The concert started with the song "This Is Not America" composed by Metheny, Mays and Bowie, a very melancholy mood set in, with Carla Bley leading a piano introduction, an up-tempo rhythm followed and the tunes feel transitioned to one of promise and hope. The first solo, an alto saxophone feature by Miguel Zenon, who was blowing smooth, however sounding a little tentative at the start of the show, as the concert progressed Zenon’s solos would become the high point, as he let fly with inspirational playing at every opportunity. Tuba player Joe Daley was up next, he blew hot and seemed to be the connection for the others to follow, as the musicians seemed more relaxed after Daly’ solo.
The band would play many of the songs from the Not In Our Name CD including the title track. They played "Blue Anthem" in such a remorseful manner you could just envision the caskets arriving home from war torn mid-east lands. Some very moody tenor saxophone playing contributed to this feel and managed to lay the groundwork for Charlie Haden to play a heartfelt bass solo as a communiqué on the injustice of the world, or so it seemed. The orchestra performed "America The Beautiful" as a medley, featuring the only sousaphone solo that I have ever witnessed an amazing instrument of elephantine proportions that Joe Daley seems to manipulate with ease. This segment of the show also featured a Matt Wilson solo that was close to a note for note rendition of his solo on the CD, repeated a couple of times for good measure. A staccato like, free wheeling approach to a drummer’s lament with ostinato phrasing and a militaristic sounding machine of rolling thunder.
"Amazing Grace" and "Going Home" capped off the evening in fine fashion, staying close to the theme of "America The Beautiful" the performance featured excellent playing by all the members of the orchestra. Carla Bley was content to let the musicians go with the flow, her conducting was minimal, her playing was passionate, at times she seemed possessed, head bowed down low and arms reaching up high to fall upon the keys and fire off notes of serenity and chords of power.
An appreciative Guelph audience cheered for an encore, Charlie Haden, Carla Bley and the Liberation Music Orchestra delivered upon the request and put forth a liberating musical performance.
Liberation Music Orchestra: Chris Cheek, Tony Malaby, Miguel Zenon (saxophone), Michael Rodriguez, Seneca Black (trumpet), Curtis Fowlkes (trombone), Vincent Chancey (French horn), Joe Daley (tuba) Steve Cardenas (guitar), Matt Wilson (drums), Charlie Haden (bass), Carla Bley (piano)