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David Liebman/Don Braden/Dan Moretti: Latin Genesis

The inspiration for this septet session sans piano or guitar was Elvin Jones’ Genesis, recorded in 1971 with saxophonists Dave Liebman, Joe Farrell and Frank Foster. With four tunes from that album, plus six more tunes and a Latin-jazz rhythm section, Liebman produced Latin Genesis with assistance from Dan Moretti, who transcribed the original Genesis arrangements. This is a tenor and soprano saxophone player’s feast.

The liner notes offer no play-by-play of the saxophone solos, but listeners should be able to identify Liebman’s throaty sound and writhing, freer lines. I think Braden lies on the conservative sonic side of Liebman, with Moretti somewhere in the middle. The saxophonists’ styles complement each other, and the delight lies not only in inspired, expressive solo blowing but also in the arrangements.

Electric bassist Oscar Stagnaro, drummer Mark Walker and percussionists Pernell Saturnino and Jorge Najaro also provide many bright moments. Their groove, whether composed of funk, Brazilian, Afro-Cuban or other earthy beats, emits soul and energy. Stagnaro keeps the performances on harmonic course with a sound and riffs that cut through the ensemble.

For all the scorching blowing on tunes such as Lee Morgan’s “Calling Miss Khadija,” Braden’s “Vail Jumpers” and Elvin Jones’ “Three Card Molly,” there are also tender interpretations here, on the mournful, soprano-led “PP Phoenix” (a tune by Gene Perla, the bassist on Genesis) and Moretti’s beautiful, flute-led “Tiara.”

Latin Genesis has the openness and excitement of a jam session with the focus and scope that comes from good writing.

Originally Published