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Dave Liebman

Dave Liebman is an NEA Jazz Master

David Liebman was born in Brooklyn, New York on September 4, 1946. He began classical piano lessons at the age of nine and saxophone by twelve. His “epiphany” was hearing John Coltrane perform live in New York City clubs such as Birdland, Village Vanguard and Half Note as a teenager. Throughout high school and college, Liebman pursued his jazz interest by studying with saxophone guru Joe Allard as well as jazz musicians Lennie

Tristano and Charles Lloyd. Upon graduation from New York University (with a degree in American History), he began to seriously devote himself to the full time pursuit of being a jazz artist. In the early 1970s, Liebman took the leading organizational role as Founder and President of Free Life Communication, a cooperative of several dozen young cutting edge musicians intent on performing around New York in venues outside the traditional jazz club situation. Free Life became an integral part of the fertile New York “loft” jazz scene in this period and was funded by the New York State Council of the Arts and enjoyed a residency in the “Space for Innovative Development” which was a renovated church funded by the Rubin Foundation as a home for the arts in midtown Manhattan along with several other notable avant-garde performing groups…the Alwin Nikolais and Murray Louis ballet companies along with Joe Chaikan’s “Open Theater.”

After one year spent with Ten Wheel Drive, one of the early jazz fusion groups, Liebman secured the coveted saxophone/flute position in the group of John Coltrane’s ex-drummer, Elvin Jones. Within two years, Liebman reached the zenith of his apprenticeship period when the legendary trumpeter Miles Davis hired him. These years from 1970 thru 1974 were filled with tours, recordings and the incredible experience gained by being on the bandstand with two masters of jazz. At the same time, Liebman began exploring his own music-first in the Open Sky Trio with Bob Moses and then with pianist Richie Beirach in the group Lookout Farm. This group recorded for the German based ECM label as well as A&M Records and touring the U.S., Canada, India, Japan and Europe.

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”Liebman is one of the most important saxophonists in contemporary music... a leader and artist of integrity and independent direction.” —Downbeat Magazine




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