By Ed Enright | Published November 2017
The collaboration of Martial Solal and Dave Liebman, two master musicians from different generations and continents, might seem highly unlikely—but it was clearly meant to be. The 90-year-old French pianist Solal and the American saxophonist Liebman, 20 years his junior, were brought together by a former student of Liebman’s who happened to be Solal’s son-in-law. After playing a two-evening engagement at a Paris jazz club and making further such meetings a priority, Solal and Liebman were invited to perform at the Jazz and Wine Festival in Bordeaux. That concert, which took place at Château Guiraud in Sauternes, France, is the source of this brilliant live recording of the duo playing jazz standards in a spontaneous, go-with-the-flow manner. Choosing the material on the spot, they start off by riffing on the well-known jazz introduction to “All The Things You Are” before exploring the song’s main theme, taking a deconstructive approach. Solal then leads them into “Night And Day,” where sparks of exhilaration begin to fly. Liebman switches to soprano to introduce Miles Davis’ “Solar,” leading to more deeply empathic interplay. Back on tenor, Liebman plays an abstracted cadenza to kick off “What Is This Thing Called Love,” leading to exciting duo exchanges and an inspired Solal solo. The program continues with an adventurous take on “On Green Dolphin Street” and ends with a dramatic reading of “Lover Man.” With their vast knowledge of repertoire, unpredictable yet consistently tasteful choices, in-the-moment confidence and decades of experience, these two are unstoppable. And, despite their advanced knowledge and abilities, their performance here is much more relatable than the sometimes overly esoteric sax-and-piano duos of, say, Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock. Let’s hope Solal and Liebman continue their collaboration, because listening to Masters In Bordeaux leaves us wanting more—much more, as soon as possible.