Gig review: David Liebman/Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, Edinburgh

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DAVID Liebman can make his soprano saxophone sing like a bird, moan like a wounded animal, and much else.

David Liebman/Scottish National Jazz Orchestra - Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh

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Just how much he demonstrated on this sometimes explosive collaboration with the SNJO, right from the powerfully sustained opening exposition of MD/ Lookout Farm, in which drifting reeds and brass provided a haunting backdrop forLiebman’s first, rich-toned voicings, which gradually worked themselves up to a stormy climax before Alyn Cosker’s drum solo led on to fiery duetting between Liebman and SNJO director Tommy Smith on tenor sax.

One of the world’s foremost jazz saxophonists, Liebman’s mercurial and often ferocious attack didn’t eliminate plenty of light and shade, and while there were such no-holds-barred, jazz charges as New Breed and Gazelle, there were also beautifully toned moments, notably Port Lligat with Liebman and Smith’s oriental flutes providing a ghostly opening to what became an impressionist tour de force, with soprano sax sounding intensifying bird calls over murmuring orchestra.

There were also some impressive solo interjections from SNJO members such as Smith and Martin Kershaw on saxes, while Paul Harrison excelled on piano and Phil O’Malley’s trombone solo ushered Day and Night, Liebman’s take on the Cole Porter classic, into exuberant Latin mode.

This was Liebman’s first visit to Scotland since his 2001 collaboration with the SNJO and he was clearly relishing the reunion, which also made for an impressive precursor to the band’s forthcoming tour of the US and Canada.