“…the music is simply terrific. Water is Liebman’s first recording with Metheny, and it’s a solid combination… if he just keeps making records as engaging as this one, that’ll be libation enough: a tall glass of water.” – Downbeat Magazine
20-time Grammy Award winner Pat Metheny plays alongside saxophone virtuoso David Liebman as he leads this remarkable quartet, that includes Jazz architects Cecil McBee and Billy Hart, as they examine the expansive and elusive nature of the primordial element, Water. From impressionistic ballads to tsunamis of sound, David Liebman’s Arkadia Records album, The Elements: Water is probably the most ambitious project of Liebman’s career.
“Here’s a Jazz concept album that actually works quite well… The combination of Liebman and Metheny is particularly strong, ranging from soft, ethnic-sounding passages to roaring avant-garde explosiveness – a potent reminder that there is far more to Jazz in the ‘90s than the more frequently heard, retro examinations of the past.” – Don Heckman, Los Angeles Times
“They produce a greater variety of timbres and textures than most quartets due to Liebman doubling on tenor and soprano sax and wood flute and Metheny employing several guitars: acoustic, electric, guitar synth, and Pikasso guitar. Each group member plays impressively. Liebman has a bright, attractive soprano sound and displays considerable rhythmic grace when playing the instrument. On tenor he’s powerful; his solid full lower register work deserves special attention. And what a nice, big flute sound he produces.” – Harvey Pekar, JazzTimes Magazine
Teaming up with guitar prodigy Pat Metheny, reedist David Liebman, who plays tenor saxophone, soprano sax, and wood flute, explores through music the various aspects and facets of water, giver of life and refresher of souls. The combination of Liebman and Metheny on this album is stunning. While the Arkadia Records album, Dave Liebman: The Elements: Water, leans towards Jazz’s less traditional sensibilities, it also contains an earthy quality that connects it to the sounds of nature, and in doing so creates an organic yet contemporary album that’s both accessible and inventive.
- Water: Giver of Life – 6:32
- White Caps – 7:10
- Heaven’s Gift – 4:27
- Bass Interlude – 2:09
- Reflecting Pool – 7:06
- Storm Surge – 8:56
- Guitar Interlude – 1:19
- Baptismal Font – 4:14
- Ebb and Flo – 5:58
- Water Theme (reprise) – 1:12
- Liebman’s reflections on Water – 8:53
David Liebman: Soprano sax/tenor sax, wood flute
Pat Metheny: Guitars
Billy Hart: Drums
Cecil McBee: Bass
Composed by Dave Liebman
Liner notes by: Howard Mandel
Produced by: Bob Karcy
Total Time: 57:55 minutes
What the Critics Say:
“…Liebman takes off into the stratosphere with his ministrations on the soprano…Water takes on the form it is given. Here it flows every which way.” – Jerry D’Souza, Planet Jazz
“…luxuriate in musicianship at an Olympian level. McBee and Hart work clairvoyantly together. They rumble like rolling thunder through “Storm Surge” and rustle gently behind “Heaven’s Gift”. Pat Metheny really works hard on this date, as if Liebman’s compositions dared him to extend his guitar concept… As for the leader, he’s playing on a level like that of Sonny Rollins in the late 50’s — very complex, harmonically rich, and technically assured. His command is so complete it’s a little scary… a raging, majestic thunderstorm to behold with wonder.” – John Chacona, Signal to Noise
“For over three decades, saxophonist Dave Liebman has been putting out some of the finest modern jazz in the world… “The Elements: Water” is a thematic album based on water, and the result is one of Liebman’s most harmonically adventurous and profound works to date…Nothing is stock on this album. There are no bop clichés and the compositions are all effective in evoking the vastness of the subject matter. Highly recommended.” – David Dorkin, Fuse Reviews
“…gutsy soloing… Liebman has, since his days in support of an electrified Miles Davis, been equally as daring in trusting the instincts and talents of his sidemen, balancing their input with the tight compositional style and crisp sax delivery found on cuts such as “Storm Surge”. The saxophonist has chosen an appropriate element to tribute, one that parallels his fluidity… This is definitely not music for the bath and will become a cup of the cold stuff in the face of those who prefer their jazz more formulaic. – Dave McElfresh, Goldmine
“Soprano sax icon and modern jazz pioneer Dave Liebman teams up with the equally talented and famous jazz guitarist Pat Metheny for their first ever recording. On “White Caps”, Liebman picks up the tenor ax as his phrasing is furious and stinging…vivid imagery, which at times becomes lifelike… “The Elements: Water” is all about lucid imagery rendered through composition and fine ensemble work. 3.5 stars.” – Glenn Astarita, allaboutjazz.com
“The indelible influence of John Coltrane on Liebman’s tenor style (he also plays soprano) plays out very effectively here, especially on the thornier numbers. A challenging often beautiful set. – Jared Rutter, Players
