NEA Jazz Master Dave Liebman

by CT Konieczny

David Liebman is considered a renaissance man in contemporary music with a career stretching nearly fifty years. He has played with masters including Miles Davis, Elvin Jones, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, McCoy Tyner and others; authored books and instructional DVDs which are acknowledged as classics in the jazz field; recorded as a leader in styles ranging from classical to rock to free jazz. He has performed on over 500 recordings with over 200 as a leader/co-leader featuring several hundred original compositions.

“Liebman is among the most important saxophonists in contemporary music . .     a leader and artist of integrity and independent direction.” Downbeat Magazine

“While others of his ‘60s generation have fallen off their ambition, Liebman has remained dogged about composition and trying different styles…he’s a fighter.” Ben Ratliff, NY Times

“The confidence that Dave Liebman shows in the chemistry of his musicians is justified and each hearing reveals new facets of these musical gems.” Ken Dryden, NYC Jazz Record


Private Teaching





  • 2016: Education Update Distinguished Leader in Education
  • 2015: Jazz Ed Magazine Reader’s Poll Winner- Soprano Saxophone 
  • 2013: Jazz Educators Network (JEN) Legends of Jazz
  • 2011: National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Masters of Jazz
  • 2011: First place Soprano Sax category Jazz Times and Downbeat Critics’s Poll
  • 2011: DL Group – Best Live Performance All About Jazz and NY Jazz
  • 2010: Jazz Man of the Year – All About Jazz, New York City
  • 2010: Best Record of The Year-German Jazz Critics for Turnaround – Liebman Group Plays the Music of Ornette Coleman
  • 2009: Order of Arts and Letters from the French government
  • 2007: Jazz Journalist’s Award for Best Soprano Sax
  • 2005: Pennsylvania Council of the Arts Grant to individual artists
  • 2004: Grammy nomination for performance of Jim McNeely’s arrangement of “Sing, Sing, Sing”, from Beyond The Line – Dave Liebman Big Band (Omnitone)
  • 2001: Fred Waring Award from Celebration of the Arts, which organizes a yearly festival in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania where Liebman resides for outstanding contributions to the arts and community
  • 2000: Inducted into the Hall of Fame of the International Association of Jazz Educators for contributions to jazz pedagogy
  • 1998: Grammy nomination in the category of Best Jazz Solo for the recording of “My Favorite Things” from Thank You, John (Arkadia Records)
  • 1997: Honorary Doctorate of Music from the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland; the first ever given to a jazz artist
  • 1991: National Endowment of the Arts grant for performance
  • 1988: Record of the Year from the French Jazz Academy for Homage to Coltrane (Owl Records)
  • 1981: National Endowment of the Arts grant for composition

Newest Release from Sunnyside: Masters in Bordeaux with Martial Solal

The meeting of two musical giants is a pretty common thing these days. Far more uncommon is the first collaboration of two musicians from different generations and continents. That is precisely what is so unique and wonderful about the recent partnership of French piano legend Martial Solal and American saxophone giant Dave Liebman and their new recording, Masters In Bordeaux.


The set is all standards, but not a predictable note can be heard. These two masters are as spontaneous as can be, freewheeling and in the moment, the unique blending of the  genius of their disparate artistries on full display.    
-All About Jazz

New Release on Resonance- Dave Liebman/Joe Lovano- Compassion: The Music of John Coltrane

Recorded a decade ago at the legendary Clinton Recording Studios in NYC for the BBC Radio 3 show Jazz on 3, produced by Somethin’ Else, the newly revealed session commemorates the semi-centennial of Coltrane’s passing on July 17, 1967 with a seven-tune repertoire that covers each significant creative stage of Coltrane’s recorded legacy. Compassion is Resonance’s follow-up release to the acclaimed John Coltrane recording Offering: Live at Temple University from 2014, which featured Grammy Award- winning liner notes by Ashley Kahn.

It was in late June 2007 that NEA Jazz Master Dave Liebman received a call from Robert Abel, Managing Partner of the UK creative agency Somethin’ Else, to produce a show for the BBC Radio 3’s popular program Jazz on 3. Noting that July 17, 2007 marked the 40th anniversary of John Coltrane’s passing, Robert asked if Dave could bring in a group to record some Coltrane tunes. Partnering with Lieb’s co-leader  from Saxophone Summit, the two were able to procure bassist Ron McClure, drummer Billy Hart and pianist Phil Markowitz. Recorded on June 22, 2007, almost forty years to the day after John Coltrane’s death, the quintet laid down 50+ fascinating minutes of music that showcases the breadth of John Coltrane’s art. 


This is a heartfelt, inspired session by a group of artists clearly shaped and influenced by Coltrane and dedicated to carrying on his musical legacy. Half a century after his death, this recording serves as a reminder that the music of John Coltrane remains relevant, vital and very much alive.”
“What emerges here is less a collection of licks learned than a lesson in how to take Coltrane’s improvisational and compositional approach and use them for something  utterly fresh and personal”
“You could fairly call Compassion: The Music of John Coltrane a labor of love. Also obsession, and solidarity, and communal ritual.”
WBGO-Nate Chinen
“The full breadth of the short-lived Coltrane’s legacy is rarely celebrated so authoritatively and completely.”
“Compassion is the best John Coltrane tribute of the last ten or twenty years.”
“This is music to be enjoyed wide-eyed or – better still – with eyes tightly shut as one is sucked into the vortex of John Coltrane’s music. Either way it is music to die for.”

Saxophone Masterclass

In 1989 I made a video titled “The Complete Guide to Saxophone Sound Production” explaining the principles of playing the horn. This new DVD set (five hours) shot at Roberto’s Saxophone Shop in New York (2015) with students present is a complete update of all my teaching materials on the subject.

Available through

Describing The Jazz Moment by Dave Liebman “Le Roi Du Monde”

by Naoki Hayashi

What does it feel like when you are in the vortex, the eye of the hurricane? To me it is aptly put by the French; you are (at least temporarily) “Le Roi Du Monde.”  For those moments when I (as a horn player) am playing in front of a good rhythm section, I am simply “the king of the world”–everything is perfect!! One is in complete control; you can do whatever you want within that space inhabited at the moment. You are truly the master of the universe…not the cliche.. the real deal! Getting to that place takes years of experience and observing those who are ahead of you on line. There is a confidence, an unseen swagger, an assertiveness (even if the music is gentle). It’s so good that all you want is to repeat it… like a junkie…hooked forever.

George Carlin, one of the all time great comedians and observers of the human condition in his autobiography (Last Words) describes the feeling I’m referring to:

“There is nothing happening in the universe outside of that reality and that experience. When besides that I’m being rewarded with all this approval, attention, approbation for something that is solely mine and only I can do. There can’t be anything better than that. To be intensely alone, intensely myself, in control of everything, the center of a self created universe.”

(For more on this subject go to the Education tab; Educational articles;Miscellaneous; “Concerning Entering The “Zone.”)


David Liebman proposal as a motivational speaker:

“I have a story to share with people that I call “Seeing The Light.” It begins with contracting polio as a child, which seemed to set the course of my future in one direction, only to be changed by a pivotal event that ultimately redirected my life’s work. It is a universal story for all people concerning how an extremely powerful and personal experience, once realized, can become a catalyst for change and direction in one’s life.”