Since 1974, after my apprenticeship years with Elvin Jones and Miles Davis, I have had a total of four bands under my name. I believe in keeping the same personnel together for an extended period of time. From the listener’s standpoint I feel that the musical presentation is consistently at a higher level than in temporary groups.
In 1991, I disbanded the group that I had for nearly ten years, Quest. Most of the music had been improvised with a strong 1960’s Miles and Coltrane influence, cast in our own way. The time had come for me to play and write more composed music with counter lines, synthesizer colors, eighth note and odd meter rhythms, and in general more tightly organized structures.
I had known guitarist Vic Juris for a few years, and sensed that he was anxious to get deeply involved in a body of music. He had all the prerequisites-great time, tone and a strong drive. But most of all Vic displayed a totally serious attitude and high degree of discipline. I had used guitar in my music previously with the Dave Liebman Quintet in the late 1970s in the person of John Scofield. For this new group I envisioned the guitar as the second horn and Vic was perfect.
After moving in 1987 to the Pocono Mountain region, about an hour and a half west of New York, I began playing with a local bassist who did all the gigs in the area, Tony Marino. Here was a musician who was self taught with a high degree of natural talent and an intense, focused energy when he played. He could play any style, and for this new music I required both electric and acoustic bass in different feels, of course with the ability to handle complex harmonies. Tony was right for the task.
I had been familiar with drummer Jamey Haddad for years. Tony had played with him, which in my mind is crucial to a band’s artistic success, that the drum/bass team enjoys and complements each other musically. Jamey was gaining a reputation for having the unique combination of a jazz background along with an understanding of world rhythms, particularly the frame drum and a tablalike instrument he invented called the Hadgini drum.
The first incarnation of the Dave Liebman Group lasted from 1991 through 1997 and included pianist Phil Markowitz.. After Phil’s departure, Vic assumed the role of chordal accompanist as well as being the primary composer and soloist after myself. The entire sound became leaner, more single-line oriented and jazz-like without the keyboards. Jamey’s intense left hand patter and way of phrasing in odd groupings became more evident.
The music on this CD was recorded in the summer of 2001 prior to Jamey joining the pop world with Paul Simon. We figured that we should record the fruits of our labors and
document this particular band’s material. Interestingly enough, though this band was a burner in the live
situation, this recording has a rather mellow vibe, and a lot more tenor sax than usual. Most of all, the recording demonstrates a wide variety of feels, moods and settings ranging from straight-ahead jazz to reharmonized ballads to world music and even free form.
THE REPERTOIRE :
In A Mellow Tone: Depending upon one’s aesthetic, the reharmonization of standards is either a fresh look or a travesty. This treatment features a good dose of polychords and written bass lines. However, the mellow mood of Duke’s tune is sustained throughout, despite the stark nature of the chords.
Child At Play: One day when picking my daughter up at school, I watched Lydia and her friends running around the school yard in the warmth and splendor of a spring day after a long winter. The melody is inspired by that scene and is supported by a variety of colorful, consonant sounding harmonies.
Chance of Rain: Vic captures the atmosphere of an impending rainfall in this moody waltz with its beautiful combination of melody and harmony.
The Sun King: I wrote this tune in the 1970s when Badal Roy was in my group, Lookout Farm, playing tablas, depicting the spirit of the mythical Sun King.
Chant: This is straight-ahead burning jazz tune very much in the Art Blakey Jazz Messengers mode, albeit with some contemporary harmonies.
My Heart Will Go On: After hearing this song so many times around my home through my daughter, I thought that it would be interesting to reharmonize it. The melody is truly beautiful and lyrical.
Romulan Ale: In Vic’s ode to the great TV show, Star Trek, some odd harmonies and unusual melodic motifs feature the group in a contemporary rhythmic groove.
Wow: This head was written by Lennie Tristano with whom I studied at the beginning of my jazz odyssey. This man was a real genius and individualist who came up with an alternate view of how to play bebop.
Change Up: This tune was written specifically for the acoustic guitar and soprano commemorating the change of the group when Phil left the band in 1997.
Vamp To Life: The same melody harmonized two times is a song of joy to celebrate life and a fitting way to close the recording.
Hope you enjoy!!