Correspondence: Dave Liebman in Moscow

Svetlana-Ilicheva X80Rifftides reader Svetlana Ilyicheva (pictured) now and then sends reports about concerts she attends in Moscow—Russia, not Idaho. Here is her account of a recent performance by visiting American musicians.

A few days ago (April 3) I was at the concert given by the Dave Liebman Quartet at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall. It was organized with the aid of the US embassy. That vast hall is filled to the brim only on rare occasions, but there were quite a lot of people. I believe that goes to show that American jazz is quite popular here. The group produced a very pleasant impression on the public and was accepted warmly.

Liebman Quartet Moscow

I liked the manner in which Vic Juris plays the guitar; classic, noble and delicate, not “pushing” but very clear. The drummer Marco Marcinko happened learned to play drums from Joe Morello, which won my favour immediately. An emotional solo by the bassist Tony Marino gained him a very hearty applause.

As to Dave Liebman himself, the sound of his saxes (soprano and tenor), pleasant to the ear, seemed to meLiebman Gesture distinctive and characteristic only of him. I enjoyed his solos and a very attractive specific gesture he made when the other members of the group played or performed solos to his satisfaction (see the black and white photo).

Quite interesting original pieces alternated with jazz classics. Most of all, I liked their performance of “Star Dust” with a long a capella introduction by Vic Juris (this piece of music is “an oldie but goodie”) and, especially, “Lonely Woman.” I at once recollected the unforgettable Modern Jazz Quartet performance of this piece. The Liebman group appeared to be perfectly coordinated, the members playing high quality music individually and collectively.

Vladimir Feiertag of St. Petersburg, a renowned expert on jazz, emceed the concert. Pavel Korbut was taking photos. With his permission, we see a couple of them here.

—Svetlana Ilyicheva

A few years ago Liebman, pianist Richie Beirach, bassist Ron McClure and drummer Billy Hart revived their Questgroup Quest, which thrived in the 1980s. In a new CD, Circular Dreaming, they concentrate on pieces played by the Wayne Shorter-Herbie Hancock-Ron Carter-Tony Williams edition of the Miles Davis Quintet, plus new compositions by Liebman and Beirach. —DR

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  1. says

    Thanks for this ‘live’ review, Svetlana. Great to see that Master Dave Liebman is still kicking. He was one of my teachers in the late 1980’s, early 1990’s. An inspiration, musically and humanly. A great man to talk to, one of the rare universally educated musicians who doesn’t know any artistic limitations, or boundaries. I guess there is no limit for him at all. The two words’ true meaning I have learned from him: Communication & Freedom.

    There he stood and talked about the function of the rhythm section, and then, a sudden outburst: “Communication!”

    I will never forget this exciting moment, because it cleaned my mind. When I entered one of the classrooms, there he sat alone at the piano, studying a Cole Porter songbook. I had a problem with one of my compositions, and asked him to look it over. He played it, and then he gave me only a little hint which made those two bars of my blues sounding like Dave’s music, but without changing the atmosphere of the piece, a blues in A-flat which reflected a mood à la Mingus. Dave’s little tip worked out brilliantly.

    I hope to meet him again one day, and I wish him all the best.

    P.S. — I guess it’s the best proof for Dave Liebman’s mastership. He’s found his own great way to play “My Favorite Things”, namely in straight 4/4 time:

    Video via Bret Primack and YouTube
  2. al kaye says

    liebman was fantastic on soprano recently at the manhattan school of music performing miles ahead with the students.