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Carol Liebowitz - Solo Pianist and Singer
Carol Liebowitz Quintet
Payne / Lindal / Liebowitz Trio



The Stone
— September 20, 2009
Review by Mark Weber 
(from Mark’s blog “9 Nights at The Stone, New York City”)

So, when Carol walked to the piano and sat down to play solo the only surprise that it was nothing short of great was: that it was one of the great solo piano recitals since Steinway shot his first elephant. It was outside the category of “great” or “good” and “best” it was phenomenal. The level of honesty and the huge leaps into meaningfulness that took place, not to mention just the great sounds she created. Even if she wasn’t playing stories and spinning lyric portraits for us, just the intriguing sounds she conjured out of that Yamaha were enough.... Somebody like Carol Liebowitz must have already had the germination of such ideas to have searched out Connie to be her teacher so many years ago. A case of the student being ready for the lesson.... Like those ancient philosophers who point out that your most beautiful self is already there from the beginning, that, because of the demands of modern life, it becomes layer’d and blanketed by our masks and our public persona.

Carol’s music this night was somewhat somber, though not melancholic or dark, it just seems related to the seriousness she finds in the music, and then, in turn, what the music tells her about herself. No, she’s not tearing her heart out and flogging it on stage. But, she is being completely open and honest. In a lot of ways it was my favorite concert of the series, it just completely knocked me over. [NOTE to Carol: please release this concert on CD.] We were watching a great spirit reveal herself in the great mysteries of life, and reverence and joy and wonder. The chords were like nothing I’ve ever heard, the cadences so complex and clear you felt like you were watching a master painter like Pissarro taking his canvas out for a spin.... Carol told stories with her music, and what an amazing left hand, wow. It quite simply was one of the greatest solo piano concerts I’ve ever witnessed, easily on the same level as Harvey Diamond’s of two nights previous. Easily on the same level of expression as the Horace Tapscott solo piano recitals of the 1980s (examples of which are found on Nimbus West Records). I had heard her two CDs on New Artists Records but had not heard her play solo before. My big dream is to present Carol, Virg, Kazzrie, and Connie, in Albuquerque, this town would love their music. Carol also makes extensive use of foot pedals. She’d have big cloud formations of dense gorgeous dissonant block chords (like Chris Kelsey says in his great blog review, something about the “dissonant” chords made them seem consonant) and then an abrupt halt and a little crystalline melody would shoot out as she builds another construction of harmony around it.... Carol would reference only briefly, in impressionistic wisps, faint echoes, whatever melody she had used as her departure. That old departure and return, as the classical world would have it. The only tune she announced, was “That was Lennie Tristano’s line ‘Leave Me’” that he wrote on “Love Me or Leave Me.” She chose not to sing this night, on purpose. The other tunes she used for launching were “Out of Nowhere” “What is This Thing Called Love” “How About You” and a few free shots. What is the logic Carol has figured out for these dense chords and how they ring so deep and true, and mostly how she has worked out chord movement, chord progressions, with these monsters, is truly a marvel. There must be inner notes stringing them together, whatever it is, it is pure pleasure to listen to.... She grew up in the Bronx, has lived her entire life in NYC. Earlier, while waiting for an F train she said that she meant to title one of her free improvisations after something Phil Schaap had played on his WKCR Bird Flight radio show that morning — ie. Barry Ulanov’s All-Star Modern Jazz Musicians, Sept. 20, 1947, Bird, Diz, Lennie, Max, Billy Bauer, et al. — that was exactly 52 years ago that day. Well, when she puts out the CD of this magnificent concert she can rectify that oversight.


Review by Chris Kelsey

...she doesn’t sound much like any­one but her­self. Her set con­sisted of a dozen-or-so short, freely impro­vised vignettes. She took care to con­trast each move­ment from the one before it, fol­low­ing loud with soft, busy with laconic. She made good use of par­al­lel har­monies; most of her play­ing was chordal, mak­ing her infre­quent use of sin­gle lines all the more strik­ing. Liebowitz’s con­so­nances were touched with dis­so­nance, and her dis­so­nances pos­sessed the clar­ity of a major triad. The indi­vid­ual pieces, as well as the con­cert itself, were mod­els of con­ci­sion. After each, Liebowitz would look up shyly, as if to cue the capac­ity audi­ence that she had fin­ished, though there was sel­dom any doubt, so well-constructed were her improvisations.

Waves of Blue Intensities

Waves of Blue Intensities
New Artists Records (NA1021CD)

“Liebowitz is a rhythmically sophisticated improviser who is unafraid of dissonance. . . . The juxtaposition of the new with the traditional is what this duo is all about. It’s an often fascinating combination.”
—Carl Baugher, Cadence

“. . . in Liebowitz’s vocal excursions, snippets of lyrics spine fine connecting threads to the original songs, but from there on the web takes on unpredictable designs.”
—Lois Moody, Jazz News

“Quite an unusual album, and one worth hearing.”
—Chris Kelsey, Jazz Now 

Time on My Hands

Time on My Hands
New Artists Records (NA1029CD)

“From the first chorus she bends the lyrics through her sweeping, melismatic improvisations. The impression is that Liebowitz is improvising the lyrics. This gives the poetry an urgent edge. I found myself hearing the lyrics afresh. 'Love Me or Leave Me' is emotionally wrenching in a way I’ve never heard it.”
—David Dupont, Cadence