Dave Liebman has an intense musical curiosity, prompting him to plan for many future projects simultaneously in the midst of teaching, touring and composing, the only restraint being able to find the funding and time. Liebman has never been an easy artist to categorize stylistically because of his wide range of interests and willingness to collaborate with others in a diverse array of settings.
Liebman breaks new ground here by choosing Sidney Bechet as his subject. This session finds the soprano saxophonist putting his stamp on the legend's compositions in duets with guitarist John Stowell, revealing their lyricism, The early New Orleans master wrote a number of songs with memorable melodies, which have stood the test of time and easily can fit into the repertoire of musicians who don't usually focus on traditional jazz.
One of Bechet's biggest hits was his interpretation of the standard "Summertime", but the duo revamps it with a mystical introduction by Liebman on wood flute before he switches to soprano for the body of the performance; inventive guitar, backed by an overdubbed guitar playing harmony, gives this chestnut a modern touch. The most memorable tracks are the performances of the title track, Bechet's best known work, heard in three separate arrangements: first as an intimate duet where Liebman's soft approach with judicious use of vibrato at the end of phrases works magically with spacious guitar; Stowell opting for nylon-string guitar in his solo rendition, a virtuoso yet understated performance; and Liebman throwing a curve by playing his unaccompanied version on piano, bringing the piece into the 21st century with his dramatic approach, which includes dissonance, altered
chords and an unresolved ending.