Soprano saxophonist David Liebman, whose distinguished career includes extended periods with Miles Davis and Elvin Jones plus his own important groups like Quest and Lookout Farm, has taken the most active interest in Ireland, and four years since his last memorable visit, he’s back in the performer, mentor and educator capacities in which he excels.
With his darkly intense tone, sinuous lines and masterful control of volatile chromaticism, Liebman has a unique musical vocabulary that is emotive, powerful and direct. He’s also one of the most generous spirits and forthright thinkers in jazz today, an inspirational teacher and a seminal link to the artists, like Miles, who still cast a long shadow in creative music.
On this tour Liebman is reunited with Ronan Guilfoyle, the Irish bassist with whom he enjoys a special rapport that stretches back two decades. It’s the sort of company that requires a drummer who swings mightily, with an old school commitment to fast terrain and long form blowing. Step up Jussi Lehtonen, mainstay of celebrated Finnish groovers like the Timo Lassy Band, and one of the most propulsive drummers this side of the Arctic Circle.
There will be a masterclass for the members of Limerick Jazz Workshop at 6.30pm which will be open to the public. Entrance to the masterclass is €10 (concert and masterclass €15 combined).
David Liebman’s career has spanned over four decades, beginning in the 1970s as the saxophone/flautist in both the Elvin Jones and Miles Davis Groups, continuing as a leader since. He has played on nearly three hundred recordings with over one hundred under his leadership or co-leadership. In jazz education he is a renowned lecturer and author of several milestone books: Self Portrait Of A Jazz Artist, A Chromatic Approach To Jazz Harmony And Melody, Developing A Personal Saxophone Sound, translated into several languages, in addition to teaching DVDs, journalistic contributions to periodicals and published chamber music.
He is the Founder and Artistic Director of the International Association of Schools of Jazz (IASJ) existing since 1989. Awards include the National Endowment of the Arts Masters of Jazz (2011); the Order of Arts and Letters (France 2009); Jazz Journalist’s award for Soprano Saxophone (2007); Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Solo (1998); Honorary Doctorate from the Sibelius Academy (Finland-1997). He is currently Artist in Residence at the Manhattan School of Music and has consistently placed in the top three places for Soprano Saxophone in the Downbeat Critic’s Poll since 1973, winning first place in both the Downbeat and Jazz Times Critic’s Poll in 2011.
Ronan Guilfoyle is a major figure on the Irish jazz scene and has developed an international reputation as a performer, teacher and composer. He began his career with Louis Stewart’s group in the early 1980’s and studied at the Banff Centre for the Arts in 1986 and 1987 where his teachers included John Abercrombie, Dave Holland, and Steve Coleman. Performing on the acoustic bass guitar since the early 1980s, Ronan is now one of the instrument’s leading exponents, and is now much in demand as a bassist, both in his native Ireland and on the international jazz scene. Among the people he has performed with are Dave Liebman, Kenny Werner, Joe Lovano, Kenny Wheeler, Keith Copeland, Brad Mehldau, John Abercrombie, Larry Coryell, Benny Golson, Jim McNeely, Sonny Fortune, Andrea Keller, Andy Laster, Emily Remler, Simon Nabatov, Richie Beirach, and Tom Rainey. He has also been leading his own groups since the mid 1980s, and his groups have toured extensively in Europe, Asia, and North America. He has recorded extensively both as a sideman and as a leader and his output includes the award winning “Devsirme” in 1997. Ronan has been composing for classical ensembles since 1993, specialising in compositions which feature both improvised and written music. He has had great success in this field and has now a large body of work that ranges from solo piano pieces, to chamber works, to orchestral compositions. He has had commissions from a wide range of ensembles and organisations including the RTE Concert Orchestra in Dublin, The Opus 20 String Orchestra in London, and the European Jazz Youth Orchestra. He has also been commissioned to write works for many great soloists including the saxophonist David Liebman, the violinist Michael D’arcy and the virtuoso accordionist Dermot Dunne. Ronan has also acquired a formidable reputation as a composer in the world of contemporary jazz, and his music has been performed by such jazz luminaries as Dave Liebman, Kenny Werner, Kenny Wheeler, Keith Copeland, John Abercrombie, Andy Laster, Simon Nabatov, Richie Beirach, Tom Rainey, Julian Arguelles, Rick Peckham, and Sonny Fortune. In 1997 he won the Julius Hemphill Jazz Composition Competition in the United States. Over the past 10 years Ronan has become very well known for the teaching of advanced rhythmic techniques for jazz improvisation and his book, “Creative Rhythmic Concepts for Jazz Improvisation” which covers such areas as metric modulation and odd metre playing, is now seen as the standard text for this area. He has been invited to teach this subject at many schools around the world including Berklee College of Music, The New School, and is an associate Artist of the Royal Academy of Music in London, and has also lectured on it for the International Music Congress (UNESCO) in Copenhagen. Ronan is the founder of and head of the jazz department at Newpark Music Centre in Dublin, the only school offering post-secondary jazz education in Ireland.
