David Liebman was born in Brooklyn, New York on September 4, 1946. He began classical piano lessons at the age of nine and saxophone by twelve. His interest in Jazz was sparked by seeing John Coltrane perform live in New York City clubs such as Birdland, the Village Vanguard and the Half
Note. Throughout high school and college, Liebman pursued his Jazz interest by studying with Joe Allard, Lennie Tristano and Charles Lloyd as well as taking a leading role in organizing musicians into a cooperative, Free Life Communication - all part of the lively New York "loft" Jazz scene.
Upon graduation from New York University (with a degree in American History), he began to seriously devote himself to the full time pursuit of being a Jazz artist.
After some time spent with Ten Wheel Drive, one of the early Jazz fusion groups, Liebman secured the saxophone/flute position with the group of legendary Coltrane drummer Elvin Jones. Within two years, Liebman reached the zenith of his apprenticeship period when Miles Davis hired him.
These years, 1970-74, were filled with tours, recordings and the incredible experience gained by being on the bandstand with two masters of Jazz. At the same time, Liebman began exploring his own music-first in the Open Sky Trio with Bob Moses and then with Richie Beirach in Lookout Farm. This
group recorded for the German based ECM label as well as A&M/Horizon and toured India, Japan and Europe. In the U.S., Lookout Farm was recognized as number one in the category Group Deserving of Wider Recognition in the 1976 'DownBeat' International Critics' Poll.
In 1977, Liebman did a world tour with Chick Corea and by 1978 formed the David Liebman Quintet with John Scofield, Kenny Kirkland and Terumasa Hino as featured sidemen. After several world tours and recordings by the quintet over three years, he reunited with Richard Beirach. They began
performing and recording as a duo, as well as forming the group Quest, in 1981. Beginning with George Mraz and Al Foster, the group solidified in 1984 when Ron McClure joined on bass and Billy Hart on drums. Through 1991, Quest recorded seven CDs, toured extensively and did many workshops with students worldwide.
In the 1990s, the Dave Liebman Group, with Phil Markowitz on keyboards, Vic Juris on guitar, Jamey Haddad on drums and Tony Marino on bass recorded several CDs, toured Europe, Japan and Israel and pursued a very eclectic, contemporary style. As of late 1997, the Dave Liebman Group became a
quartet with Juris, Haddad and Marino and continues to tour, record and give master
Over the past several decades, Liebman has often been featured with top European musicians such as Joachim Kuhn, Daniel Humair, Paolo Fresu, Jon Christensen and Bobo Stenson. Throughout the past few years, Lieb has been recording for the French Label Bleu and performing with Austrian drummer
Wolfgang Reisenger and French bassist Jean-Paul Celea. His reputation in Europe has led to big band and radio orchestra performances, such as with the WDR in Koln, the new music group "Klang Forum" in Vienna, Austria, and in 2001 will be featured with the Metropole Orchestra in Holland, playing
music especially written to feature Liebman's soprano saxophone style. He has consistently placed in the top five of the 'DownBeat' Critics' Poll since 1973.
Liebman has had several books published on a variety of subjects, has
released instructional videos, published chamber music and contributed
regularly to various periodicals such as the "Saxophone Journal" and the
"Jazz Educatorsí Journal." His teaching activities at universities and in clinic settings have
taken him literally around the world, primarily because of his varied musical interests, expertise on several instruments and ability to articulate the intricacies of the Jazz language and technique.
Over the years, students have regularly received grants to study with
him from the NEA (U.S.), the Canadian Arts Council, and Arts Councils of
numerous countries. Liebman himself has received two NEA grants, for composition (1980) and performance (1991). In 1989, he founded the International Association of Schools of Jazz, an organization dedicated to networking educators and students from international Jazz schools through periodic meetings, exchange programs and newsletters.
In 1997, Liebman received an Honorary Doctorate of Music from the prestigious Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland. In 1998, Liebman was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Jazz
Solo for the recording of 'My Favorite Things' from 'Thank You, John' (Arkadia). In 2000, Liebman was inducted into the Hall of Fame of The International Association of Jazz Educators for his contributions to Jazz pedagogy. David Liebman has recorded over 75 CDs and albums under his own
leadership and co-leadership as well as being a featured sideman on over 150 more. Well
over 200 original compositions have been recorded. His artistic output has ranged from straight ahead to chamber Jazz; from fusion to avant garde. This diversity has always been marked by its conviction, singular approach and a sense of adventure highly valued in Liebman's aesthetic.