Carol Liebowitz & Nick Lyons | First Set

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Jazz: Modern Creative Jazz Avant Garde: Free Improvisation Moods: Type: Improvisational
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First Set

by Carol Liebowitz & Nick Lyons

A live set (plus bonus studio track) of go-anywhere in-the-moment jazz improvisation marked by spontaneous lyricism, and adventurous harmonic and textural palettes.
Genre: Jazz: Modern Creative Jazz
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Carol's Dream (Live)
7:51 $1.29
2. Turquoise Echo (Live)
3:27 $1.29
3. Twain Shall Meet (Live)
4:03 $1.29
4. The Very Thing (Live)
8:00 $1.29
5. Ephemera (Live)
4:20 $1.29
6. Reverie on a Sunday Afternoon (Live)
4:01 $1.29
7. Roy's Joy (Live)
7:56 $1.29
8. Another Time
4:07 $1.29
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Carol Liebowitz and Nick Lyons’s duo is an embodiment of go-anywhere in-the-moment improvisation. Their spontaneous lyricism, adventurous harmonic and textural palettes, and the natural ease with which their sounds merge results in a musical beauty and complexity that “expands and fills up corridors after each opened door” (Mark Weber). The free improvisations retain something of the swinging momentum of the tunes, and the tunes have an ever-unfolding and intrinsic form that is more commonly found in free-form playing. Tracks 1–7 are from a live concert, one of an informal series on Sundays that took place at Connie Crothers’s loft beginning January 2011, continuing into 2012.

Pianist Carol Liebowitz brings a uniquely expressive and personal sound to the jazz and free improvisation scene. Her recent CD, “Payne Lindal Liebowitz.” a trio with clarinetist Bill Payne and violinist Eva Lindal on Line Art Records, was chosen by Art Lange as one of the Top Ten Jazz CDs in the NPR 2015 Jazz Critics Poll. Defined by “high caliber musicianship and intelligent, electrifying artistry” (Hrayr Attarian, All About Jazz), Marc Medwin in Cadence Magazine writes “Simply put, they sound like no one else. . . . The recording is superb.” After focusing on classical repertoire at the High School of Performing Arts and NYU, her musical direction turned to improvisation and she began studying with Connie Crothers. Other influential teachers have included Sal Mosca, Jay Clayton and Sheila Jordan. She has performed in Europe and throughout the New York City metropolitan area in venues such as Roulette, The Stone, Cornelia Street Cafe, ibeam, The Firehouse Space, Arts for Art, Spectrum, Galapagos and Birdland. In addition to frequent solo concert appearances, Carol has worked in various groups—from duos to sextet—with musicians including Daro Behroozi, Adam Caine, Daniel Carter, Bill Chattin, Claire de Brunner, Maryanne de Prophetis, Andrew Drury, Ken Filiano, Birgitta Flick, Guillermo Gregorio, Ratzo Harris, Ron Horton, Will Jhun, KenYa Kawaguchi, Adam Lane, Eva Lindal, Nick Lyons, Adam Melville, Don Messina, Ryan Messina, Kevin Norton, Bill Payne, John Pietaro, Lorenzo Sanguedolce, John Wagner, Michael Wimberly, Andrea Wolper, and dancer Michiru Inoue. Carol also has two releases on the New Artists label: “Waves of Blue Intensities,” a duo with tenor saxophonist Bob Field, and “Time on My Hands,” a duo with Andy Fite.

Alto Saxophonist Nick Lyons has been called “one of the most important and original alto saxophonists on the improvisation scene” (Manhattan Users Guide, 2015) and “definitely a young jazzer to watch” (Time Out–NY). His collaborations, based around spontaneously improvised music, have included performing with guitarist Adam Caine, pianists Carol Liebowitz and Connie Crothers. Lyons leads various trios which have included drummers Roger Mancuso and John Wagner and bassists Adam Lane, Hilliard Greene, and Ratzo Harris. Of his 2009 solo performance at The Stone (a pick in Time Out–NY), Mark Weber commented on “his ability to go inside himself and find meaningful lyric inventions, curling out line upon line,” adding that the concert was “magnificent.” In 2015 Nick was a featured guest on WKCR’s “Out to Lunch,” performed in Berlin at clubs A-Trane and B-Flat and appeared on Cheryl Richards’s CD “If Not For You” on New Artists Records. He has been a regular performer in concert series presented by Arts for Art, the NYC fixture which produces the annual Vision Festival, most recently in Spring 2016 in a quartet with Carol Liebowitz, percussionist Andrew Drury and multi-instrumentalist Daniel Carter. He has recently performed in groups led by tenor saxophonist Jimmy Halperin (who cited Lyons as one of his favorite young musicians in New York City,, Connie Crothers (The Stone), pianist Harvey Diamond (Boston area), and Aaron Johnson (Dizzy’s Club); and he has led groups with pianist Kazzrie Jaxen and bassist Ken Filiano, and pianist Virg Dzurinko, trumpeter Ryan Messina, and drummer Federico Ughi.

