Dave Liebman Lewis Porter ‘Surreality’ (Enja) 4/5

dave-liebman-lewis-porterFrom his tenure in Miles Davis’ early 1970s fusion through to his debut on ECM, saxophonist Dave Liebman has trod his own distinctive pathway and this latest offering is no exception, straddling post-bop and freer territory with a fine line-up that features Marc Ribot on guitar. In parts this is muscular, dense and uncompromising music and that is just the way devotees of Liebman’s sound will like it. Of the compositions on offer, the reworking of the three standards are the most interesting. From the Ornette Coleman-Pat Metheny collaboration, ‘Trigonometry’ is tackled and this is a fresh sounding interpretation with Liebman on soprano. A fittingly atmospheric take on Coltrane’s ‘Alabama’ features some lovely bass work in the intro with Liebman reverting to tenor while on Albert Ayler’s ‘Omega is the Alpha/Ghosts’, Ribot excels on guitar. Elsewhere the opener ‘Olivier’ is a tribute to French classical composer Olivier Messaien while there is a pared-down duet between piano and soparano on an untitled free form ballad. Freedom within a structure would be one way to describe the album as a whole which is challenging and demanding, but entertaining for all that.

Tim Stenhouse