Steuart Liebig Reviews From
Penguin Guide to Jazz, Volume 5
Bass guitarist based in California and recording in the Nine Winds community of West Coast improvisers and free-bop players
*** Hommages Obliques
***(*) Lingua Oscura
*** Pienso Oculto
***(*) No Train
We have been a while catching up with these records, but they're worth seeking out. Steuart Liebig plays what he call ContraBassguitars, getting a fluid, melodious sound that has plenty of air as well as boom to it. The three records by his Quartetto Stig are full of his own writing. Gauthier and Fumo are familiar from their own Nine Winds projects and, if this is a somewhat rarified instrumentation, it presents many opportunities for the four men (McCutchen, who subsequently died, was replaced by Morris after the first disc) to play within structure while still getting good improvising space. Liebig's tunes aren't terrifically memorable, mixing brief pieces with what are in some cases hugely long tracks, such as 'Commedia' and 'Overcoming Goingunder,' which seem to touch on all sorts on stylistic bases. Lingua Oscura might be our favourite of the three: 'Plums and Apricots Falling From the Sky' shows what they can do in a tiny episode, and the laments of 'Nef' and 'Coda,' in dedication to McCutchen, are played with great feeling.
No Train is more of a free-jazz blowout, with long-time mainstays of the area Golia and Mintz digging in alongside. With Golia concentrating on baritone for much of the way, the music has a great rumbling feel that should blow away a few cobwebs as is goes. Fine and hard-headed virtuosity.