TONY BIANCO drum set
DAVE LIEBMAN soprano & tenor saxes, wooden flute, piano
TONY MARINO double bass
(They also play chimes & bells on track 6)
1 - LINE ISH: PART ONE - 14:33
2 - BASS INTERLUDE - 4:02
3 - LINE ISH: PART TWO - 13:33
4 - SAX INTERLUDE - 2:13
5 - LINE ISH: PART THREE - 8:42
6 - GROUP INTERLUDE - 4:45
7 - CYMBAL INTERLUDE - 1:48
8 - LINE ISH: PART FOUR - 11:13
Digital studio recordings made in Saylorsburg, PA, USA
by Kent Heckman - 2003 September
Total time 60:52
All previously unissued
It has been a while since I played or recorded in the United States. Recording LINE ISH there was great fun. Of course I was playing with one of the icons of the saxophone and his long time bass-playing associate, Tony Marino. How could there be a problem? This was one of the easiest recordings I ever did. The time must have been right for such a playing experience.
The concept and lines were written by Dave. There wasn't much talking - we just went ahead and recorded. The trio immediately had a cohesion and response. We knew we were going to have a good hit. I think these circumstances occur when the musicians have a similar spiritual vision.
Of course Dave has a long and profound history in jazz. He has a lot of information in him. So after knowing him for years we finally got a recording together. I'm real glad about this.
I feel LINE ISH is a suite evoking some kind of native intelligence. The seriousness of this music comes from the intensity of the spirit which words can't express. This trio takes this intensity and brings it from the past to the future.
I talked to Lieb, during the session, about a band he had called 'Lookout Farm'. I said I really enjoyed hearing that band. I used to hear them at the Village Vanguard back then. I said I loved the primitive thing. Dave said to me when he hears recordings of that band he thinks to himself, who is that guy playing the saxophone? (He thinks he changed so much since then.) I'd like to think maybe I brought that guy back.
TONY BIANCO (2004)
This was recorded in one afternoon based on several lines I brought in. This is a completely free improvisational approach with long solos by each of the members. Both Tony’s really provide a great foundation for playing in this manner.
DAVE LIEBMAN (2004)
"LINE ISH sees Tony Bianco back in the USA for a powerful recording session with Dave Liebman and his trusty bassist of over 15 years, Tony Marino. A suite of alternating written-down themes, solos and improvised group variations, LINE ISH draws on the heart and soul of the free jazz idiom: the energy, the emotion, the willingness to explore, and the swing. Liebman is credited for most of the writing - limited to a few heads and the simple macrostructure of the piece. Besides his tenor and soprano saxes, he also plays wooden flute in the Group Interlude and he sits down at the piano for the whole duration of Line Ish: Part Two. The melodic material frames the improvisations and gives the piece and movement of ebb and flow. Each musician gets his share of the spotlight and the whole proceedings are extremely amicable, maybe even too polite. But Bianco nails down his typical octopusian playing, Liebman throws in some of his most vehement tenor lines of later years, and Marino's Bass Interlude seems to arch back to Henry Grimes' heyday with Albert Ayler. A good, honest session."
FRANÇOIS COUTURE - ALL-MUSIC GUIDE 2004
"Liebman echoes his Lookout Farm days on LINE ISH, joining drummer Tony Bianco and Tony Marino on a dazzling free jazz suite. In addition to playing soprano, tenor, and wooden flute, he is also heard at the piano. The disc is a suite with various interludes set within. The opening cut, Line Ish, Part One, opens with a moody duet between Liebman and Marino. Blowing with the kind of passion Coltrane used to summon, while Bianco thrashes beneath the moodiness and Marino adds dark arco backdrop, Liebman blows fiercely on the straight free jazz burnout. Marino's arco solo is brooding and dramatic; he spirals up to the higher notes, then falls like Icarus into the waiting arms of Liebman's high-pitched wail marking the transition into the next movement.