“A thoroughly provocative record centered on a topical theme of water… Liebman is abundantly able to take his visions and transmute them into action terms with signal success as he has achieved on this project… Liebman’s first choice of the elements is strong…Liebman assembled a cast of compatible, dynamite musicians invested with intuitive sensibilities and adaptabilities… In essence, Liebman is a passionate composer-player-educator persistently seeking to create and share. “The Elements: Water” is just such an adventure not to be missed…” – Dr. Herb Wong, Jazz Educators Journal
“”Water”, the first of four projected suites inspired by the elements, deserves the attention of anyone drawn to the John Coltrane-Wayne Shorter lineage of tenor and soprano sax. Along with the impeccable rhythm section of drummer Billy Hart and bassist Cecil McBee, “Water” features an animated Pat Metheny exploring nearly as many colors on electric and acoustic guitars as Liebman does on his horns and wood flute.” – Richardson, San Francisco Bay Guardian
“…(the album) is both a showcase of great jazz performing and composing… It all comes together and sounds tremendous, and this is a special group of musicians… I highly recommend this recording to any lover of serious improvisational jazz. You won’t be disappointed.” – About.com
About Dave Liebman:
As a teenager, when he first caught sight (and sound) of John Coltrane playing at New York’s famous Birdland Club, David Liebman fell instantly in love with jazz. A virtuoso on the soprano sax, and an innovative composer, Lieb’s attachment to jazz has always been something more than musical. The spirit behind the music and the community of musicians and listeners all figure into his life in jazz.
The Beginning with Elvin Jones and Miles Davis:
Born in Brooklyn, NY in 1946, Liebman grew up playing a variety of instruments and studying jazz with the likes of Lennie Tristano, Joe Allard, and Charles Lloyd. Just after graduating from NYU with a degree in American history, he helped to found Free Life Communication, a jazz musician’s co-operative. He also joined Ten Wheel Drive in 1970, one of the early jazz fusion/rock groups. After about two years with them, he moved to the saxophone/flute position in the group of legendary Coltrane drummer, Elvin Jones. In 1973, his apprenticeship reached its zenith when Miles Davis invited him to join his group.
Liebman’s Musical Groups:
His head constantly abubble with new ideas, Lieb has headed a number of groups, playing in a variety of styles. His first group, which he formed with Bob Moses in 1970, was called Open Sky Trio. In 1973, together with pianist Richard Beirach, he formed Lookout Farm, which toured the world, made several records, and garnered first place in Down Beat’s 1976 International Critic’s Poll in the category, Group Most Deserving of Wider Recognition. In 1981, together with Beirach, George Mraz, and Al Foster, he formed a group called Quest. Quest reached its peak between 1984 and 1991, after the addition of bassist Ron McClure and drummer Billy Hart.
When speaking of Dave Liebman it is impossible to overlook his faithful companion and the instrument of his passion — the soprano sax. Though he began his career playing all manner of horns, he decided at the end of the 70’s to dedicate himself exclusively to the soprano sax. Appreciative critics and fans have consistently listed him among the top five soprano saxophonists in the world. A number of European orchestras and chamber ensembles, with whom he has played and recorded, have commissioned works especially designed to capture unique brand of playing.
Educator and Clinician:
Lieb’s total commitment to jazz is manifest in the creation in 1989 of the International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE), an organization with members in 40 different countries dedicated to connecting jazz teachers to students. His own erudition and talents as a teacher have made him much in demand at workshops and clinics around the world. On a regular basis, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), which has honored him with grants for composition and performance, awards grants to musicians who wish to study with him.
Recordings with Arkadia Records:
And yet, even with all his organizational and pedagogical efforts, Lieb’s first love remains the music itself. He had recorded dozens of albums under his own name and was a featured sideman on nearly 200 others. Signaling his intention to focus his music making energies, he signed an exclusive recording agreement with New York’s Arkadia Jazz, recording four highly acclaimed albums, and appearing on several others. Together with the acclaimed David Liebman Group, he has recorded the album “New Vista”, which came out in early 1997. Other albums that Liebman has recorded for Arkadia Records are a recording of John Coltrane’s ethereal masterpiece, “Meditation Suite”, a joint project with guitarist Pat Metheny entitled “The Elements: Water” and “Dave Liebman Plays Puccini: A Walk in the Clouds”. Liebman received a Grammy Award Nomination for his performance of “My Favorite Things” on the album, “Arkadia Jazz All-Stars: Thank You, John (Our Tribute to John Coltrane)”.
In 2011, Dave Liebman was honored as a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Jazz Master. One of the jazz world’s most innovative and dedicated citizens, Liebman does not have to wrestle with the temptation to rest on his laurels—the thought has never occurred to him.