One of the most used drummers in the finnish jazz-scene, JussiLehtonen has played with almost every major jazz-artist in Finland. Also an experienced teacher in Sibelius-Academy, Helsinki, and at seminars and camps.
Lehtonen released his first CD (”FIRSTBORN”) as a leader in march 2009, and has done several recordings as a sideman. He has played and toured with such names as: Randy Brecker, Tim Hagans, Wayne Krantz, Jukkis Uotila, Palle Danielsson, Rick Margitza, Stockholm Jazz Orchestra, Norrbotten Big Band, UMO, Marc Bernstein, Scott Kinsey, etc…
Lehtonen’s first notable band, in 2001, was a jam band from a moldy cellar that developed to be the U-Street All Stars. That band was an energetic jazzgroup, and it got the chance to play a lot in Finland and abroad, being a very important experience concerning the practical side of touring, especially for a young and aspiring drummer… The band released two albums for Finland’s Blue Note.
At the same time Lehtonen started to play Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters music in the brilliant drummer/pianist Jukkis Uotila’s ensemble with Jukkis on keys,Timo Hirvonen on bass and Teemu Viinikainen on guitar. The groove was right there, and this group played with different sax players, for example Marc Bernstein and Jukka Perko. The same rhythm section was present when the great trumpet player Randy Brecker came to Finland in March 2002. They played two nights at the sold-out Jumo Jazz Club.
In 2003 Lehtonen had an idea about playing some music that his long-time bass idol Jaco Pastorius had written/performed. As it happened, the merciless bass- extraordinare Timo Hirvonen was sitting right next to him, and a new group had been born: In the Spirit of Jaco Pastorius. That group was four horns with an expanded rhythm section, and in the repertoire were all the classic Jaco-tunes, and also a few other suprising treats, such as finnish lyrics for Teen Town… The band played a lot of gigs in Finland, including a tour for the Finnish Jazz Federation. In 2005 Jukkis Uotila, who plays keyboards in the band, managed to bring the idea of playing this music over to Sweden, with the fabulous Stockholm Jazz Orchestra. Uotila is the regular drummer of this band, this time conducting and playing keyboards. The three fellows, Uotila, Hirvonen and Lehtonen played two succesful tours in Sweden with SJO.
In 2005 Viinikainen, Hirvonen and Lehtonen had formed a trio, and had an opportunity to play in New York City with the trumpetwisard Tim Hagans. This led to other gigs in Finland, and a recording session under Viinikainen’s name, “Tales of Robert Dickson”. The same year Lehtonen gratuated from Sibelius-Academy’s jazz department.
Lehtonen continued his collaborations with the swedes, and started a series of concerts entitled “Finnkampen”. This friendly international tournament has had gigs in Finland and Sweden, and also two recordings with YLE, the Finnish Broadcasting Company, and a live recording with the Swedish Radio. The musicians involved (so far) include: Johan Hörlen, Karl-Martin Almqvist, Robert Nordmark, Palle Danielsson, Severi Pyysalo, Teemu Viinikainen, Timo Hirvonen and Ville Huolman. More to come!
In March of 2007 the “Fabulous Finnish Funky Five”, i.e. Uotila, Viinikainen, Hirvonen, Lehtonen and saxophonist Joonatan “Ironman” Rautio, were invited to play with the great Norrbotten Big Band with Randy Brecker as a featured soloist and Tim Hagans as a conductor/soloist. The music was written by Brecker and Hagans, with a few Pastorius originals thrown in. The band toured around Sweden for two weeks.
In the past few years Lehtonen has been active as a sideman, in addition to leading his own groups and teaching. Among the most active bands has been Timo Lassy Band, which has played a lot in Finland and also a tour in the U.S., and some gigs in Europe. Jukkis Uotila Band has also been active, playing in Finland and also in Japan. Other projects with Uotila include Jaco’s music with UMO (the no.1 big band in Finland) and the McCoy Tyner project. One of the most active bands recently has been The Mokners, which is a trio with Hirvonen and the unstoppable vibraphonist Severi Pyysalo. This band will be releasing a live cd in the near future, recorded during a Jazz Federation tour of Finland in April 2009.
Other bands associated with Lehtonen: Jenny Robson Band, Gustav Lundgren Quartet, Mikko Karjalainen Fellowship Quintet, Risto Toppola Trio, Jussi Fredriksson Busy Turtles, Sami Linna Quintet, Kannaste-Ojajärvi Quartet, George Kontrafouris, Eero Koivistoinen, Olli Ahvenlahti, Timo Hirvonen High Five!, Jimi Tenor, …