Five songs from that extraordinary set have been selected to represent that evening on the present album. The occasion for the concert was the publication of Michael Stephans’ book Experiencing Jazz: A Listener's Companion. Dave Liebman and Joe Lovano were contributors to the volume, with Liebmann even contributing the preface, and the two horn players joined with Stephans and Marino and Silvano in celebration of the book's release.
The album opens with Joe Lovano’s Topsy Turvy, a frenetic duet between Lovano and Liebman that is augmented with Judi Silvano’s vocals that becomes almost another horn. Sometimes you have to listen for a few notes to know it is her and not one of the saxes. Marino and Stephans nail down the rhythm section and we are off to the races. The 10+-minute romp is fun and furious. From the start, pay attention to Stephans’ drumming.
Dave Liebman’s Day and Night is a fine showcase for the twin sax giants trading off. Seriously, watching the two of them onstage must have been like watching Thor and Zeus hurling lightning bolts. Again, Milano and Stephans provide solid backing to the horns.
Lovano’s Blackwell’s Message follows that with 18+ minutes of brlliant trades, leads, and vocalizations. Starting with the flutes, the giants move to saxes with Silvano matching them step-for-step. Improvisation at it most fascinating. Listen to everybody on this.
Isham Jones and Marty Symes’ 1936 standard There Is No Greater Love gets a lively and energetic treatment as opposed the slow swing of the original. The tenors are in full force and Stephans is monstrous.
Liebman’s Get Me Back to the Apple concludes the album with constant trades from the tenor saxes and swinging rhythms from Marino and Stephans. The years-long collaboration of Lovano and Liebman is obvious and rewarding.
In a time when we have been denied live music, it is wonderful to hear the creativity, grace, and power of improvisational masters. Dancing On The Edge is a treasure chest of live Jazz, right when we need to hear it most.
~Travis Rogers, Jr. is The Jazz Owl