Saxophonist and composer David Liebman has assembled one of his finest bands for Conversation. In guitarist Vic Juris he has found a fellow melodist for whom modalism is the means to musical discovery and whose love of warm textures is equal to his own. In the rhythm section of drummer Marko Marcinko and bassist Tony Marino, Liebman has found a combo that pushes at the edges of rhythmic interplay, engaging the front line with vigor and imagination.
The ten tunes here run the gamut. There's the Juris-composed "Short George," a melodic modal workout reminiscent of Liebman's years with ECM or the group Oregon at their best. "Snow Day" is a gorgeous ballad based on a small harmonic scale that features Liebman playing his soprano with restrained but evident passion and nuance while Juris underlines his phrases with subtle chord washes and Marino punctuates the lines softly.
But it is on "Anubis" that listeners hear this band at its most fully engaged, as Eastern and Western thematic and harmonic motifs entwine between the interval and melody and the soloists stretch the tune's framework to the breaking point without losing reverence for its deeply atmospheric framework. In all, this is strong work by Liebman, and this is a band to watch.