Dave Liebman & Jeff Williams: In Duo

An expressive, often torrential 1991 improvised duet between sopranist Liebman and drummer Williams has been cleanly restored from cassette


Fifteen years after the break-up of their seminal band Lookout Farm in 1976, saxophonist Dave Liebman and drummer Jeff Williams reunited for one night in a New York club in a display of spontaneous and free-flowing exploratory dialogues.

The duo’s performance was long considered lost, but was eventually unearthed on a cassette owned by Williams and has now been issued with all its fearless musicianship and obvious freshness and sense of commitment undimmed by the passage of time.

This is no-holds barred music, Liebman at his most experimental, Williams a fluid and committed contributor. The first set is intense and ardent, Liebman’s torrential, piercing soprano entering over Williams’s insistent drums as they engage in a lengthy conversation, Liebman straining in the higher registers, Williams alternating cymbal splashes with drum rolls and bass drum commentary. The dialogue is demanding on both players and listeners, Liebman backing out to allow Williams to solo in a rolling fashion before a second quieter dialogue of almost eastern temperament is opened by Liebman at around the 10-minute mark with repeated same-note interjections.

In contrast, Liebman introduces the second set with the hint of a religious intonation, Williams gently supporting him in the background. By around midway, Liebman has graduated to full strength, Williams a powerhouse behind him. The two conclude with a lyrical passage that gradually fades to nothing.

Throughout, the absolute empathy of the musicians is never in doubt, their spontaneous creation combining an element of chance allied with total commitment and understanding. It is so good to have this music available once again.

First Set; Second Set (41.34)
Liebman (ss); Williams (d). Live, Bar Room 432, NYC, 1991.
Whirlwind Recordings WR4817