David Liebman Ensemble: John Coltrane’s Meditations

One takes on Coltrane: It’s not just a matter of listening, it’s about commitment, contention, the effort to touch what can’t be known. David Liebman, long among the most fervent and effective of Trane’s musical offspring, brings all the right ingredients together in this performance, recorded live in 1995 to mark the 30th anniversary of the original. Meditations was an important point of departure for Coltrane, when his meta-musical pursuits began to carry him far beyond the crowds who had cheered “My Favorite Things.” Liebman’s arrangements are based on transcriptions by oboist Caris Visentin, who contributes one of a number of timbres unavailable to Coltrane’s sextet in 1965; guitarist Vic Juris and keyboardist Phil Markowitz further stretch the palette. The distinguished ensemble also includes Tiger Okoshi on trumpet, and bassists Cecil McBee and Tony Marino, and drummers Billy Hart and Jamey Haddad. The leader’s tenor sax is vibrant throughout, an emotional anchor for the group as it works its inspiring way through this ever “of the moment” piece of history.