The opening Libertino, a typically light-stepping Sheppard melody, somehow manages to create the idea of a witty lament. Wispy tenor-sax fragments turn into quiet snare-drum tattoos peppered with sonorous tom-tom accents. A single standard (I'm Always Chasing Rainbows) is a Jan Garbarek-like soprano sax drifter quietly prodded and pulled by Benita's bass. The long-note and bowed-bass Spacewalk Parts 1 and 2 have a pristine, shivery beauty, and the closing When We Live on the Stars has a slow and sonorous pop song quality. It's low-key, but glowing with life.
John Fordham. The Guardian
Saxophonist Sheppard´s chirpy tone and improvisatory alertness have made him a master of his trade for years but this co-op trio with bassist Benita and drummer Rochford - who strokes skins in the intensely musical manner of Paul Motian - puts him on a whole new level. All contribute material, and there´s a lovely, oblique version of "I´m always Chasing Rainbows", but the entire album is suffused with a spacious, questing feel that begs for further development in live performance.
Phil Johnson, The Independent
This is an album of stately elegance and beauty. Featuring 13 tunes over its 51-minute length, it flows gracefully from one track to the next. Balance and poise in this context are everything for this is music that unfolds before you rather than grabs at your attention. [...] It's the subtlety of the interplay and sense of freedom that this record exudes that makes it so special. It's rich in colours of autumn and winter, at times austere but never gloomy, while on occasions the warmth of spring hints at renewal. A truly gorgeous piece of music-making.
Duncan Heining, Jazzwise
Pensive saxophone, ruminative bass and occasional cymbal splashes combine to conjure the gentle ripples of a pleasant backwater on a summer’s day. Andy Sheppard delivers stately themes with a breathy tone, bassist Michel Benita adds counterpoints and drones and Seb Rochford decorates each line with well-timed brushstrokes and exquisite control. Each track is a delight of swaying tempos, unresolved tensions and subtle textures […].
Mike Hobart, Financial Times
Bass und Schlagzeug wirken gemeinsam wie eine Bassflöte, deren tiefes Atmen sich um die weichen Linien des Saxofons legt. Eine ungeheuer menschliche Seelenmusik.
Wolf Kampmann, Eclipsed
Andy Sheppard first sequestered himself for four days with Michel Benita and Sebastian Rochford, improvising together and recording everything. Sheppard has said, ‘We seemed to be able to improvise virtually complete tunes.’ He worked on editing and harmonizing the material, and used much of it two years later for this album, the trio’s ECM debut.
This backstory is relevant because it illuminates their creative process. As Sheppard describes it: ‘Improvise, write it down, develop it, then replay the tune with fresh improvisation.’
ECM is the word headquarters for ‘spontaneous composition’. This ensemble goes further because their spontaneous compositions are run through twice: refined, recomposed, and reimagined. Every piece here is a concise, elegant, self-contained song.
Thomas Conrad, Stereophile
This mix of spontaneity and familiarity infuses everything the trio play with improvisational tension, each player clearly having a firm grasp on the outline of each pieace, but able to plot his own highly distinctive and original path within it. The resultant music incorporates not only Sheppard´s great strengths - a sure ear for an affecting melody, a sculptural approach to his saxophones´ sound, an ability to move seamlessly between freedom and structure - but also Benita´s extraordinary versatility and Rochford´s uncanny ability to choose precisely the right cymbal/skin stroke to push the music along and subtly embellish the band sound. The overall effect will perhaps remind many ECM aficionados of Paul Motian´s various albums for the label, but Trio Liebero´s strength comes from the grace and elegance with which three utterly distincitve talents have been able to gel to form a unit that consistently lives up to its name.
Chris Parker, London Jazz
Der englische Saxofonist Andy Sheppard. Sein Schlagzeug spielender Landsmann Sebastian Rochford und der französische Bassist Michel Benita nennen sich Trio Libero und machen als solches eine sehr zarte, sehnsuchtsvolle, ätherische, luftige und trotzdem kompakte Musik, in der die Melodien wunderbar klar im Raum stehen.
Ssirus W. Pakzad, Musikmarkt