Spotlight Series: Dave Liebman Expansions

Dave LiebmanTonight Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks audiences will meet one of jazz’s strongest voices—whether he’s shredding original charts on his saxophone or speaking about the importance of jazz education, Dave Liebman is bound to captivate listeners with all that he has to say. To see this jazz legend in action before tonight’s show, scroll down and check out the video below.

For this week’s Spotlight Series post, we are bringing you five pearls of wisdom straight from the mouth of the teacher, composer, National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master and Founder/Artistic Director of the International Association of Schools of Jazz (IASJ), Dave Liebman.

  1. A few of Liebman’s guiding musical principles: “Musically, I have guidelines which are very general, concerning balance between all elements such as loud to soft, written to improvised, fast to slow, etc. The basic principle is tension and release. All music for me should be flexible and loose enough to be able to move back and forth between extremes—never so rigid that the music becomes stiff. One last guideline is a goal I try for every time I play, which is to play as hard as I can—as if there were no tomorrow.” Read more about Liebman’s guiding musical principals.
  1. Liebman’s affinity for Coltrane: As a Brooklyn-native, Liebman’s interest in jazz was sparked listening to John Coltrane perform in NYC clubs, so it comes as no surprise that Liebman is dedicated to celebrating Coltrane’s legacy in his playing and teaching, using the following 10 Coltrane tracks as his guides. Read more about these 10 tracks in Liebman’s Jazz Times article, “Ten Important Trane Trax.”
  1. The keys to everything (musically speaking, that is): “The ability to be able to put down 10 fingers didn’t exist before the piano. You can see what you hear, you can hear what you see, it becomes visual…It is mandatory that you play piano just to understand harmony, and of course secondarily…to compose you need the piano to check everything.” For more insights into Liebman’s views on jazz education, check out his 2013 interview in Jazz Lessons With Giants.
  1. What it takes to be a great jazz improviser: “In general, as part of their MO, their personality, a person that is flexible, loose, open, wanting to communicate, ready to deal with the moment…It’s a big job to take on jazz music…[It takes] discipline, openness, flexibility and a love of learning.” Read more about Liebman’s impressions of the field. 
  1. Learning jazz (or any art form for that matter): Three ‘H’ Club 
  • “The head” – the intellect, the lessons we can learn out of books and from teachers—scales, the chords, the language of music…etc.
  • “The hand” – the execution, becoming a virtuoso on your instrument so you can technically execute what you hear in your head.
  • “The heart” – the frame around the painting or the glue that puts everything else together. As Liebman explains in the video below, “The heart is the passion, it’s the soul it’s the feeling and without it, it’s of no use.”

Come experience the heart, passion and soul this living jazz legend’s new group—Dave Liebman Expansions—tonight at Levitt SteelStacks! And for folks in Bellingham, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Middlesboro, Pasadena, Sheboygan, Trenton or Westport, be sure to check out the other free concerts happening this week at the Levitt!

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