Last Call CD of the Month: Dave Liebman/Joe Lovano/Compassion: The Music of John Coltrane/Resonance

Aug 1, 2017

2017 marks fifty years since the great saxophonist John Coltrane, one of the most important saxophonists, bandleaders, composers and sidemen in all of jazz history, passed into Eternity on July 17, 1967.  And many jazz artists have sought to sustain Coltrane's legacy for future generations. Two of the finest of them are Dave Liebman and Joe Lovano, saxophone masters in their own right. Together with pianist Phil Markowitz, bassist Ron McClure and drummer Billy Hart they are featured on a superb new release on Resonance records, Compassion: The Music of John Coltrane.

This session was recorded in June 2007 for the BBC Radio 3's Jazz on 3.  In the record vaults for some time, Resonance records is releasing this noteworthy date of six songs along with a 24-page book of photos, essays and interviews with Dave Liebman, Joe Lovano and Billy Hart.

For this recording, music from all of the legendary saxophonist's musical periods have been presented by this group of ardent students of the Coltrane legacy.  "Each period represents such a different outlook and concept that it's incredible to imagine that one man accomplished all of this in such a short period," David Liebman says in the liner notes to Compassion. And fans of John Coltrane will be pleased by this presentation of highlights from the career of John Coltrane, running from his hard bop roots to the spiritually fueled music of his late career.

Highlights of the disc include "Locomotion", a song that made its first appearance on the John Coltrane recording Blue Train, and is given a brilliant reading by the band.  The spanish-tinged "Olé" is also included, reflecting Coltrane's interest in world music.  Beginning with an almost contemplative flute statement the piece evolves into a festive piece where Lovano and Liebman ascend to bold heights of improvisation. And in contrast blues-based material returns on an excellent reading of  "Equinox".

For the title track, "Compassion", Billy Hart starts off the piece with a fantastic drum solo before the rest of the band joins in on a free jazz flight of inspired, roof-raising intensity. The tune "Compassion" originally appeared on the John Coltrane recording Meditations, the follow up to Coltrane's masterwork, A Love Supreme. Meditations presented a spiritually empowered set list, including Coltrane's direct confession of the existence of God, "The Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost".

Dave Liebman and Joe Lovano are no strangers to tributes to John Coltrane. Previous to Compassion they were involved in "Saxophone Summit" a band which created two very compelling salutes to Coltrane's music .  Additionally the use of flutes, wooden recorder and aulochrome in addition to saxophones by Liebman and Lovano opens up a whole new world of sound colors to relish and enjoy.  This writer has seen Dave Liebman and Joe Lovano perform in person, and this recording is the next best thing to seeing them in a live performance. Compassion's six selections present a truly heartfelt and richly rewarding tribute to John Coltrane.

Listen to an interview with Dave Liebman

For more information, you may visit