May 4, 1999
THE ELEMENT: WATER,
David Liebman (Arkadia Jazz) 1999.
Catalog No. 71043
Jazz is like water; it's all around us and it would suck if we didn't have it. David Liebman decided to combine the two into a thematic album called WATER. The album "explores through music the various faces and facets of water, giver of life and refresher of souls." With musicians Pat Metheny, Cecil McBee and Billy Hart, the album is not only multifaceted but also refreshing.
Liebman plays with an elemental style that balances well with Metheny's guitar and McBee's torrid bass. Billy Hart uses a molten approach to his drumming for a pleasant plunge into the water. The arrangements are loose and allowed to flow freely. Liebman is an accomplished saxman with a fervent style that Metheny ripples with his blend of acoustic and electric guitars. "White Caps" is an exploration of a roiling sea, while "Heaven's Gift" is a jubilant celebration of falling water.
Diversity continues throughout the album with tracks like "Bass Interlude," reminiscent of the streams that gurgle after a rainstorm. Liebman's wood flute and Metheny's 48-string Pikasso guitar lend "Reflecting pool" the contemplative energy it needs.
The album continues its discovery of the water theme with a "Guitar Interlude" and "Ebb and Flow." Liebman builds a capable, deeply meditative album that rewards the dedicated listener. The tracks work fine individually, but the thematic concept isn't as obvious or as tight. This album is perfect for the occasional listen, but too many casual trips may dry the well. Taken as an infusion now and again, the album constantly rewards the listener with impressive compositions and wonderful craftsmanship by both Liebman and Metheny. WATER runs true and deep.
-- Jason Ladner