Lucid Culture


Dave Liebman Delivers an Adrenalizing, Unexpected Trio Album

This album – titled The Dave Liebman Trio Plays the Blues a la Trane –  was in the can for awhile before Liebman might have said to himself, “Hey, why not release this?” And why not? He’s the rare artist who could probably get away with releasing pretty much everything he plays – which he may realize, because he’s pretty much been doing that lately. This set has the saxophone giant playing in a trio situation at a live date in Belgium in the spring of 2008 with Marius Beets on bass and Eric Ineke on drums, an interestingly stripped-down configuration in light of Liebman’s recent, noteworthy big band work. The official story is that Liebman decided to go completely off program for this one and jam out on a series of blues by John Coltrane, or associated with him. It’s both fresh – especially for the rhythm section – and retro at the same time.

On tenor, Liebman wastes no time establishing a formidable attack, one rapidfire spiral after another on Miles Davis’ All Blues, following a late 50s Trane style, exploratory yet managing not to meander. The rhythm section quickly falls into place, Ineke with a loose, funky shuffle against Beets’ lean, fluid pulse that turns wintry and somewhat wry when it comes time for his solo toward the end. Throughout the album, they hold their places, leaving centerstage to Liebman aside from the occasional solo spot. Trane’s Up Against the Wall shuffles steadily along with a genial New Orleans swing: it’s the most straight-up number here. Mr. P.C. features a long, bright, sprightly bass solo (too low in the mix, as is the case all night, the one drawback with this album), Ineke taking a long, playful 3-on-2 solo. Liebman prowls around the minor blues scale or its edges, turning up the heat with the glissandos, but with restraint. A long, methodically crescendoing Village Blues – the one tune here with any real handoffs between the players – sees Liebman wrapping up his final soprano sax salvo unexpectedly – “OK, I’ve made my point, that’s all I’ve got to to say.” Ellington’s Take the Coltrane, tongue-in-cheek in its original version and just as jaunty here, opens with a bass solo and ends the set on an upbeat note. The album is best experienced in its entirety: as an unintended suite, it works strikingly well. It’s a must-own for Liebman fans, and Trane fans ought to enjoy this just as much, a worthwhile homage from one of the greats of this era to one from another. Liebman has an auspicious stand coming up at Birdland on February 22-26 with with his famous 80s quartet including pianist Richie Beirach, bassist Ron McClure and drummer Billy Hart.

January 20, 2011 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Stellar Concert at the Bulgarian Consulate

Despite all the cuts in funding to the arts over the past couple of years, there are still innumerable vital neighborhood concert series hidden away in unexpected places throughout New York, and we have not come close to discovering all of them. One recent rediscovery is the exciting chamber music series at the Bulgarian Consulate on the upper east. Last night Trio+ played an unselfconsciously inspired program that blended the comfortably familiar with some unexpected treats.

Pianist Vadim Serebryany, of Huntingdon College in Alabama, opened with Alban Berg’s Piano Sonata, Op. 1, a defiant evasion of any kind of resolution. Serebryany left plenty of room for hammering home the crescendos when he needed to, through the matter-of-factly fugal tradeoffs between righthand and the left in the first movement, the more sustained middle passages and the hint of a triumphant theme to close it: acidic tonalities within familiar architecture delivered with a confident familiarity with its strengths.

Cellist Wolfram Koessel (of the American String Quartet, and concertmaster for the Mark Morris Dance group) was joined by violinist Yosuke Kawasaki (of Japan’s National Arts Centre Orchestra) for a fearlessly intense romp through Ravel’s Sonata for Violin and Cello. It sounds like nothing Ravel wrote before or after, a jarring, percussive series of juxtapositions that could easily pass for Bartok in places. Yet as astringently assaultive as much of it is, it’s an opportunity for musicians to interweave those striking gestures with grace, and that’s what Koessel and Kawasaki did. The first movement is a series of convergences and divergences, themes shifting from one instrument to another and unexpectedly resolving counterrythms that seemed perfectly logical in the hands of these two. And when it came time for Koessel to switch from pizzicato to sweeping sustain, rather than smoothing it out, he dug in with an intensity that kept the joyous ferocity going full steam. The biting cantabile of the third movement and the clever exchanges of ideas and role reversals in the somewhat triumphant final one were delivered with fluidity yet also with wallop.

The exuberant fun continued when Serebryany joined them for a similarly spirited version of Schubert’s Piano Trio in B-flat Major, Op. 98 (D898). The catchy (some might say somewhat cloying) first movement is a staple of classical radio, something that WQXR would throw on regularly at about five minutes before the hour back in the day. This trio took the theme, went deep into it and pulled out every bit of operatic grandeur, then elevated the andante pocco mosso second movement from a lullaby to a majestic, swaying dance on the waves, then traded off with an occasional smirk on the final scherzo and rondo, Serebryany’s impeccably imperturbable fluidity the perfect anchor for the energized swells and accents of the strings. The series here (121 E 67th. between Park and Lexington Aves.) continues on February 16 at 7:30 PM with an all-Beethoven program by violinist Georgy Valtchev, cellist Amir Eldan and pianist Lora Tchekoratova.

January 20, 2011 Posted by | classical music, concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment