GLIMPSES / OXMAN: Shai. Lenny. Trane’s Pal. Louminus. ELLINGTON-MILLS: In a Sentimental Mood. WALTON: Afreaka. RENÉ: I Sold My Heart to the Junkman. LIEBMAN: Glimpses / Keith Oxman, t-sax; Dave Liebman, s-sax/t-sax; Jeff Jenkins, pno; Ken Walker, bs; Todd Reid, dm / Capri Records 74152
Here’s a good, old-fashioned bop album by tenor saxists Keith Oxman and Dave Liebman, the latter a veteran musician who played with Miles Davis and Elvin Jones. On Ellington’s In a Sentimental Mood, Liebman plays alone with pianist Jeff Jenkins, and later on, Liebman sits out I Lost My Heart to the Junkman. Otherwise, Liebman’s tenor and soprano sax comes out of the left speaker while Oxman’s is panned to the right.
The band is tight and plays extremely well, although I personally found some of pianist Jenkins’ solos flashy but not particularly interesting. Oxman and Liebman complement each other in a similar, but cooler, way that Zoot Sims and Al Cohn did many moons ago. I particularly liked Liebman’s soprano sax playing, slightly breathy and warm rather than the cold brilliance one normally hears from the instrument. It almost sounds like an alto flute: quite beautiful, and as an improviser I found him superb, one of those rare players who improvises on the melody and not just always on the chords.
The two saxists are both superb on Trane’s Pal, a tune that harks back to John Coltrane’s early incarnation as a bop saxist. Oxman doesn’t really try to emulate Trane yet his solo is excellent, beautifully constructed. Cedar Walton’s Afreaka is clearly one of the most complex and modern pieces on the CD, and both Oxman and Liebman respond with some impassioned playing. We return to standard bop with Oxman’s Louminous, although here Liebman really goes outside the changes in a Coltrane-like way. And I was really impressed by Liebman’s superbly-constructed solo on I Sold My Heart to the Junkman.
We end with Liebman’s original, Glimpses, a hard bop piece with plenty of excitement. An excellent romp for those who like small combos of hot soloists!
—© 2018 Lynn René Bayley
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