Guitarist, composer, and bandleader Liberty Ellman was born in London, and raised in both New York and the San Francisco Bay-Area. The product of a musical family, Liberty had a guitar in his hands by age 5. At 13 Liberty realized the treasures in his family's LP collection, discovering artists from John Coltrane and Miles Davis, to Ravi Shankar, and Robert Johnson, cementing his passion for music and improvisation, leading to long nights of listening, studying and then ultimately, performing professionally at 17.
During and after his university years, Liberty developed his craft in San Francisco. He played scores of jazz gigs, recorded on 3 albums with pianist Vijay Iyer, worked with Hip-Hop groups Midnight Voices and the Coup, performed and recorded with innovative Koto artist Miya Masaoka, recorded his acclaimed CD, "Orthodoxy" (Red Giant), and had the privilege of performing with alto saxophonist Steve Coleman in the first incarnation of Mystic Rhythm Society.
In 1998, Liberty returned to New York and immersed himself in a vital music community. Before long, thanks to hard work and some good fortune, he was asked to contribute his talents to performances and recordings with forward thinking musicians like Greg Osby, Henry Threadgill, and the pioneer of Conduction, Lawrence "Butch" Morris. His contribution to Mr. Threadgill¹s CD ³Up Popped The Two Lips² (Pi Recordings, 2001) has been acknowledged by critics worldwide.
Some of the other musicians Liberty has had the pleasure of working with include Oliver Lake, Bob Stewart, Steven Bernstein, Josh Roseman, Drew Gress, Reid Anderson, JT Lewis, Peter Apfelbaum, Barney McCall, Lonnie Plaxico, Nasheet Waits, Jason Moran, Craig Tayborn, François Moutin, and Rudresh Mahanthappa.
The Liberty Ellman Quartet is powered by the rhythm section of Derrek
Phillips (seen with Dave Douglas, Jason Moran) on drums and Stephan Crump (seen with Bobby Previte, Sonny Fortune) on bass, who have been working together with Liberty for 3 years. The marvelous Mark Shim (David Murray, Betty Carter) plays tenor saxophone, blending and complimenting creatively and sonically with Liberty¹s unique guitar work. The band features original compositions inspired by the jazz tradition in the exploration of rhythm, melody and harmony, drawing on modern composition concepts and polyrhythmic structures, always delivered with the intent of resonating with the audience.
As a point of reference, Liberty's musical inspiration comes from legendary innovators like Monk, Miles, Andrew Hill, Ellington, Bartok, and modern artists like Bjork, Squarepusher and Radiohead - artists who relentlessly search for new textures and find imaginative ways to work with a group.
WHAT THE LISTENERS SAY ABOUT LIBERTY ELLMAN:
"I really liked it. I need to check this guy out! 5 stars." -- Bill Frisell, Blindfold test in Down Beat
"One get the sense of a relaxed, grounded talent at work." -- Ben Ratliff, New York Times
"He's got one of the contemporary scene's most singular approaches to the modern guitar lingo." -- Jim Macnie, The Village Voice
"Word has definitely been circulating about his gifts..." -- K. Leander Williams, Time Out, New York
"..the gifted Ellman broache[s] a thoughtful lyricism with touches of Django. The guitarist is remarkably quick on his feet; he examines the rhythmic turf, thinks his phrases, and within a few bars finds a groove." -- Gary Giddins, The Village Voice