The interlocking movements and interludes are solo and group efforts. Marino's Middle Eastern theme-spiced interlude is a fierce plucked effort, rich in melody and dexterity. His solo segues directly into the next collective movement announced by Bianco's cymbal flourishes (his drumming is a guiding hand, firm but never ostentatious); Liebman, heard at the piano, mines the instrument's depths by strumming the strings from the inside as the space eventually narrows while the tempo increases and the interplay races toward chaos. Liebman's solo interlude features him hitting astonishingly bird-like high pitches, screaming yet whispering. Part Three is a furious cauldron of soprano, plucked bass and drums (Bianco laying down Elvin Jones-like polyrhythms). The following Group Interlude features Liebman on flute with a fierce drum solo by Bianco leading into the final movement of the suite. Liebman falls in on tenor, followed by Marino on plucked bass, and then all come together for the final whirlwind. LINE ISH is a tour de force, expertly conceived and brilliantly performed, an outstanding display of the spirit and empathy that exists between the players."
TERRELL HOLMES - ALL ABOUT JAZZ NEW YORK 2004
"Saxophonist Dave Liebman puts on his free jazz hat for this powerful trio release. Drummer Tony Bianco is a relentless whirlwind while Tony Marino provides the axis for an intense session that intimates notions of how free form art is capable of making perfect sense."
GLENN ASTARITA - ALL ABOUT JAZZ 2004
"Saxophonist Dave Liebman's reputation has often rested on his deliberation for carrying the torch laid down by John Coltrane. Expressionistic, with an informed world view, he is as comfortable in a melodic and relaxed setting, as he is in a more free context, beautifully documented on this collaboration with drummer Tony Bianco and long-time bassist Tony Marino. LINE ISH finds the trio exploring freedom that has few reference points, but nevertheless comes across as focused and not the least bit self-indulgent.
That there is a chemistry amongst the players is clear. That each player is confident enough to, in turn, support and take the lead is also evident. And that everyone has a clear sense of history, of precedence, to give the recording a lineage even while it asserts a personality of its own is also apparent.
The album consists of four pieces that, while largely freely-improvised, are based around ideas, sketches by Liebman. In between these four extended tracks are solos by each player, and a group improvisation, Group Interlude, that finds Liebman on wooden flute, Marino and Bianco on chimes and bells, with shades of Don Cherry.
The group pieces display a variety of textures, rhythmic values and ambiences. Line Ish: Part One finds the group exploring and expanding on the territory set forth by Coltrane in his later years. Liebman is his usual outgoing self, creating sheets of sound that ebb and flow with the rest of the rhythm section. Line Ish: Part Two has Liebman playing piano, an instrument on which he is rarely heard. On this piece, Liebman demonstrates a rich sense of abstraction that ranges from spacious to intense, with hints of Cecil Taylor's more aggressive stance. Line Ish: Part Three and Line Ish: Part Four are equally varied, with the composer providing bare sketches, simple roadmaps to establish the general direction, then letting things loose to see where they might go.
The session is notable for the emergence of Marino as a strong free player. More closely associated with Latin jazz on his own projects and the far more structured context of Dave Liebman's group, to hear him use extended techniques on Bass Interlude is both surprising and a real joy. It's always a treat to discover an artist, who has traditionally been pigeon-holed by context, to be far more stylistically diverse, and Marino shows a remarkable ability to connect with Bianco and Liebman in this more liberated musical environment.
LINE ISH marks a return to the United States by Bianco. Based on the results of this fine session of free exchange and uninhibited expression, he should go back there more often."
JOHN KELMAN - ALL ABOUT JAZZ 2004
"Dark overtones pervade the music on LINE ISH. The session is a forum for Liebman to soar on high with extended improvisations while Bianco and Marino construct a tense polyrhythmic web around him. The music breathes openly as it progresses in wave after wave of spontaneous discovery. On the initial segment, Bianco builds a quiet fire of intensity that Liebman fans into full blaze with his vibrant tenor escapades. The second part penetrates deeply; it begins with soulful bass lines and flows into a terse piano solo by Liebman where he ponders weighty matter characterized by jagged pensiveness.
