, and a number of albums of this project have been covered in our reviews. So Selflessness was recorded as part of this project. It is characteristic that the composition of the ensemble has not changed all these years – an excellent evidence of the close connection of the musicians and the desire of Dave’s partners to continue working with him. Dave Liebman Expansions includes alto saxophonist Matt Washlishan, pianist and keyboardist Bobby Avie, bassist Tony Moreno and drummer Alex Ritz.

For the next tribute, Liebman selected a program of nine Coltrane compositions, creatively rethinking and re-arranging them, and with extensive use of electronics. There are no random and uninteresting tracks here: from the starting Mr. Day and until the final Dear Lord listen to the music of John Coltrane, presented by one of his most talented followers with unremitting attention and great pleasure. Libman’s skill does not need comments, and it seemed to me that his partners played this program with particular enthusiasm. Moving on to personal impressions, I especially liked the version of Coltrane’s “Spanish” piece Olé, where, putting aside his crown soprano saxophone, Liebman played on a wooden flute, and drummer Ritz operated with a frame drum.

I can add that synthesizers did not interfere with the spirit of Coltrane’s music in the least. And one last thing: Dot Time Records releases the album on September 3 – the day before Dave Liebman’s 75th birthday, which, of course, is no coincidence.

1. Mr. Day
2. Compassion
3. My Favorite Things
4. Ole
5. Lazy Bird
6. Peace On Earth
7. One Up One Down
8. Selflessness
9. Dear Lord

Dave Liebman – Soprano Sax, Wooden Flute (Track 4)
Matt Vashlishan – Alto Sax, Flute (6, 9) Clarinet (4), Wind Synth (2)
Bobby Avey – Piano, Keyboard/Synth (4, 2, 8, 9)
Tony Marino – Acoustic Bass
Alex Ritz – Drums, Frame Drum (4)

Dave Liebman Expansions Selflessness: The Music Of John Coltrane LP

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