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Live 2008

1. The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (David Liebman) 15:26
2. Let Freedom Ring (Ron McClure) 10:32
3. Redial (David Liebman) 10:38
4. Brazilia (John Coltrane) 16:01
5. The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (David Liebman) 12:19
6. Continuum (Richie Beirach) 7:53
7. Redial (David Liebman) 10:12
8. Let Freedom Ring (Ron McClure) 6:17
9. Blue in Green (Bill Evans/Miles Davis) 8:22
10. The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (David Liebman)
11. Brazilia (John Coltrane) 19:27

David Liebman: Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Wooden Flute
Richie Beirach: Piano
Ron McClure: Bass
Billy Hart: Drums

Recorded Live in 2008
Mastered by Florian Van Volxem at CMP Studio, Zerkall, Germany
Produced by Kurt Renker

QUEST is a journey, not a destination. It has been an over 35 year journey, at first in several incarnations, but eventually leading up to the present line up for the last several decades with Lieb, Ron, Billy and myself. These various live concerts that have been released in the past few years whether in Hamburg, Paris, Stockholm, Detroit or New York are all like chapters in a long never ending book of what I think is an incredibly varied collection of contemporary small group improvised music..simply put...great live jazz quartet music!!

Music for us in this band as well as for many other people and listeners is more than just music. It is a way of life, a similar view of the world, a musical expression that delves deep into what is called the collective unconscious of humans all over the planet. There is music that surrounds us out in the world that is disposable, annoying, horrible, like audible poison. Remember, sound is all around us but real MUSIC is quite rare and it must be nurtured, shared and universally heard.

Quest is a band of very individual personalities, musically welded together into one of the most powerful and expressive bands in jazz history. I have seen the power of this music and of course felt it myself. Almost all the times we have played, each concert is a similar but a paradoxically different experience for the listeners, AND for us. You have a rotating body of compositions, covering many varied moods and colors, but depending on how the band feels individually and as a group on a nite to nite basis, it can and does sound significantly different.

Live music, whatever the style or genre, if it is really good has a POWER to reach people in their heads, hearts and bodies. The range of emotions felt by us in the group and in the audience is enormous, like holding up a kaleidoscope and turning it in the light of the sun. It can be earth shaking, delicately tender, whisperingly dark and frightening clouds of sound, or a wild group of encaged beasts marauding about the big city at 4 AM.

We in the band feel like we are in the eye of the storm. It takes a tremendous mastery of so-called basic skills and lightening fast musical reflexes to survive playing nightly and yearly in QUEST.

I for one am stretched to the limits beyond my normal capacity of creativity needing to enlist the necessary sheer emotional and physical endurance needed to be part of this tsunami called Quest. It feels like a certain kind of relentless ongoing boot camp for the seriously elite special forces groups like the Navy Seals or Airforce recon which exist in the best of any military force.

The mantra: you never know what your true limits are until you PUSH them! This is not at all a macho mania measuring boy’s club. We USE the years and years of individual practice and mastery of our instruments combined with playing together in all the major cities of the world in front of different audiences, towards creating musical challenges and attempting to climb Mt. Everest, but each time we climb it we try a different route.

Ron McClure (we call him McJolt)
is one of my oldest and dearest friends... a truly great jazz bass player and journeyman of countless nites playing with just about every great musician you could play with, including Miles, Herbie H, Tony W, Wynton K, Wes M, Charles L, Keith J, Jack D, Blood, Sweat and Tears, etc. In Quest he is the ultimate guide of the bedrock trail we traverse through, revealing the often difficult, dangerous and winding paths of the always unscripted map of our performances. McJolt offers great warm solos, an unerring sense of what to play when and very importantly when NOT to play. He brings his enormous experience playing with the masters to us every nite. Ron hears, then feels, then plays what’s really needed, brilliantly, making what is happening a beautiful unexpected moment to remember.

