THE STORY OF THE SAXOPHONE SUMMIT by Dave Liebman
The Saxophone Summit is unprecedented. It features three of the most influential saxophonists of the past several decades teamed up with a rhythm section of extraordinary experience and skill. Musical situations like this are a rarity. Speaking for myself, to be part of such a group is something very special that I would like to share with interested readers and listeners.
The past several decades has seen an unprecedented wave of young players entering the fray as compared to previously. This is a natural result of the formalization of jazz at the university and conservatory level which has grown phenomenally worldwide. For the members of the Saxophone Summit whose formative years revert back for the most part to the 1950s and '60s our education was acquired by onsite training. We developed in the same era, a period rich in innovation and change both culturally as well as musically. Shared memories are a strong force, even more so as years pass. This group represents that principle in dramatic terms. Besides the obvious musical skills of the personnel, it is the commonality of vocabulary and experiences which are the major contributing factors influencing the group's sound. As well, a list of the artists that this group of musicians has toured and recorded with constitutes a history of modern music in the second half of the twentieth century. On a personal level some of the musical connections in the group began over thirty years ago.
The Summit grew out of a concert in Japan called "Live By The Sea" in 1997, which was a commemoration of a concert done ten years earlier in Tokyo called "Live Under The Sky". At that first concert, as a celebration of the twentieth anniversary of John Coltrane's passing, I participated in a set featuring Coltrane music which included Wayne Shorter, Eddie Gomez, Jack DeJonette and Richie Beirach. The subsequent DVD and recording of that concert has found its way around the world gaining notoriety in jazz circles.