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Although classical musicians have essentially lost their once strong spirit of improvisation, a number of jazz musicians have found classical repertoire as perfect inspiration for their experiments. Veteran soprano saxophonist Dave Liebman and the much younger pianist Bobby Avey (still in college at the time of this recording) joined forces to explore 19th century art songs and excerpts from larger works, even exploring a bit of music from the 18th and 20th centuries, with the pianist working out most of the arrangements. Staying in tune was an obvious concern for Liebman in this intimate music and his playing is flawless throughout the date, while Avey's playing is also consistently rewarding. Their moody take of Schubert's Etude in E Flat Minor, Op. 10, No. 6 conveys a sorrowful message of longing, while Mendelssohn's May Breezes, Op. 62, No. 1 is a lyrical masterpiece, suggesting an elderly person looking back on life. Their approach to Handel's Sonata No. 6 is lighthearted and playful, while their interpretation of Debussy's delicate Fleur des Bles conjures a pastoral scene with a gentle breeze and light rain. The duo incorporates a bit of Stravinsky-like dissonance into their reworking of Mahler's Der Einsame Im Herbst. Like the original compositions written decades or centuries earlier, this beautifully recorded chamber music CD by Dave Liebman and Bobby Avey will also stand the test of time.
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