Dave Liebman


David Liebman was born in Brooklyn, New York on September 4, 1946. He began classical piano lessons at the age of nine and saxophone by twelve. His interest in jazz was sparked by seeing John Coltrane perform live in New York City clubs such as Birdland, the Village Vanguard and the Half Note. Throughout high school and college, Liebman pursued his jazz interest by studying with Joe Allard, Lennie Tristano and Charles Lloyd. Upon graduation from New York University (with a degree in American History), he began to seriously devote himself to the full time pursuit of being a jazz artist.
In the early 1970s, Liebman took the leading role (as President) in organizing several dozen musicians into a cooperative, Free Life Communication which became an integral part of the fertile New York “loft” jazz scene in the early 1970s and was funded by The New York State Council of the Arts and the Space for Innovative Development. After one year spent with Ten Wheel Drive, one of the early jazz fusion groups, Liebman secured the saxophone/flute position with the group of John Coltrane’s drummer, Elvin Jones. Within two years, Liebman reached the zenith of his apprenticeship period when Miles Davis hired him. These years, 1970-74, were filled with tours, recordings and the incredible experience gained by being on the band stand with two masters of jazz. At the same time, Liebman began exploring his own music-first in the Open Sky Trio with Bob Moses and then with pianist Richie Beirach in the group Lookout Farm. This group recorded for the German based ECM label as well as A&M Records while touring the U.S., Canada, India, Japan and Europe. Lookout Farm was awarded the number one position in the category “Group Deserving of Wider Recognition”in the 1976 Downbeat Magazine’s International Critics’ Poll.
In 1977, Liebman did a world tour with pianist Chick Corea followed up the next year by the formation of the David Liebman Quintet with John Scofield, Kenny Kirkland and Terumasa Hino as featured sidemen. After several world tours and recordings by the quintet over three years, he reunited with Richard Beirach. They began performing and recording as a duo, as well as creating the group Quest in 1981. Beginning with bassist George Mraz and drummer Al Foster, the group solidified when Ron McClure and Billy Hart joined in 1984. Through 1991, Quest recorded seven CDs, toured extensively and did many workshops with students worldwide.
Liebman’s present group formed in 1991 includes guitarist Vic Juris, bassist Tony Marino and drummer Marko Marcinko. With these musicians he has pursued an eclectic direction in recording projects that has ranged from jazz standards to Puccini arias, original adaptations from the John Coltrane and Miles Davis repertoires, original compositions in styles ranging from world music to fusion, always maintaining a repertoire that balances the past, present and future.
Over the past several decades, Liebman has often been featured with top European musicians such as Joachim Kuhn, Daniel Humair, Paolo Fresu, Jon Christensen, Bobo Stenson and in the World View Trio with Austrian drummer Wolfgang Reisenger and French bassist Jean-Paul Celea. His reputation in Europe has led to big band and radio orchestra performances, such as with the WDR in Koln, Germany, the Metropole Orchestra of the Netherlands and the new music Klang Forum in Vienna, Austria playing music specially commissioned to feature Liebman’s unique soprano saxophone style. He has consistently placed among the top finalists in the Downbeat Critics’ Poll since 1973 in the Soprano Saxophone category. As of the present, David Liebman has been featured on nearly 300 recordings, of which he has been the leader and/or co-leader on nearly 100. Well over 200 original compositions have been recorded. His artistic output has ranged from straight ahead classic jazz to chamber music; from fusion to avant garde.
Liebman has published material on a variety of subjects;instructional DVDs, published chamber music and as well over the years he has contributed regularly to various periodicals such as the Saxophone Journal and the International Association of Jazz Educators Journal. He is the author of several milestone books: Self Portrait Of A Jazz Artist, A Chromatic Approach To Jazz Harmony And Melody, Developing A Personal Saxophone Sound and numerous others, several of which have been translated into other languages.
His teaching activities at universities and in clinic settings have taken him literally around the world as a result of his varied musical directions and expertise on several instruments, along with an ability to articulate the intricacies of the jazz language, aesthetic and technique. Over the years, he has regularly received grantees to study with him funded by the NEA (U.S.), the Canadian Arts Council, as well as Arts Councils of numerous European countries. In 1989 he founded the International Association of Schools of Jazz (IASJ), an organization dedicated to networking educators and students from international jazz schools through periodic meetings, exchange programs and newsletters. Liebman presently serves as the Artistic Director of the IASJ. Lieb has scored music for the JazzEx Ballet Company in the Netherlands (early 90’s)and Ocean of Light for Katrina and the Tsunami tragedies(2006).
Liebman has received several distinguished awards including two NEA grants for composition and performance; an Honorary Doctorate from the Sibelius Acadamy of Helsinki; Finland; a Grammy nomination for Best Solo Performance in 1998 and Best Arrangement for Big Band in 2005; induction into the International Association of Jazz Educator’s Hall of Fame in 2000; Artist Grant from the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts in 2005; Jazz Journalist Award for Soprano Sax in 2007.
“While others of his 60s generation have fallen off their ambition, Liebman has remained dogged about composition and trying difficult styles…he’s a fighter.”_ — New York Times(Ben Ratliff)



Label: Jazzline
Release date: April 20, 2018

“Fire” is the third album in the series that Dave Liebman devotes to natural elements. The cast of the album is exceptional since the saxophonist brings together around him three musicians involved in the evolution of jazz and become legends, Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland and Kenny Werner. An ardent and warm jazz whose flamboyant fire sparkles and crackles.

