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Pendulum: Liebman, Brecker, Beirach, Tusa, Foster: Live at the Village Vanguard

By 1978, David Liebman had played with Miles Davis and Elvin Jones, founded the adventurous cooperative Free Life Communications and led a funk band with James Brown alum Pee Wee Ellis. Early that year, he booked a week at the Village Vanguard. The gig reunited him with pianist Richie Beirach, combining their previous flights of freedom in a grounded, straightahead setting. Trumpeter Randy Brecker joined the frontline while bassist Frank Tusa and drummer Al Foster helmed the rhythm section.

The group on the Mosaic Select Pendulum set didn’t last beyond that February week, though Beirach and Liebman would continue to work together closely, in duos and groups like Quest, which included Foster. The three discs recall a transitional time for jazz when musicians had freedom, fusion and tradition to draw on in their playing. Aside from three originals, the group expands on material like “Impressions,” “Footprints” and a few standards (“Night and Day” and “There Is No Greater Love”). The set list was called on the Vanguard stage and most tracks last well beyond a quarter of an hour. The loose nature and the anything-goes mood of the time brought out the best in the group.

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