Recordings is proud to release Tactiles, the second album by Liberty
Ellman, one of New York's most imaginative and unorthodox
guitarist/composers. Tactiles follows up the critically acclaimed
Orthodoxy, which Ellman released in 1998 on his own Red Giant label.
Featuring Mark Shim on tenor saxophone, Stephan Crump on bass, and Eric
Harland on drums, Tactiles documents sounds and concepts that have been
gestating since Ellman returned to his native New York from the Bay
Area in 1998.
is Ellman's second appearance on Seth Rosner's innovative Pi
label - the first being Up Popped the Two Lips by Henry Threadgill's
acoustic band ZOOID. With Tactiles, Ellman joins the ranks of such
esteemed innovators as Threadgill, Roscoe Mitchell, and Wadada Leo
Smith as a Pi recording artist.
relocating to New York, Ellman has performed extensively with his
own trio and quartet, with Crump and Shim as charter members. He has
also gained wide-ranging experience as a sideman with some of jazz's
most adventurous and least categorizable thinkers, including Greg Osby,
Henry Threadgill, Steven Bernstein, and Lawrence "Butch" Morris. On
Tactiles we feel the pull of these diverse influences in Ellman's
spiky, unpredictable lines, his arid and suggestive harmonies, and his
complex yet infectious rhythms. We also hear Osby's distinctive alto
sax on three tracks: the majestic ballad "Temporary Aid," the midtempo
funk riddle "How Many Texts," and the furiously swinging "Ultraviolet."
employs a clean, unadorned sound on Tactiles, achieving rich
timbral contrasts and an alluring sonic blend with Mark Shim's weighty,
gruff tenor sax. Interestingly, both Ellman and Shim make extensive use
of the lower registers of their respective instruments. "I like a warm,
clear sound," says Ellman, "one that allows you to hear the quality of
the strings and the wood of the instrument, but not too pristine. I
still prefer to hear the grit of a vintage tube amp."
and Harland flourish within Ellman's intricate rhythmic
frameworks on pieces such as "Excavation," "Helios," and "Post
Approval." In these workouts, Ellman crafts a dense polyrhythmic
language and focuses the heated interaction with his undulating
single-note lines and cliché-free chording. "With this record,"
explains, "I wanted to be as direct as possible, making music that has
a visceral, almost physical quality. Hence the title, Tactiles."
in London in 1971, Ellman lived his earliest years in New York but
spent his adolescence and most of his 20s in the Bay Area, emerging
with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from the California State
University at Sonoma. During his West Coast stint Ellman formed deep,
lasting relationships with the celebrated pianist Vijay Iyer, the fiery
altoist Rudresh Mahanthappa, and a close-knit circle of other
like-minded players, most of whom have since moved to New York as well.
Along the way Ellman founded Red Giant Records and released his debut
recording, Orthodoxy, along with well-received albums by Iyer (Panoptic
Modes, Architextures), Mahanthappa (Black Water), and other colleagues.
a touring member of the Tony Award-winning San Francisco Mime Troupe
and the hip-hop group Midnight Voices (featuring MC Will Power), Ellman
has made significant contributions to artistic idioms beyond jazz. He
has also performed and recorded with innovative koto artist Miya
Masaoka, scored the 30th anniversary production of Sam Sheppard's "True
West" at the Magic Theater, and participated in the first incarnation
of Steve Coleman's Mystic Rhythm Society.
Ellman is influenced by an array
of guitar greats: Grant Green, Wes
Montgomery, Ali Farka Toure, and Jimi Hendrix, among others. His
greatest musical inspiration comes from conceptual innovators, true
artists like Monk, Miles, Bartók, or Björk, who search for
in their music, and find beautiful ways to prove their progress.
Ultimately, Ellman seeks to broaden the already deep musical and social
history of his instrument with an evocation of the creative streams of
his generation. Tactiles, like Orthodoxy before it, is an important
step toward that lofty but entirely realistic goal.
"... absorbing, challenging music from a guitarist who, like his peers
Jeff Parker and Ben Monder, is keen on avoiding cliche. Definitely a
name to watch."
"With his new CD
'Tactiles' Liberty Ellman emerges as one of the most intriguing, albeit
unorthodox, guitarists on the New York scene today. An album of
original, esoteric compositions marked by dense polyrhythms, dissonant,
angular lines and an organic logic that ties the whole thing together
in brilliant fashion..."
-- Bill Milkowski, JAZZ TIMES
clear, sharp tone recalling Grant Green, Ellman forges an imaginative
style that--in the tradition of such great innovators as
Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk--is at once modern and classic."
Adam Pearlmutter - GUITAR ONE
guitarist cut from
neither of the cookie cutters that produced legions of note-happy
virtuosos and techno-geek fusioneers, Ellman shows his stuff as player
and composer on a new CD with Greg Osby and
Mark Shim that could make a lot of year-end lists."
-- Gary Giddins, THE VILLAGE VOICE
(October 15, 2003
Liberty Ellman is much enamored of intricate melodies, and it shows on
his satisfying new disc, 'Tactiles.' His compositions are snaky without
being impenetrable, which is why his quartet sounds so relaxed and
traditional even as it tackles rhythms and soundscapes that move well
-- K. Leander Williams, TIME OUT NEW
YORK (October 23, 2003)