Lars [Møller] was one of my first students in Europe, meeting in Copenhagen in the mid ‘80s at a workshop. I remember handing out an assignment to transcribe something according to my quite detailed method.
Returning the next year, sure enough Lars did what I asked and more. I think it was Coltrane and Sonny Rollins that he transcribed back to back over the two years. I could see then here was a serious dude. We became friends and I even hung with his family, convincing them that Lars needed to go to New York, Well, not only did he go through the course at the New School, but also he got to work with a true master on more than one occasion, drummer Jimmy Cobb. Finally, there were Lars’ Indian trips. One of the things I emphasize when I talk about artistic evolution is that when you have done your WORK up to a certain level of proficiency, then you must look outside the jazz box, into something else to inspire and enable you to bring back something of value to in this case, jazz. His studies in India on the shenai, tapes of which I have and use to motivate others, were great and really influenced his tenor playing through all the quartertones and so forth one hears in the Indian idiom. Lars was prepared to find his own voice, which he did subsequently as a performer and especially composer/arranger. Through the years, we would meet and at times play together so I could see the path that he was following. To say I am proud of him would be a gross understatement!
This project is absolutely one of the most exciting big band projects I have taken part in. There is a palpable sense of drama throughout…true story telling. The way Lars integrated concepts from Stravinsky and transformed them, especially rhythmically and harmonically, is incredible. He made the piece his own and to be honest he used me absolutely in the right contexts. Like Duke and all the great arrangers, when you have a stylist as the main soloist, you have to figure out the best place for that individual’s voice to be effective towards finding the right balance with the ensemble. Lars figured it out beautifully while the band excelled technically and musically. The idea of a studio and live version is really interesting and shows an artistic consideration that is rare these days in our business. My compliments to the producers for having a vision.
I want to thank Lars, Marilyn, Christian Munch-Hansen for his fantastic liner notes, the band and all the people associated with the project for their support and excellent, professional work. Great project!!
David Liebman, May 2015, Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, USA