NEA Jazz Master Dave Liebman has always declared that if he had to name one primary influence and inspiration, it would be John Coltrane. The first time he saw Coltrane at Birdland in February 1962, he was 15 years old. As he recounts in his autobiography, What It Is (as told to yours truly), that was the night he saw the light, though he didn’t realize it for years. “Once you see the light,” he explains, “you can never turn away from it, though you may try. I went to see Coltrane from then on, anytime I could.”
This new tribute is special in many ways: it’s by his working band Expansions, not a group of players brought together just to make an album. All of the pieces are newly arranged and rethought—mostly by Liebman, but also by members of the band. It also marks Dave’s return to an album entirely on soprano saxophone--the instrument with which he is most associated.
It’s beyond evident, as well, that Dave has a unique and recognizable style, a strong musical personality that is in no way an imitation of Trane’s. Liebman is an NEA Jazz Master for good reason— his fluency, clarity and originality on soprano are mind-boggling.
Selflessness will be released on September 3 to coincide with Dave Liebman’s 75th birthday the following day.