“Jabali” (Swahili for wisdom) Billy Hart.
What can I say in words to describe the audible cyclone that invades and has permeated my musical life for over 30 years. He is for sure ONE of a kind. One of the most beautiful and important things that he does with Quest is that when we are tackling a well known tune or musical moment that a normal talented drummer would be satisfied with playing the standard accompaniment to, Jabali takes that normal moment or piece and by sometimes playing AGAINST the usual or expected plays something that seems completely UNRELATED musically to it....therefore TRANSFORMING it into something miraculous and unexpectedly beautiful. What the brother is doing is in fact ORCHESTRATING the music as it moves along. It’s like the entire percussion section of the Berlin Philharmonic playing Bartok’s “Concerto For Orchestra” and it’s NEVER THE SAME. Of course we all have our own vocabularies, replete with individual elements like the understood grammar of a wonderful but slightly secret language, only spoken by certain people at certain times. Jabali’s genius is doing it in never the same place or same way twice. For example, he transforms a nice and simple eighth note ballad into a dramatic and almost symphonic musical screenplay of enormous power and depth. This is very helpful and a necessity by the way if you are playing in a band that plays the same tunes every nite in the great tradition of the Miles Davis groups of the 1960s. Specifically it was the inspiration Jabali received from Miles’ whiz-kid drummer, Tony Williams, to dissolve the molecules of sound and then resurrect them shortly after....truly a legendary and innovative skill. Finally of course, he is JABALI who brings his delightful sometimes shy, sometimes African shaman multifaceted person- ality to the dance. Jabali has now risen to the level of a national treasure and deserves every award, accolade and praise, which he earns every day with Quest, his own bands and the dozens of other groups that are blessed to play with him.

And then there’s Dave Liebman.....
LIEB to us in the fraternity of the music community. He is and has been for almost 50 years my oldest and best friend. THIS is the cat who has actually changed the state of the jazz world’s music and education scenarios. But his playing in Quest is in my opinion some of his best individual and group performing on record and live every nite as you can easily hear on these concert releases. His ability to really lead the music in its most creative and structurally spontaneous direction is legendary and is especially noticeable and necessary in the wild and rollercoaster ride that Quest displays when we are really rolling, which is almost all the time. I love his tenor and of course that cheap two dollar wooden flute that he probably bought on the side of the road in Morocco or India, wherever, which STILL no one can figure out just how he is able to coax all those notes on a true primitive little instrument. He can play real melodies in tune and amazingly chromatic lines on that little stick!! It is a true wonder, especially on his signature piece for that flute, Ornette’s “Lonely Woman.”

But the soprano sax.....let’s just say that along with Wayne S, he is at the highest level of excellence and creativity on that horn. He has transformed the soprano into an instrument capable of carrying the entire weight of a band with a personal view of the world and a singular contribution to the essence of the Quest sound. He has extended the range of the horn, up and down... ..not necessarily meaning higher or lower notes on the horn but I mean the SUBSTANCE of the sound he gets and the unusual and completely personal way he ARTICULATES those sounds. His phrasing.....well, I could and probably WILL eventually write a book just on Lieb’s innovative and plain mo’ fo’ brilliant/ hip phras- ing. Lieb has reached great heights of instrumental virtuosity and group creativity revealing not only many moments of incredible intensity, but also warm and sometimes heartbreaking passages of tender and sweet expression. This is especially true in tunes like “Elm” or “Tender Mercies”... and as well in his incredible solo soprano intros.

The bottom line is that his soprano is the group’s sword!! He is the guy you want leading the charge up the hill or covering your back. He is a great friend, a great musician and a great bandleader.

Quest is not over. You are holding in your hand our most recent children because every concert is a birth. We love to play with each other and for the people. I never did understand just why the Taliban or other authoritarian groups ban music, but now I know as a result of listening to these powerful and extremely EXPRESSIVE live concerts. It’s because the INDIVIDUAL expres- sion of each musician in the group comes across front and center. Fascists cannot STAND individual ANYTHING. It goes against their stone-age brutally inhumane way of controlling people by fear and death. What REALLY scares them is that it’s not just an individual expression but truly GROUP expression....remember that “group” means more than ONE person, like possibly FOUR people playing together along with many people LISTEN- ING with their hearts and minds OPEN. Music, when honestly presented is pure truth.

Get four more people and it’s a small insurgent group. Then it’s a quick leap to forty people with opened minds and hearts demanding their basic human rights. Quest is the quintessential enemy of any kind of bullshit, oppression or attempt at destroying the human spirit as evidenced in ANY good music. In this strange period of seemingly dwindling interest and support for truly new and powerful contemporary jazz, we hopefully can always count on people who love great music and continue to make Quest relevant and a great listening experience for years to come.


Notes by Richie Beirach
Edited by Dave Liebman
January 2016

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