Dave Liebman played sax on Miles Davis’s “On the Corner”, “Big Fun”, “Dark Magus”, and “Get Up With It”, my favorite Miles stuff. The guy is amazing. He’s been here twice at the Jazz Fest. We saw both shows at Montage last year and we bought his DVD. Last night he played at the Bop Shop in what was billed as a “classic organ trio setting”. Paul Smoker, Bill Dobbins and all the local jazz celebrities were out.
Phil Haynes, who we have heard a few times with Paul Smoker, played drums and Steve Adams played a Hammond B3. They played all standards and opened with “The Night Has A Thousand Eyes”. Dave was playing a wooden flute, The organ player held on extremely long fuzzy note and the drums sounded beautiful. Phil Haynes plays with his bare hands, he scratches the top surface of his cymbals with the butt end of his sticks and looks like he is conducting the music with his facial expressions and whole body. He plays “Ayotte” drums with wooden rims and they are the best sounding drums I have ever heard. They sounded especially nice in this bass player less setting.
Dave played one song that Doris Day had popularized and when someone snickered as he introduced it Dave said, “Don’t undercut Doris. She was right there with Sly back in the day.” we weren’t sure if we heard him right so after the show Peggi and I asked him after the show if said’ “Sly”. He said, Oh yeah. She was right there, hanging with Sly, doing LSD, the whole trip.
The Dave Liebman Quartet was last here for the 2003 version of the Rochester International Jazz Festival. He tore it up then so we prepared ourselves for takeoff last night. We grabbed a table down front at Montage and sat with Rick and Monica. We ordered a Brooklyn Lager (one of the sponsors of the show) and the waitress asked for the cash up front. She explained that she had to buy the beer from the bartender. This club is on its last legs and I suspect they are already out of business. They still had the “STEEL” sign up on the wall from the days when they went metal and the barricade to keep the meatheads from diving on the stage.
The set was exhilarating. Dave is in complete command and he gets there every time. The group has been together for years and they play like a real band. They listen to and work with each other like pros. They did a tune from their new cd that was the slinkiest, low down, film noir track I have ever heard. Dave started it with a little wooden flute and he switched to soprano sax while the bass player strolled through some dark, swinging neighborhoods.
At the end of his set he told he crowd, “OK. You go see the rest of the bands. And you tell me.” Martin Edic had just chided us for darting around. He said, “You can’t just pop in for one or two songs and decide whether you like someone or not”. So we looked at each other and decided to just stay right here for the second set. It was equally good if that is possible. Dave did a song dedicated to an African pop singer who he heard everywhere while traveling to the Sahara for his sixtieth birthday. He played percussion in the intro and then some wildly exotic tenor. You rule Dave!