Back on the Corner
Saxophonist Dave Liebman started his 18-month tenure with Miles Davis in 1972 by recording tracks for On the Corner, the trumpeter’s nod to funk artists James Brown and Sly & the Family Stone. On Back on the Corner, Liebman revisits the spirit of that oft-debated recording without rehashing it track by track, and gets ample support from guitarist (and fellow Miles alum) Mike Stern and bassist Anthony Jackson.
The guest stars’ contributions are matched by Liebman’s 15-year-old working band of guitarist Vic Juris, bassist Tony Marino and drummer Marko Marcinko. They propel Stern’s epic solo on an energized “Black Satin,” the lone track from On the Corner. The other Davis composition, the strutting “Ife,” features Liebman’s soprano darting around Juris’ chiming chords and Marino’s Chapman stick.
All other compositions are by Liebman, and they cover several different musical corners. “5th Street” opens the CD with surprising tranquility, a stark contrast to the 20-minute “On the Corner” medley that led off the album that inspired this one. Marcinko’s drum solo segues into “New Mambo,” an odd-timed showcase for the interplay between Stern’s guitar and Liebman’s tenor. Juris’ acoustic guitar interlude leads into the moody “Mesa D’Espana,” which features Liebman on soprano and wooden flute. Only the closing “J.B. Meets Sly/5th Street Reprise” recalls the hyperactive funk of On the Corner. Lesser artists might have tried to predictably recreate that disc verbatim, but Liebman proves that he learned a valuable lesson during those 18 months: Doing the expected was never Miles’ style, either.