“This is a live recording that captures a particularly inspired concert by the duo of Carol Liebowitz on piano and alto saxophonist, Nick Lyons. They were in the loft of the recently passed Connie Crothers, who also served as the recording engineer. Only the last track on the album, “Another Time,” was recorded in a studio. Theirs is a delicate and suffused music, with a “liquid” piano and a saxophone played objectively, without vibrato, meeting in an atmosphere that nevertheless draws you in, perhaps because of its originality, or perhaps because beneath the apparent tranquility on the surface runs a deep energy. “Carol’s Dream” opens the set, which is closed by “Roy’s Joy,” two compositions by Crothers. The rest of the tracks are free improvisations with melodic lines, harmonies, spontaneously-created themes springing from a moment’s inspiration, digging deeply into the meanderings that are hidden within the ideas of the performers. Some things are just brilliant, the long “The Very Thing,” for example—eight minutes in which the music proceeds intimately, almost as in a flashback of ideas, dense with meaning. The duo’s avant-gardism seems accessible, communicative, rich with ideas, even simple and enjoyable. “Reverie on a Sunday Afternoon” and “Ephemera” represent an ethereal music, rooted in jazz, but ultimately evading any classification. “Roy’s Joy,” with the alto sax’s beautiful lines, clean and precise, is a truly inspired performance. “Another Time,” which closes out the album, is a subtle, alluring ballad. The two musicians know how to seduce the listener and leave a deep mark in his state of being. Their performance is one of those that, for some reason, draws you back to listen again to discover and appreciate new aspects.”
—Vittorio Lo Conte, (translation by Lorenzo Sanguedolce)

“The first seven tracks presented here emanate from a series of live concerts performed in 2012, the final number “Another Time” being studio-recorded in 2007. The live concerts took place in front of an audience in the loft of Connie Crothers under whom Carol Liebowitz studied piano.

This improvisational pair recalls the duo performances of Steve Lacy and Mal Waldron in style and intensity and despite Nick Lyons playing alto saxophone as opposed to soprano, the comparison still holds since Lyons often favours the higher registers of his instrument.

Although the tracks are improvised in the main, there are some characteristics not shared in every piece, “Carol’s Dream,” for example, benefits from a highly complex and rapidly scored opening, whereas the languid “Reverie On A Sunday Afternoon” meanders in an unhurried fashion, as does the lengthy “The Very Thing.”

“Ephemera” displays light and shade in respect of its dynamics, the piano at times almost thunderous. “Roy’s Joy” another semi-arranged composition has a lively, near-blues quality and the closing, studio number “Another Time” reverts to a languorous nature.

Liebowitz and Lyons possess an almost telepathic sensibility and as a result the music on this 43 minute CD evinces a hypnotically engaging charm.”
—Roger Farbey, All About Jazz (November 29, 2016)

“Freely improvised music”—it’s a term that can raise alarms in the stoutest of listeners. It’s been used to legitimize all sorts of undisciplined caterwaulings closer to primal scream therapy than music. But pianist Carol Liebowitz and saxophonist Nick Lyons enliven and elevate that term. Their integrity, uncompromising commitment to living in the moment, and sheer musicality make every encounter an artistic adventure. First Set (Line Art Records), their new release, invites you to join the duo on eight improvisational excursions that carry you away from the everyday.

Seven of the tracks were recorded live in May 2012, part of an informal Sunday concert series at the loft of the late pianist/composer/teacher Connie Crothers. The eighth track was laid down in the studio in 2007. All but two of the tracks are full-on improvisations. The remaining two are contrafact compositions by Crothers, “Carol’s Dream,” built on “You Stepped Out of a Dream,” and “Roy’s Joy,” based on “I’m Getting Sentimental over You.”

“Carol’s Dream” opens the album in mystery, and its muscular whimsy sets the stage for the remainder of the program. Lyons’ expressive tone has an almost human vocal quality, and Liebowitz’s visceral command of the piano’s sonorities, her skillful use of the pedals, and her lightning-quick reflexes create a lush environment for exploration. Highlights include “Turquoise Echo,” illuminated by Liebowitz’s otherworldly chords against Lyons’ questioning, probing sax. On “Twain Shall Meet,” Lyons sails over a lake of sound from Liebowitz. “The Very Thing” adds a touch of boogie, with an assertive solo from Liebowitz that turns tender and searching. “Reverie on a Sunday Afternoon” has the elasticity of a dream, reminding us that both time and space are infinitely pliable, while the propulsive “Roy’s Joy” takes an angular Monk-like attack.

Both players evince an acute sensitivity to one another and to their own internal impulses, keeping the music alive and unpredictable across a wide expanse of human feeling. You may not come away humming the tunes, but your ears will be humming from the get-go.”
—Mel Minter, (November 30, 2016)

“..Most of this disc was recorded live at Ms. Crothers’ loft series. All of the songs were written or improvised by the duo except for two songs by Ms. Crothers. Commencing with “Carol’s Dream,” the duo do sound like they are emerging from a dream: elegant, warm, sublime and filled with subtle spirits. Mr. Lyons has a splendid, rich and compelling Lee Konitz-like tone. Although this music sounds improvised, the duo seem to know exactly where each other is going, matching many of their lines gracefully. They sound as if they are completing each others’ lines at times. They also stretch out reaching past established boundaries at times, balancing just right without falling in or over the edge. As these pieces progress, the duo go further out yet remain together as they weave their tight lines around one another. The set closer is Ms. Crothers’ song, “Roy’s Joy” which does have a most uplifting, joyous vibe and reminds me of great vibes which often emanated from trumpeter Roy Campbell, another wonderful Downtown musician who passed away not that long ago. This is a great duo who work especially well together and sound as if they have been playing together for many years.”
—Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery (December 2016)

“These recordings attest to an almost telepathic connection, as subtle and translucent as the most exquisite Flemish lace…” 
—Leonid Auskern, (October 24, 2016)



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