John Stowell and Dave Liebman

Blue Rose


MUSIC REVIEW BY Chris Lunn, Ancient Victorys


Stowell, for the mid-late 70s jazz shows at the Tracks in Auburn, is on a roll of CD releases. We reviewed another duet in the Fall 2013 issue with Throop, and in April he tours the Northwest with our Kendra Shank to support a duet CD they are completing. Here, he teams with Dave Liebman on soprano, tenor, piano, and wood flute. They did a trio thing in Banff Jazz Workshop with Don Thompson, and that is captured and also available on Origin under The Banff Sessions. Stowell produced this and states, "I feel like we had some nice, in the moment conversation." That is Stowell, a commensurate musician who has amazing conversations, not as casual as that ma sound, but deep, underlying to the core and heart conversations that come from outstanding musicianship. Blue Rose has the soprano of Liebman leading Stowell, who uses a bit of ringing sound in his warm, round tone. Just look on this as a very friendly duet. The sax notes dart with the guitar jabbing and running. In "Fi Fi Fo Fum," the tenor swings light yet biting or nipping in the conversation. The guitar swing sand keeps it all moving but with virtually no chording. Amazing guitar as he hints at the rhythm. Stowell and Liebman both work in note clusters, particularly Stowell, while keeping the rhythmic pulse. The sax hums as Stowell solos in a loving fashion. This has a unique warm flow. Strayhorn's "Isfahan" begins with Stowell taking the horn line in single note ballad opening, almost classical in feel and then edging the avant. This is a single-note guitar extravaganza. Then the tenor accents the sound with a ballad mood that has very sweet, lovely sounds. "Everything I Love" has upbeat tenor work with a swing mood, as Stowell with bright chord references and single notes keeps the swing moving. Fast escalating work without a lot of noise and guitar solo really draws you in. Evans' "Time Remembered" has chording piano but Liebman with some high note work as the guitar comes in over also with chording. Superb development of the melody line. Stowell has singing, romantic guitar with strong piano and some slightly dissonant holds. Jobim's "Until Paisagem" has a lot over warm Latin guitar chords, probably the most chord work anywhere by Stowell on this CD. The alto is light, dancing, clear, and ringing. This is pleasant and challenges the listener. Stowell solos, still keeping a lot of chord references; they end on almost squeaking sax notes to Stowell's rhythm. "Molten Glass" is one of my favorites, with the tenor relaxed. They have lots of nice lead trades, and again the sax hums behind the guitar solo. The conversational aspect of these two shines here. The liquid, molten glass flows through. The speed of playing picks up, and they wander out. "My Ideal" has a tenor solo opening, exploring totally for a third of the tune, and then the guitar comes in, and the song moves to a slow, walking approach, deliberate and very grounded. Stowell walks and explores as the tenor hums a bit behind. "Everybody's Song But My Own" skips along with a brisk guitar. The sax is lyrical, exploring, and never standard. Stowell dances underneath then solos, keeping the beat with intricate lines. Again, the sax talks far in the background. Stowell is quietly on fire in the solo, then they have a nice lyrical swing and flutter out. "Black Eyes" has a low-end guitar chord figure with a bit bluish feel and odd note progressions. Liebman comes in playing wood flute with a slight echo set up, a bit Native American in parts. This guitar is a bit unusual for Stowell, and it is a delight. Partway through, they develop a Latin beat, and Liebman is on saxophone with a lyrical swing. There is a solid use of low strings by Stowell. The sax works behind, then back in front, then they return to the wood flute motif. "How Deep Is The Ocean" has the guitar and Liebman's piano in a jazz swing with a lot of cross talk between them. The higher piano contrasts nicely with the round swinging guitar moods. This is an upbeat conversation. Both artists bring a lot of new insights to this collection of standards, and we gain a new perspective while getting joyful jazz conversations.





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