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Masters In Paris

by Martial Solal & Dave Liebman

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Florian Arbenz
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Florian Arbenz Wow, what a great live record! The title already says it: this is a meeting of two legends and you can hear the fun they had!

I'm playing with Dave Liebman since quite some time and I love his playing and his great personality. He kept raving about Martial Solal and this record and, I must say, he was right: The Art Tatum-like approach and the 89 year olds reharms are definitively as up-to-date and as hip as they can be!

Check it out! Favorite track: Stella By Starlight.
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24 bit / 44k

The breadth of the stylistic approach of legendary musicians Martial Solal and Dave Liebman is as vast as their collective résumés. Having played the jazz for seven and five decades, respectively, their ease in any musical situation allows their two styles to flow unrestrictedly when they meet.

The great pianist and saxophonist had never played together until 2016, when they came together under the impetus of Liebman’s former student Jean-Charles Richard to perform at the Sunside Jazz Club in Paris, France. Their rapport was so obvious that they were quickly booked for a few more shows. Their new recording, Masters In Paris, was one of these special events, recorded live at Radio France Studio 104 on October 29, 2016.

Solal has been acknowledged as one of France’s most revered jazz musicians. Born in Algiers, Algeria, the pianist made his recording debut with Django Reinhart and has been a prime mover in the evolution of the art in France. Liebman was born in Brooklyn and broke into the jazz world in the early 1970s as a member of Elvin Jones’s and Miles Davis’s incredible bands. Liebman has remained an important fixture in the jazz world as one of the foremost improvisers on tenor and soprano saxophone.

The duo first came together in early 2016 and shared the stage a number of times in France. Their first recording, Masters In Bordeaux (Sunnyside, 2017), was recorded on August 4, 2016 at Château Guiraud in Sauternes.

Their follow-up recording found them in Paris two months later in a concert billed as Jazz sur le Vif produced by Arnaud Merlin with Agathe Le Bail and Vincent Lecocq. The pristine audio was provided by the broadcasters of Radio France.

The recording begins with a galloping rendition of Dizzy Gillespie’s “A Night In Tunisia;” the abstract reading is a fantastic example of the duo’s expressive range. Victor Young and Ned Washington’s “Stella By Starlight” is a showcase for Solal’s whimsically cheeky piano and Liebman’s warm soprano tone, while Solal’s “In and Out” is a patient ballad with some resonant tenor playing. Cole Porter’s “Night and Day” is revisited and dissected and reassembled in a myriad of ways in a long musical conversation. Liebman’s “Small One” is a lovingly played tribute to a child, as expressed tenderly by the duo.

Solal approaches Duke Ellington’s classic “Satin Doll” playfully while Liebman is more teasing. Gershwin’s “Summertime” is rendered as a bright collage and the duo revisits Porter’s “What Is This Thing Called Love,” turning the classic tune into a dizzying musical chase. The program concludes with Solal’s poignant “Coming Yesterday,” an evocative piece with flamboyant runs and rhythmic diversity.

The pairing of Martial Solal and Dave Liebman was a brilliant one. The two come from different generations and continents but meet where convivial musical exploration comes together in exemplary ways on their new Masters In Paris.


released April 24, 2020

Martial Solal - piano
Dave Liebman - tenor & soprano saxophone


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