The interludes break the action and then transition into the next movement. The first interlude features Marino developing a moody bass solo; his rapid-fire fingering of the strings conjures images of foreboding spirits aching to escape the confines of the instrument. He executes with the fullness and complexity of a guitar player as he makes the strings sing vibrantly in mournful celebration. Liebman's soprano solo on Sax Interlude is a gritty affair. He picks apart a phrase and expands the concepts by seeking the uppermost limits of the instrument. The band beckons forth ancient beings on a trio interlude fortified by Liebman's wooden flute callings. Bianco's interlude solo concentrates exclusively on cymbals and ushers in his more expanded drumming on the final part where Liebman returns to the tenor saxophone. This trio gels cohesively. Liebman's playing is as strong and fiery as ever, and Bianco and Marino contribute exquisite sonic jewels to this consolidated effort of ultra-satisfying quality."
FRANK RUBOLINO - CADENCE 2004
"I've never really followed the music of Liebman, hearing him a bit in the 70's and every now and then since. But here is an excellent, well thought out suite of free improvised music giving ample space to all three artists and some 'out' sounds from Liebman."
PAT FRISCO - JAZZ CORNER TALK 2004
"The music is most definitely jazz-oriented, but Liebman's loosely sketched lines allow for plenty of extemporaneous blowing. Bianco's no stranger to working with Coltrane-influenced saxophonists having teamed with Paul Dunmall and Simon Picard on an earlier Emanem, UTOMA TRIO. He's also at the heart of HOUR GLASS, another session with Dunmall and the switch-hitting basses of Marcio Mattos and Paul Rogers. The music here is in line with those previous projects though Liebman etches a more obvious spiritualized aura into the contours of his horns. There's also room for his piano and even a bit of contemplative wooden flute to make appearances. The overarching metaphysical mood carries over into the colored pencil cover art depicting a gaunt Brahmin deep in meditative thought.
Line Ish dominates the disc's running time and is broken into four parts. The sections are further separated by comparatively terse solo detours for each musician along with a Group Interlude that veers off from the focus of the main piece and into a fuzzy forest of chimes, bells and arco bass and the aforementioned flute. More striking and memorable is the shrill steam whistle soprano piece that marks the median point of the set.
Liebman sounds energized by the dynamic presence of Bianco and his playing at the onset echoes the blazing note-packed approach of his best 70s work. Bianco responds in kind pounding away at his kit and crafting huge shoals of rhythm in tandem with Marino furious pizzicato. The bassist's clarity is compromised slightly by some shadow-inducing amplification, especially during the more agitated arco passages, but considering the thunderous nature of much of the interplay the augmentation proves a necessary evil. On his solo Interlude Marino actually makes the added ballast work to his advantage, coaxing corpulent slabs of sound from his strings that push at the edges of the studio space.
Later sections revert to more ruminative interaction as during Liebman's oblique piano foray on Part Two. Here he moves from a piecemeal investigation of the interior strings into a filibuster of splashing right hand clusters. Bianco's rolling beats accompany and eventually assume control in a snowballing solo that takes the track out. Martial press rolls and tumbling tom tattoos are a regular part of the drummer's trick bag and these propulsive tactics balance out the various detours into more introspective inclinations. This is classic cut-from-the-mold free jazz, born from the common currency of saxophone, piano, bass and drums. From the opening strains to the somewhat depleted-sounding sign off these three fellows abandon any sense of artifice as to it being anything else."
