WWUH radio and the Little Theater
of Manchester (LTM) present Stellar Regions, a special concert commemorating the
life and music of John Coltrane, at 8 p.m. on the occasion of the saxophonists 74th
birth anniversary--Saturday, September 23. Guitarist Ron Bosse and his quintet Pursuance
guarantee unique arrangements of material spanning much of the legendary reedmans
brief but prolific career. They will be joined by special guest Dave Liebman, a respected
Coltrane protege who has been fervently developing his own potent body of work for the
past three decades. Cheney Hall, one of Greater Hartfords most active nonprofit arts
presenters, is located at 177 Hartford Road in Manchester. General admission tickets are
$15; gold circle reserved seating is available at $20. For advance reservations, call the
Cheney Hall box office at (860) 647-9824.
Pursuin the Trane
Ron Bosse formed Pursuance several years ago
in Boston, where he had recently graduated from the Berklee College of Music. As principal
composer for the ensemble, Bosse says he seeks "to retain that indispensable element
of jazzswing and groovebut at the same time be progressive and try to push the
limits of rhythm, harmony and form." He named the band after a piece from John
Coltranes masterpiece, A Love Supreme.
The current Pursuance roster is comprised of vibraphonist Will
Hudgins, saxophonist Jason Hunter, bassist Scott Barnum and drummer Rob Egan. Each member
is capable of creating intense personal improvisations, but each is also committed to
maintaining a strong group identity. The quintet has issued two compact discs to date,
both on Thinking Man Records. The more recent, a 1999 release called Emotion and
Intellect, includes two inspired cameo performances by tenor saxist Gary Thomas.
Over the past 18 months, Ron Bosse and Pursuance have begun
carrying their musical message to listeners beyond the Bay State. Connecticut audiences
first glimpsed them at the 1998 Litchfield Jazz Festival. Since that time, they have
appeared at Hartfords Cafe 880 and Middletowns Buttonwood Tree.
Although Bosse initiated the idea that Pursuance should host a
Coltrane celebration, his bandmates were immediately receptive and excited by the
prospect. Hudgins, a percussionist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and professor at the
New England Conservatory, has a past association with longtime Coltrane drummer Elvin
Jones. He can also claim a Liebman connection, having studied years ago with Stellar
Regions guest performer, who coincidentally is himself an alumnus of several
Elvin Jones ensembles.
Jazz Times says of Dave Liebman,
"with his sophisticated harmonic technique and vast technique, he is still regarded
as a saxophonists saxophonist, one of the few to absorb fully and build upon the
Coltrane ideal." Liebman has made over 75 recordings as a leader and is a featured
sideman on more than 150 others. He was born in Brooklyn, New York on September 4, 1946.
As a young man, he studied theory and composition with Lennie Tristano and took saxophone
and flute lessons with Charles Lloyd.
In 1969, Liebman became an ardent member of the New York City
loft scene; his musical colleagues during this period of free-form experimentation
included Chick Corea, Dave Holland and brothers Randy and Michael Brecker. However, it was
a stint with Miles Davis (1973-74) that catapulted Liebman into the international jazz
spotlight. Soon after, he formed Lookout Farm, a daring ensemble that added elements of
rock and various ethnic folk musics to his already expansive sonic palette. In the ensuing
years, Liebman has led several different small groups and worked extensively with a
collective quartet known as Quest. His current band, with guitarist Vic Juris, bassist
Tony Marino and drummer Jamey Haddad, has been together since 1991.
When hes not busy touring or recording, Liebman devotes his
energies to various facets of jazz education. He presently serves as Artisitic Director
for the International Association of Schools of Jazz, an organization he founded in 1989.
This network links educators and students in 40 different countries through meetings and
exchange programs. Liebman is also the author of numerous books and articles about jazz.
His contributions to teaching earned him a permanent place in the International
Association of Jazz Educators Hall of Fame earlier this year.
During the 1970s, Liebman gigged in the Constitution State fairly
often after forging musical bonds with a number of Connecticut improvisers. Those days
were short-lived, however, once the saxman began enjoying greater success in Europe and
Japan. Liebmans participation in Stellar Regions on September 23 marks his
first Hartford-area appearance in many years.
Impressions of Giant Steps
Dave Liebman attended his first Coltrane gig
at age 15; the event proved to be an epiphany for the young musician, who had only
recently begun exploring the jazz idiom. The "classic quartet" Liebman witnessed
that evening featured McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones and Jimmy Garrison. His fascination with
the music these men played together lured him back to hear them again and again. Liebman
estimates he saw this quartet in performance as many as 30 times over the next several
years. Coltranes command of the then-neglected soprano saxophone prompted Liebman
(and innumerable other reed players of his generation) to take up the instrument, in
addition to his tenor sax studies.
On January 27, 1987, Liebman assembled two quintetsone
acoustic, the other electricto record a remarkable tribute to his musical mentor. In
his liner notes for Homage to John Coltrane, he writes, "John Coltranes
influence on contemporary music has been awesome, ranging beyond his incredible saxophone
playing. The intensity and conviction of Tranes music stands as a pinnacle of
inspired creativity among all of twentieth century art."
Ron Bosse is too young to have been among the privileged
audiences who heard musical history in the making at the Village Vanguard and other Big
Apple jazz haunts of the early 60s. Yet, his appreciation for Coltranes artistry is
no less enthusiastic than Liebmans. At the same time, both Bosse and Liebman are
committed to expanding upon the jazz tradition, not merely duplicating past masterpieces.
They ascribe to the philosophy that, in order for jazz to remain exciting and innovative,
artists must be willing to take risks, to explore new directions, just as Coltrane did
throughout his life. Therefore, Stellar Regions promises to deliver fresh, inspired
approaches to the compositions of one of the most respected jazz artists of all time.
Copyright©WWUH: September/October Program Guide, 2000