Lookout Farm: At Onkel Pö’s Carnegie Hall 1975


Everyone seemed to play louder and more riotously at Onkel Pö’s, as I recall. Hamburg was a boat trip away and the Beatles and great beer and there always seemed to be something on at the archly named Carnegie Hall. This is just the latest in a growing series of radio recordings made in everyone’s favourite dive. We’ve had Woody Shaw, Johnny Griffin, Freddie Hubbard, Dizzy Gillespie, and every one of them seem pumped by the setting.

Dave Liebman and Richie Beirach seem joined at the hip. Their subsequent “name” group Quest is still a thing and still capable of astonishing good music. Beirach’s occasional reputation as a somewhat introspective and classically inclined pianist is blown out of the water in the most blatant case of Rhodes abuse you’ll ever hear. Beirach positively pounds his electric keyboard, getting not just volume but an oily shimmer of sound out of it. Liebman, still playing both tenor and soprano before he opted for monogamy, is in equally incandescent form, and still very much in his Miles-influenced bandana period.

They give Coltrane’s Your Lady the night of her life – I was going to say that they met her on the Reeperbahn but that didn’t sound #MeToo enough – and I’m A Fool To Want You, co-written by Sinatra, is utterly transformed. The other tracks are from the band’s regular book of the time.

Liebman has posted more than four hours of live Lookout Farm on YouTube, free to listen, but I haven’t found versions of Fireflies or The Iguana’s Ritual better than these. The only downer is that Badal Roy is mostly lost, not in crowd noise, but overpowered by the rest of the band. Liebman had worked with Miles Davis; he must have known what that felt like. Here, at least, he got to explore his Coltrane stylings with headlong freedom.

At Onkel Pö’s Carnegie Hall 1975: Naponoch; The Iguana’s Ritual; I’m A Fool To Want You; Your Lady; Fireflies (58.40)
Dave Liebman (ss, ts); Richie Beirach (elp); Frank Tusa (elb); Jeff Williams (d); Badal Roy (tabla). Hamburg, August 1975.
Jazzline Records 10426