The College of Arts and Architecture

Dave Liebman Big Band

dave liebman big band
Sunday, October 8, 2017 - 6:00pm
Nittany Lion Inn Grand Ballroom

General public $20/faculty and staff $15/students $5. Tickets are available at the door. For more information, contact

The Penn State Jazz Educators Club, in cooperation with the University Park Allocation Committee (UPAC), will host jazz master Dave Liebman and the Dave Liebman Big Band during a special performance at the Nittany Lion Inn on Oct. 8 at 6:00 p.m.

Under the direction of Gunnar Mossblad, the Dave Liebman Big Band will be performing John Coltrane masterworks as part of a year-long commemoration to honor John Coltrane’s 90th birthday, Liebman’s 70th birthday, and the 50th anniversary of Coltrane’s death. Liebman, who will be playing soprano saxophone and wooden flute, with be joined by saxophonists Gunnar Mossblad, Charles Pillow, Dave Riekenberg, Tom Christensen and Jay Brandford. Trumpets/flugelhorns will be played by Bob Millikan, Brian Pareschi, Stuart Mack and Patrick Dorian. The trombonists include Tim Sessions, Scott Reeves, Sam Burtis and Jeff Nelson. The rhythm section features Jim Ridl on piano, Vic Juris on guitar, Tony Marino on bass, and Penn State’s director of jazz studies, Marko Marcinko, on drums.

The New York-based David Liebman Big Band (DLBB) under the direction of saxophonist Gunnar Mossblad is made up of some of New York’s most experienced and creative jazz musicians – performers who are recording artists in their own right. The DLBDave Liebman Big BandB features original compositions by Liebman, covering the various periods of his forty-plus year career. The arrangements, by such well-known artists as Vince Mendoza and Jim McNeely, feature Liebman out front on soprano saxophone. The band’s three releases: Beyond the Line (Omnitone); Live: As Always (Mama Records) and A Tribute To Wayne Shorter (Summit) have received critical acclaim. What makes the DLBB’s music interesting beyond the stellar performances is that each arrangement is by a different artist, therefore setting the stage for interesting stylistic contrasts in the repertoire, all reflecting the grand scale of Liebman’s eclectic tastes and skills.

Dave Liebman was awarded America’s highest jazz honor when he was named a National Endowment of the Arts Jazz Master in 2011. He has shown an ability to play in any style of jazz, especially on what has become his instrument of choice, the soprano sax. In addition, he has been a strong advocate of the music, having founded the International Association of Schools of Jazz (IASJ), an organization dedicated to bringing together educators and students from jazz schools worldwide.dave liebman

He began classical piano lessons at age 9, soon switching to saxophone. His interest in jazz was sparked especially by hearing John Coltrane perform in various New York City clubs. Throughout high school and college, Liebman continued playing jazz, learning “from the street” as was the way before jazz education was more common, though he did spend periods of time studying with Joe Allard, Lennie Tristano, and Charles Lloyd.

In the 1970s, Liebman came into his own, founding Free Life Communication, a cooperative of several dozen young musicians that became an integral part of the vibrant New York jazz scene. He soon found a spot as saxophonist/flutist in drummer Elvin Jones’ group, and then was hired by Miles Davis. Liebman played on Miles’ last two recordings before the trumpeter’s temporary retirement in the late 1970s, “Get Up with It” and “On the Corner.”

At the same time, Liebman was also exploring his own music, beginning a long relationship with pianist Richie Beirach in the group, Lookout Farm. In 1977, he toured internationally with pianist Chick Corea followed by forming the David Liebman Quintet, featuring guitarist John Scofield. In 1981, he founded Quest, a group that remained active with varying members until 1991 and has reunited in recent years. Since the early 1990s, he has led a quartet/quintet and in 2000 he founded the Dave Liebman Big Band under the direction of Gunnar Mossblad. His work has continued to move in many unusual directions, with projects ranging from Puccini arias to overdubbed solo recordings, from adaptations of jazz standards to world music and fusion. In all, it demonstrates Liebman’s insatiable curiosity and innovation.

Liebman’s work recording and touring with Coltrane colleagues Miles Davis and Elvin Jones, has earned him a spot among the world’s most respected Coltrane performers, scholars, and lecturers. His Grammy-nominated Big Band is comprised of top-shelf New York City musicians and has been recording and performing in major jazz performance spaces and universities around the United States since 2000. Almost all of the members of the Big Band have been with Liebman since 2000 or longer. Their exceptional career experiences are often presented in several formats in order to interact with and be beneficial to students. The members of the Big Band have extraordinary accomplishments, performing for decades with iconic performers such as Tito Puente, Barbra Streisand, the Count Basie Orchestra, the Bob Mintzer Big Band, Maynard Ferguson, and Woody Herman.