David Liebman, Ellery Eskelin, Tony Marino, Jim Black - Renewal (Hat Hut, 2008) ****
As Ellery Eskelin writes on the liner notes, this is a real quartet album, with contributions coming from all four musicians, and all equally contributing to the overall sound. Ellery Eskelin and David Liebman play tenor sax, Tony Marino bass and Jim Black drums. The music is excellent, composed, yet open and free, not really boppish, rather post-bop, but then a tad more free. So how can I describe this : lots of references to the jazz tradition, lots of interesting new angles and takes. Whatever the subgenre, this is great jazz from beginning to end. What I like most is the space they create, despite the clearly composed tracks. This music is never crowded, never in-your-face, yet it grabs the attention because of its inventiveness, both in the composed parts as in the improvisational interplay. But the best part is the musicianship itself. Listen to the mastery of the instruments, the mastery of timing and pacing, the pitch, the subtle use of power or subduedness where necessary. In short, high quality jazz.