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 interest in jazz was sparked by seeing John Coltrane perform live in New York City clubs such as Birdland, the Village Vanguard and the Half Note. Throughout high school and college, Liebman pursued his jazz interest by studying with Joe Allard, Lennie Tristano and Charles Lloyd as well as taking the leading role in organizing several dozen musicians into a cooperative, Free Life Communication which became an integral part of the fertile New York loft jazz scene. 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.
After some time spent with Ten Wheel Drive, one of the early jazz fusion groups, Liebman secured the saxophone/flute position with the group of John Coltraneís drummer, Elvin Jones. Within two years, Liebman reached the zenith of his apprenticeship period when Miles Davis hired him. These years, 1970-74, were filled with tours, recordings and the incredible experience gained by being on the band stand 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 while touring the U.S., Canada, India, Japan and Europe. In the U.S., Lookout Farm was recognized as Number One in the category Group Deserving of Wider Recognition in the 1976 Downbeat Magazineís International Critics’ Poll.
In 1977, Liebman did a world tour with pianist Chick Corea followed up the next year by the formation of the David Liebman Quintet with John Scofield, Kenny Kirkland and Terumasa Hino as featured sidemen. After several world tours and recordings by the quintet over three years, he reunited with Richard Beirach. They began performing and recording as a duo, as well as creating the group Quest in 1981. Beginning with bassist George Mraz and drummer Al Foster, the group solidified when Ron McClure and Billy Hart joined in 1984. Through 1991, Quest recorded seven CDs, toured extensively and did many workshops with students worldwide.
Liebmanís group of the 1990s into the present includes guitarist Vic Juris, bassist Tony Marino and drummer Marko Marcinko. With this group he has pursued an eclectic and contemporary direction employing at different stages world percussion instruments as well as synthesizers, always maintaining a repertoire that tries to balance the past, present and of course the future. The group has recorded extensively featuring both original music as well as arrangements of compositions by Miles Davis, John Coltrane and even Puccini arias
Over the past several decades, Liebman has often been featured with top European musicians such as Joachim Kuhn, Daniel Humair, Paolo Fresu, Jon Christensen, Bobo Stenson and in the World View Trio with Austrian drummer Wolfgang Reisenger and French bassist Jean-Paul Celea. His reputation in Europe has led to big band and radio orchestra performances, such as with the WDR in Koln, the Metropole Orchestra and the new music Klang Forum in Vienna, Austria playing music especially commissioned to feature Liebman’s unique soprano saxophone style. He has consistently placed in the top five of the Downbeat Critics’ Poll since 1973 in the Soprano Saxophone category. As of the present, David Liebman has been featured on nearly 300 recordings, of which he has been the leader and/or co-leader on nearly 100. Well over 200 original compositions have been recorded. His artistic output has ranged from straight ahead classic jazz to chamber music; from fusion to avant garde.
Liebman has several books published on a variety of subjects, instructional videos, published chamber music and has contributed regularly to various periodicals such as the Saxophone Journal and the International Association of Jazz Educators Journal. In the jazz education field 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, etc) which have been translated into other languages in addition to teaching videos and published chamber music.
His teaching activities at universities and in clinic settings have taken him literally around the world, primarily because of his varied musical interests, expertise on several instruments and ability to articulate the intricacies of the jazz language, aesthetic and technique. Over the years, he has regularly received grantees to study with him funded by the NEA (U.S.), the Canadian Arts Council, as well as Arts Councils of numerous European countries. Liebman himself has received two National Endowment of the Arts Grants for composition (1980) and performance (1991).
In 1989 he founded the International Association of Schools of Jazz (IASJ), an organization dedicated to networking educators and students from international jazz schools through periodic meetings, exchange programs and newsletters. Liebman presently serves as the Artistic Director of the IASJ. Membership includes schools and individual teachers from over forty countries. David has been a member of the graduate faculty in the jazz department of the Manhattan School of Music in New York City since 2000 and is also a member of the Jazz Improv Board of Advisors and The Jazz Alliance.
ìWhile others of his 60s generation have fallen off their ambition, Liebman has remained dogged about composition and trying difficult stylesÖheís a fighter.î… .New York Times(Ben Ratliff)
Snow Day –
Liebman – Saxophone
Tony Marino – Bass
Vic Juris – Guitar
Marco Marcinko – Drums