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Gathering of Spirits

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Audio CD, August 24, 2004
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 24, 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Telarc
  • ASIN: B0002M5T4S
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #366,274 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Alexander The Great
2. The 12th Man
3. India
4. Peace On Earth
5. Trycycle
6. A Gathering Of Spirits

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Since 1996, Michael Brecker, Dave Liebman and Joe Lovano, three of the most prolific and innovative saxophonists in jazz, have played together periodically in an experimental trio known as Saxophone Summit. Telarc has captured this threesome's adventurous synergy on their debut recording, Gathering of Spirits.

While a band co-led by three celebrated saxophonists might suggest Kansas City's swing-era cutting contests, this meeting of Michael Brecker, Dave Liebman, and Joe Lovano is something very different. Gathering of Spirits invokes the collective vision and apocalyptic energies of John Coltrane's 1960s meetings with exploratory saxophonists like Eric Dolphy and Pharoah Sanders. The opening "Alexander the Great" finds the three limbering up at a relaxed tempo, while pianist Phil Markowitz's "12th Man" is a gorgeous modal tune that recalls Miles Davis's Kind of Blue. With Coltrane's "India," though, the band's power begins to assert itself, gathering further force in the lyric intensity of "Peace on Earth" (another Coltrane tune) and concluding in the roaring overtones of Brecker's title composition. Propelled by bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Billy Hart, Brecker, Liebman, and Lovano inspire one another to touch on the roots and branches of their individual creativity. --Stuart Broomer

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Jan P. Dennis on September 1, 2004
Format: Audio CD
. . . instead turns out to be a jazz recording of great substance and subtlety.

Face it. These things don't always work. Unless the artists (here Joe Lovano, tenor sax, alto clarinet, tarogato, African blackwood flute; Dave Liebman, tenor sax, soprano sax, Indian flute; and Michael Brecker, tenor sax, Bulgarian wood flute; plus rhythm section Phil Markowitz, piano; Cecil McBee, bass; and Billy Hart, drums) can put aside ego and musical self-aggrandizement, superstar blowing sessions generally come across as mildly interesting but rather indulgent. Not so here. Each of the sax players has deep respect for his fellows, and all are concerned more with creating a vibe of mutuality, congeniality, and largesse than one of a ruthless cutting session. Not that this admirable sense of oneness of purpose lessens or tones down the intensity of soloing and group conversation; rather, it enables each player to situate his musical statements in a context of conviviality and generosity rather than deleterious competition.

And the listener is the winner.

Perhaps surprisingly (although not really, if one has been closely following his career), Dave Liebman comes across as every bit the peer of his two colossal bandmates, Brecker and Lovano. His work on soprano (on the first three numbers), especially marks him as a player to contend with.

In a sense, this can be seen as a Coltrane tribute--although it is much more than that--as the two central pieces ("India" and "Peace on Earth") are compositions by the late master. Both are rendered lovingly but not slavishly, each with its own magical character ("India" restless, probing, sonically sophisticated with its use of esoteric wind instruments; "Peace on Earth" elegiac and magisterial), each carrying, esp.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By S. Lee on August 20, 2005
Format: Audio CD
What an incredible pleasure to hear three saxophonists who play so differently co-exist within the same music... Three of the best tenor saxophonists alive today were able to put down some of their ego and enjoy playing with each other. They could have played it safe and played standards throughout the CD or just mixed it up with some of their own more conventional pieces. But instead they tried to extend beyond some of their comfort zones... In this day and age when record companies are cutting jazz out of their payroll left, right, and center, it is great that Telarc actually let the musicians express themselves.

Don't get caught up in the tunnel-visioned ideas of catagorizing music into what is jazz and what is not jazz. These "traditionalists" will not accept any advances in music beyond bebop. Changs and development in music as in all art is a reflection of the society it grew in. To ignore new developments in music let alone developments from 50 years ago, is to ignore something about the world we live in. Truthfully, it's not as if I can listen to Ornette Coleman in my car. A person cannot put free improvisational music on for "background" music. It takes a little effort on the part of the listener to follow the development of the music. But in the right mood, free improvisation can be the most revelatory!!! The emotional expression, the flowing of ideas, and musical interplay between band members can reach unimagined peaks in free improvisation.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By N. Dorward on September 21, 2005
Format: Audio CD
The three-tenors lineup wasn't too promising-looking--I expected a by-rote blowout. What a surprise then that this turns out to be a thoughtful, well-planned session with some genuinely challenging music. David Liebman seems to be responsible for organizing it--at least, much of the repertoire & arranging bears his mark, & the rhythm section (Phil Markowitz, Cecil McBee, Billy Hart) is players I associate with Liebman. As you'd expect from Liebman, Coltrane's spirit is prominent here--but Liebman is one of the most idiosyncratic of Trane's followers, so the music actually sounds quite fresh, not least because Liebman is attracted to the rubato free balladry of very late Coltrane, & there are some very "outside" moments here--notably the start of the title-track & the long "Tricycle". Great stuff, with the honours shared all round (& that includes the sidemen, who all get solo features on "Tricycle"--Markowitz, the least celebrated player here, sounds especially fine). There are far too many supergroup albums out there that have little inherent musical reason to exist; this album places emphasis on substance rather than flash, & is all the better for it.
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4 of 13 people found the following review helpful By H. A Tervo on September 18, 2005
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Let me go on record as saying that Joe Lovano is one of my favorite sax players. He can swing and negotiate dificult chord changes with the best of them. However, his interests are so diverse and far-reaching that it is always with some anticipation that one does not know what to expect on his next CD. I had an idea what to expect with this CD considering the match up. There is some good tight ensemble playing (intonation is astounding) and a few good solos, most notably the alto clarinet solo taken in "Tricycle" by Lovano. However most of the the CD sounds like so much self-indulgent whining.
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8 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Mark53 on February 19, 2005
Format: Audio CD
I got caught out. I saw the stellar line up, heard the opening track and thought i was in for some real cutting edge jazz with the saxists battling it out and they do. For a couple of tracks and then that dreaded word 'free' comes in. Basically 'free music' means playing whatever you want, all at the same time, no changes, just making an indescriable noise for thirty minutes and laugh all the way to the bank. This makes 'trout mask replica' sound conservative. It's just a noise and i would expect some sort of acknowledgement to the mugs like me that paid out hard earned cash to buy it. The arrogance of the three men bears belief. All superior players what were they thinking of? That it was listenable? Save your money and look else where if you're expecting excitement. They even turn a classic like Coltrane's 'india' into dross. An insult to jazz.
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