Saxophonist Dave Liebman and pianist Richie Beirach present a 5CD box set: a true masterpiece. In duo, in individual performances on their instrument as well as in trio with world-class drummer Jack DeJohnette, the two protagonists captivate with fabulous improvisations. Empathy, as the album title suggests, is a harmonious balance of expansiveness and complexity, a series of sound worlds filled with clearly defined details, intimate moments of lightness and depth, surprises and sideshows, and plenty of space.
While drummer/composer John Hollenbeck chose to title his debut recording no images, what becomes clear quite quickly is that there is indeed a visual analogue to every piece on the album. In some cases the images are specific and concrete; in others they’re more impressionistic and subject to interpretation. One could even posit a visual counterpart for the two sets of completely abstract miniatures. But one of the most remarkable things about the disc – a long overdue documentation of one of New York’s most impressive contemporary musical artists (and best kept secrets) – is the sheer range and diversity of compositional strategies he employs to evoke his gallery of unseen imagery.