Soprano, tenor and flutist Dave Liebman has recorded many albums during the past 50 years, ranging from Coltranish explorations and free form interplay to special standards projects. Whether playing unaccompanied solos or with a big band, Liebman can always be relied upon to create inventive improvisations. Still, Petite Fleur is rather unexpected.
While Liebman has been one of the major soprano-saxophonists of the past few decades, it was not inevitable that he would record a tribute album to the first great soprano-saxophonist, Sidney Bechet. However on this set of duets with guitarist John Stowell, although Liebman does not try to copy Bechet's very individual sound, he plays creatively within Bechet's style.
The duo performs nine Bechet compositions and "Summertime"; Bechet had a minor hit with the latter song in 1938. There are three versions of "Petite Fleur" including individual solos by Liebman (who makes a rare appearance on piano) and Stowell, plus such songs as "Premier Bal," a joyfully swinging "What A Dream," "Creole Blues" and the now-famous "Si Tu Vois Ma Mere" which was used throughout the soundtrack of Woody Allen's Midnight In Paris.
Stowell gives Liebman a solid chordal base and takes high-quality swing solos throughout the project. Liebman modifies his approach a great deal to fit the songs and keeps his playing mostly pretty melodic. Petite Fleur, which would make for a great blindfold test, is a surprise and a very effective tribute to the great Bechet. It is recommended and available from www.originarts.com.