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July/August 2004

David Liebman Group
In a Mellow Tone
Zoho

In a Mellow Tone (Zoho) by tenor and soprano saxophonist Dave Liebman features a group consisting of drummer Jamey Haddad, guitarist Vic Juris and bassist Tony Marino. With the exception of a couple of tunes-James Horner's lamentable "My Heart Will Go On" being one-the material was all written by Juris and Liebman. Juris is an exceptional player, a strong bopper with free-ish inclinations; his tune "Romulan Ale" is a highlight. Haddad and Marino form a powerful rhythm section, and Liebman is outstanding. The raw, Coltrane-inspired rowdiness of his youth has, over the years, been tempered by a greater concern with lyric melody. In the process he's become more of a complete player. And there's a grace to his more bop-oriented playing-here in evidence on Lennie Tristano's "Wow"-that puts him in a league with only the very best veteran saxophonists.

In a Mellow Tone is a good one. Liebman seems to be getting more respect now than ever. He deserves it.

Originally published in July/August 2004
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