Lydia is in her early 20s as I write these notes, meaning it is impossible to know where she will end up in this journey of life. We shared music throughout her growing years at home, both on stage and at home. Caris and I never pushed music with our daughter though she took lessons and participated in the normal school events. My idea behind this recording was to have a memento of those times we shared through music in her youth. The fact that all of us enjoy the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim so much made it a natural to record his tunes.
New Dave Liebman CD is a special family affair
Album is his daughter's singing debut
Review by Milton D. Carrero, of the Lehigh Valley Morning Call newspaper
7:19 p.m. EST, January 12, 2013
Dave Liebman was used to hearing his daughter wake up to an alarm clock set to the pop tunes of the day. Artists such as Eminem featured in Lydia's morning mix, which the Stroudsburg-based star jazz saxophonist heard with skeptism. But one morning, the notes sounded familiar.
"Out of nowhere," he says, "she was listening to 'A Love Supreme,'" John Coltrane's masterpiece. "You just never know what they're thinking. You may think you know."
Lydia, a teenager at the time, had gone through her father's collection and picked out a box set of her father's hero.
She kept it secret for some time. She would not let herself show that she liked the same things as her parents. But she had it in her blood.
This is evident in "Famílía," an album that features Lydia in her singing debut. The record originally was intended to be a family memento. Think of it as being invited to the Liebmans' house for an evening of family and fun. And in a family where the father is a legendary musician, who has recorded with the likes of Miles Davis and was named a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2011, and a mother who is a studied oboe player with a concentration in composition, fun means music.
In "Familia," music is the space they share through the immortal melodies of Brazilian songwriter Tom Jobim.
"Jobim is the heaviest of all the writers in the popular song," says Dave Liebman, and this, he believes, includes Cole Porter, George Gershwin, John Lennon and Paul McCartney. He adds that Jobim's balance of harmony, melody and lyrics "is the best of anybody I know."
Jobim's music was always heard in the Liebman house. Add to that a family trip to Rio de Janeiro, where Dave shared the stage with Brazilian songwriter, Guinga, and you have the germ for the album.
"There isn't one song by him that I don't love," Lydia writes about Ginga on the CD booklet. She repeats it during a phone call from Boston, where the 21-year-old runs a jazz radio show and promotes musicians and events. The album includes two of Ginga's compositions. It is worth your money, if only to discover Ginga's work, Lydia says.
But the album's purpose, says Dave, is to be a reminder of the good times the family shared with music. "Something she would remember when I'm gone," he says.
One of the stars of this album is Lydia's mother Caris Visentin, who adds a clear imprint to the project. She takes control of the melody on oboe, freeing up her husband to express himself through the piano in some tunes.
"I think when we are playing music together," says Caris Visentin Liebman, "it brings out the strengths in all of us."
Caris plays on only three tracks: Guinga's "Senhorinha" and Jobim's "Por Toda A Minha Vida." Her solo at the beginning of Jobim's tune "Luiza" can make you cry in beautiful ways.
Caris will perform with the group at Miller Symphony Hall Jan. 18. Also at the gig will be guitarist Vic Juris and bassist Tony Marino, who tour regularly with the saxophonist as members of the Dave Liebman Group and play on the CD (also on the CD are Marko Marcinko and Phil Markowitz). Drummer Willie Rosario, Lydia's boyfriend, will add to the family gathering.
Lydia, who her father says was "never amazingly serious" about music, meets the grade. Her voice dances with the harmony and the cadence of the Dave Liebman Group, whose members are like family to her.
She is unassuming about what it means to sing with the best in the genre.
"If I didn't laugh," Lydia says, "I would probably cry or something." It's hard to escape the pressure when you are the daughter of an accomplished musician but she approaches it in a "let's-just-have-fun-kind-of-way."
"I often do freak out," she says. "You just try to be cool."
That is probably wise, considering that jazz is a genre in which respect comes with years of experience. Dave says he doesn't welcome new musicians in the tribe until they have been at it for about 10 years. Talent is not all that counts in this genre, although it's paramount.
You have to make it work financially, and get used to traveling for 20 hours to experience two on stage. The audiences are not as large as with other styles and the money doesn't always match the level of sacrifice and expertise required. But if you can withstand the pressure you earn your ranks among fellow musicians, Dave explains.
This doesn't mean that he is not paying attention to new talent. He acknowledges that the best indications of someone's personality is often found in their early records.
On "Familia," Lydia comes across as a daring singer, unafraid to tackle complicated melodies and knotty pronunciations in Portuguese. Her voice intonation is playful and yet ambitious in its emotional reach.
There is a reason producer Richard Burton fell in love with the album as soon as he heard it. He did his part to release it to more people through his label Vectordisc.
Don't expect to hear Dave take his usual avant-garde role on this one, although the edge is still there. At 66, the Brooklyn native has found more subtle ways of reaching that state of flow where music can change you.
"You're transformed," he says. "Especially jazz musicians are transformed by the music into another aspect of their personality. Maybe into something else. It's like a person takes off from the planet and then comes back."
Dave has played with such intensity throughout his career. He earned the 2011 Jazz Masters lifetime achievement award from the National Endowment for the Arts, a recognition he shares with people like Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis, Lionel Hampton and George Benson. A lifelong teacher of the technical intricacies of jazz and founder of the International Association of Schools of Jazz, he just received the Jazz Educators Network Legends of Jazz Education Award for 2013.
Over the years, he has delivered timeless renditions of the work of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Cole Porter, Thelonius Monk and Jobim. His approach to the tunes has never been traditional, manipulating rhythm and harmony with the creativity of a child playing with Play-Doh.
It is more of the family man that emerges through the soprano sax in "Familia." It is a natural follow-up to the album entitled "Neighbors," released last year, which he did with fellow Poconos artist Nancy Reed, who also is Lydia's voice teacher.
The music is quite accessible, although the harmonies are complex, as you can expect from someone who teaches harmony and has made it a goal to deviate from the norm.
"If the music is complicated and sophisticated," Dave says, "obviously, less people will get it than they are going to understand Lady Gaga."
But you don't need to understand it to enjoy it.
"If it's great music," he says, "it's going to be a lesson for life."
Lydia Liebman - Vocals
Dave Liebman - Soprano Sax, Recorder and Piano
Caris Visentin Liebman - Oboe
Phil Markowitz - Piano
Vic Juris - Guitar
Tony Marino - Bass
Marko Marcinko - Drums, Percussion
Recorded, mixed and mastered by Kent Heckman
at Red RockStudios, Saylorsburg, PA
Produced by Dave Liebman and Richard Burton