Dave Liebman - FIRE

Distant Song

Label: Whaling City Sound
Release date: January 26, 2018

As a featured soloist and ensemble singer, Fred Farell has made a name for himself as a preeminent pro jazz voice. Across five decades and at venues like Avery Fisher Hall, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the Museum of Modern Art, Farell has demonstrated inspired interpretive abilities to go with his sweet pipes. Distant Song, his debut for Whaling City Sound, is a deep experience, thanks in part to composers & loyal accompanists Dave Liebman and Richie Beirach. Farells lyrics require incredible patience and passion on the microphone. Songs unfold gently, religiously, and deftly. Infused in part with gospel messaging, Distant Song is a heartfelt project, produced with happiness and love by a veteran talent clearly confident and at peace with himself and his abilities.

Dave Liebman - Distant Song

Media Luz

Label: La Buissonne
Distribution in France: harmonia mundi
Release date: November 18, 2014

Composer/Saxophone player Dave Liebman has been invited for a collaboration by the French composer and pianist Jean-Marie Machado, for the third time on record : the resulting “Media Luz”, a subtle and original work, will be on release on November 18 on the French label La Buissonne and will be presented in concert to in Paris on May 5, 2015.

Dave Liebman - Media Luz

Knowing Lee

Label: Out Note
Distribution in France: Harmonia Mundi
Release date: March 17, 2011

Beware, this trio resembles no other. To start with, the format is quite out of the ordinary; two saxophones and a piano. There is indeed nothing these three musicians enjoy more than freedom and risk taking. Lee Konitz, the elder (1927), alto saxophonist (and here equally splendid at the soprano) Dave Liebman (1945) soprano and tenor saxophonist and Richie Beirach (1947) piano. The last two show their respect to Konitz. They composed « Knowing Lee », the title track of the album. Al three share the same values of rigor and spontaneity. Their coming together in a studio in the spring of 2010 can somehow be considered the natural culmination of their artistic career. Richie Beirach, for instance, already accompanied Konitz at the end of the Sixties before joining Liebman – with Eddie Gomez, bass, and Billy Hart, percussion – to form the Quest group, outstanding specialists in collective improvisation. Here they thoroughly enjoy themselves. In one instance the two saxophonists even challenge one another – amiably of course, and without the piano – on the same instrument (the soprano) in « Alone together », one of the highlights of the album. During all of this divine hour, Lee, Dave and Richie lift us to higher planes. (source: Outnote Records)

Dave Liebman - Knowing Lee

Negative Space

Release date: July 01, 2008

Dave Liebman - Negative Space

Further Conversations

Label: True Azul Music
Release date: May 01, 2007

As I say in the beginning of this live performance, this is really guitarist Vic Juris’ recording. He has been with me since 1991 and in that period, it has been amazing to witness his evolution. I have never seen a musician grow at such a rate. Always an accomplished jazz player with all the credentials, Vic has morphed into a one of a kind artist. What you hear on this recording is a guitarist who is called upon to function in every conceivable manner: compose, solo, accompany, create atmosphere and more. As far as Tony Marino, everyone who knows him says the same thing: “How does he do it? Where is this guy from?” I have played more with Tony than almost anyone on the planet and I think I have had to say less than three words of musical directions to him in all our time together. Tony just knows what to do and as a matter of course can play anything. Marko, with an amazing amount of natural talent has matured into a great group player, who orchestrates the excitement level of the band and plays full out all the time. To these three guys, my eternal gratitude for their loyalty and discipline, helping me to sustain my belief in the power of a true group sound.

There was nothing extraordinary about the setting for this performance- not many people, not really a “jazz” environment, late afternoon in the rain playing tunes recorded a few years ago for the most part on “Conversation” (Sunnyside). But for some reason we were really on the case and each of these tunes really hits the mark. Enjoy!



Dave Liebman - Further Conversations



David Liebman’s Liner Notes

Pendulum-my first live recording and of all things at the hallowed Village Vanguard!! I had worked a lot at the club in the 70’s with Elvin Jones and then my first group, “Lookout Farm” which also included Richie Beirach and Frank Tusa. We knew the place and that special vibe where so many of our heroes had burned it up and left the air full of inspiring ideas and feelings.

It was a transition period for me between bands and returning from living in Frisco for a minute. Richie also was in transition, so we thought it would be nice to play with some brothers just straight ahead, stretching out mostly on standards. Who could be better for that kind of repertoire than Al Foster with whom we were playing with at the time, united by our common love and respect for the 60s groups of Miles and Trane. This weekend planted the seeds for the future band “Quest” which would have a long run in the 80’s, first with Al and then Billy Hart, and after George Mraz and Eddie Gomez, bassist Ron McClure in the group. Joining us at the Vanguard was Randy Brecker, my all time favorite trumpeter and one of my oldest friends, going back to my college days at NYU playing in the Bronx with Larry Coryell and Bob Moses.

Although three tracks were released on the Artist’s House label as “Pendulum” (which became a kind of minor classic among musicians), there was plenty left over which is what comprises this collection. Hearing the music nearly thirty years later, I have to really think about who that saxophone player is!! But for sure, Al and Randy are absolutely at the top of their game and show a side of their playing that contemporary listeners may not be aware of. I’m glad this music is available and of course on the right label. It is a peep into our collective development at an early stage.

Special thanks to Kurt Renker and Walter Quintus for their time and care in editing the tapes; as well to original producer John Snyder for his support during this period of our careers. We dedicate this music to the memory of our long time engineer and good friend, who was with us that weekend in 1978, the late great David Baker.

Dave Liebman - Pendulum