The National Endowment of the Arts’ Jazz Master, Dave Liebman, was born in New York City on September 4th, 1946 during a period of change in jazz, one that has yet to be properly documented by even its most noted musicians, writers, filmmakers, and serious academics. It was a time when Afro-Cuban based dance music and its driving polyrhythms were taking the city, and eventually the country, by storm. At its epicenter was the Machito Afro-Cubans, a big band led by the amazing multi-instrumentalist (clarinet, alto sax, lead trumpet) Mario Bauzá and his brother-in- law Frank Grillo (Machito). Thus Afro-Cuban jazz, the first form of Latin jazz, was born and Afro-Cuban percussion would become part of mainstream jazz in America.
With Ceremony, Dave has added to that history and joined the continuum of New York-based musicians that have contributed to the Apple’s rich Afro-Latin music culture. Dave’s beautiful flute, tenor, and soprano sax lines soar over the rhythms played by young virtuosic percussionists throughout this beautifully haunting record. They provide a cultural context evoking the spirit of John Coltrane, particularly in the three opening pieces which were penned by Trane and arranged by Lieb. Along with the Coltrane cuts, the pieces “Danza” and the traditional “Tardes”, also featured are three “Ceremony” pieces Dave calls “Morning” “Afternoon” “Evening” which center around one theme adjusted for each of the chosen modes encased in odd meter bass and drum lines.