DEREK TAYLOR - BAGATELLEN 2004
"Tony Bianco's mercurial drumming is the propeller of this great trio, where each voice brings common sense and solidity in every single moment. Dave Liebman applies his phrasing like a whirlwind, quivering, self-consciously groundbreaking, exploring theme fragments and pulling out harmonics like a drink of fresh water. The jawboning sound of Marino brings back fluids to parched ears, emerging like a paramount element even in a cohesive setting like this. Bianco's wrists are probably made of highly elastic rubber: his sticks' command is a good explanation for a scorching yet natural playing, more evident than ever during his solo parts. The feeling here is that this is a nugget, a record that's destined to stay, without flashes but with feet planted in the concrete."
MASSIMO RICCI - TOUCHING EXTREMES 2004
"I haven't heard Liebman for a while but it was a real treat to find his searching tenor pitted against Marino's arco bass on the first part of Line Ish. The ecstatic writhing of the horn offset the strings' slow burn, something which continued in a slightly different vein when Marino's grave playing took a front seat with Bianco's percussion working deftly around him. There is a strong sense of three players pulling in the same direction but using different approaches to get there.
Given his own Bass Interlude Marino resorts to pizzicato and strumming rather than the bow and creates a dark swell of sound out of which the second part of Line Ish emerges, this time with Liebman on piano. The dynamics are different here with small washes of cymbal riding against the keyboard's sombre chords. Liebman's piano method may appear slightly more restrained at first but it builds in intensity, showering fragments across the bass and drum interplay. The ferocity turns the instrument into a percussive rather than melodic tool, which may not be anything innovative but it broadens the trio's range of improvisational resources.
Alone on Sax Interlude Liebman alternately takes the soprano into the highest of its registers then drops into its more conventional range, creating a brief dialogue with himself before leading into Line Ish : Part Three, another fiercely energised collaboration that still finds space for bass and drums to engage each other in duet. Liebman's voice, when it returns, shifts between the shrill and intensely melodic stances which opened the piece.
By way of a further dynamic change Group Interlude features various chimes, bells and cymbals alongside wooden flute and more arco bass. I was briefly reminded of a mini Art Ensemble as Liebman's flute skittered off into the ether and the bass held more solid ground. Again, what is most noticeable is the level of intuitive playing that is happening giving the piece shape within its freedom of expression.
I hope, as it has done with me, this will prompt people to seek out Liebman's work again but by itself this is also a chance to hear some exciting and purposeful trio playing."
"Dave Liebman has maintained a rigorous release schedule since the turn of the century, appearing on a handful of releases each year in settings ranging in size from solo to big band. But to hear the saxophonist in the form he realizes on this recording, a trio date with his regular quartet bassist Tony Marino and American expatriate drummer Tony Bianco, you'd be excused for thinking it was a recently discovered session from his Coltrane disciple days with Elvin Jones and Miles Davis' bands. Yes, you'd be hard-pressed to find playing this far outside in Liebman's recent discography (the solo COLORS set on hatOLOGY notwithstanding), which makes LINE ISH even more of a curiosity.
Liebman sounds inspired on tenor and soprano sax throughout-even if he comes off as slightly out of practice at this style of playing-although 13 minutes of him plinking away at and around the same few chords on piano during Line Ish: Part Two is a tad overindulgent. The same goes for Marino, who displays a surprising affinity for Jimmy Garrison-influenced arco drones; it's a rare treat to hear him follow Liebman so far outside the lines.
But drummer Bianco is the true heart of this session, regardless of his acknowledgement of Liebman as the conceptual leader in his liner notes. Though his playing is unashamedly energetic (which is why he matches up so well with saxophonist Paul Dunmall, with whom he regularly collaborates), he makes more sensitive use of his cymbals than most like-minded percussionists-often resulting in a refusal to push the music from behind that keeps him on equal footing with the rest of the band. Anyone interested in hearing him at his most effective should skip directly to Cymbal Interlude and the extended solo introduction to Line Ish: Part Four, where his sense of flow, dexterity, and control are indeed revelatory."
SCOTT HREHA - ONE FINAL NOTE 2004
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