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Ed Saindon & David Liebman: Depth of Emotion

Dave Liebman, the “name” musician on both of these collaborative albums, in fact, dominates neither.

On Depth of Emotion the peripatetic saxophonist shares leadership with Ed Saindon, a skillful vibraphone, marimba and piano player who teaches at the Berklee College of Music. Saindon is also an adept, if understated, composer; apart from the standards “On Green Dolphin Street” and “Moon River,” he’s responsible for the bulk of the writing including his featured “Piano Solo Reflections,” five compact vignettes that conclude the album.

Confining himself almost exclusively to soprano saxophone, Liebman displays his dependable ability to assert an individual voice no matter the context. The project’s generally low-key vibe may not always bring out the dragon slayer in him, but even a relatively contained Liebman can offer up crisp, affecting work. For sax heroics turn to his bold solo on the retooled “Moon River.”

Day and Night has considerably more bite to it. Here Liebman’s teammate is Mike Murley, who also plays both soprano and tenor saxophones. A live recording from 2003, the album features both players in assertive moods-if not out for blood, at least obviously inspired by each other and the responsive rhythm team of bassist Jim Vivian and drummer Ian Froman. (Pianist Jeff Johnson joins the unit for an extended performance of Coltrane’s “India.”)

Unsurprisingly Coltrane’s influence hovers over the entire project, both saxophonists sharing the master’s fierce approach to modal improvisation (“That’s What You Want,” “India”) and bebop romps (the title track, a clever twist on the chords of Cole Porter’s “Night and Day”), as well as Coltrane’s lyrical poise as heard on their dual tenor examination of “Gnid,” the rarely played tune by Tadd Dameron, included on the 1956 Dameron/John Coltrane recording Mating Call. That Murley keeps up (and then some) with his more notable partner bodes well for this still under-the-radar improviser.

Originally Published