27 Tenor Titans – More Fabulous Playing From Joe Lovano

Joe Lovano

For almost forty years, as Joe Lovano has been growing as an artist, he has produced a series of discs as a leader in a wide range of formats from duos and trios to nonets, dectets and large ensembles. Always in demand, his guest appearances on other leaders’ dates have produced some of his best work. This is the third of four programs featuring today’s Tenor Titans – highlights of Joe Lovano’s diverse work in the past decade in this hour of Jazz at 100 Today!

Bob and Hard Bop Tributes
Bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade have anchored Wayne Shorter’s quartet for almost twenty years, and while working with a long list of top-flight players, their first trio collaboration with Joe Lovano was on Patitucci’s 2009 release Remembrance. Many of the selections on the disc paid tribute to jazz heroes, including Blues For Freddie, honoring Freddie Hubbard who had recently passed as the disc was in preparation.

Lovano recorded three discs with a band called Us Five, featuring James Weidman on piano, Esperanza Spalding on bass and dual drummers, Otis Brown III and Francisco Mela. The most recent of these efforts, 2013’s Cross Culture, includes Lovano’s name check on one of the most important clubs of the bebop era, Royal Roost, in a tune that illustrates why he has such a strong reputation as a leading improver on his horn.

Blues For Freddie. John Patitucci Trio
(Joe Lovano-ts/acl, John Patitucci-b, Brian Blade-d). From Remembrance. Concord Music Group. 2009
Royal Roost. Joe Lovano Us Five
(Joe Lovano-ts, James Weidman-p, Peter Slavov-b, Otis Brown III-d, Francisco Mela-d/whistle/balafon). From Cross Culture. Blue Note. 2013.

Collaborations with Guitarists John Abercrombie and John Scofield
For his 2014 disc, Within a Song, guitarist John Abercrombie added Joe Lovano to his trio with bassist Drew Gress and drummer Joey Baron. Writing on AllAboutJazz of the quartet’s look at Ornette Coleman’s Blues Connotation from his 1961 disc This is Our Music, John Kelman wrote that it moves “… effortlessly from time and changes to greater freedom, only to find its way back, mid-song, for Lovano’s ambling but effervescent solo.”

Lovano recorded with another great guitarist, John Scoffield, in a 1991 quartet with bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Bill Stewart that released the disc Meant To Be. Scofield’s 2015 disc Past Present represents a return to that format with Lovano and Stewart, this time with Larry Grenadier of the Brad Mehldau Trio on bass.

Blues Connotation. John Abercrombie Quartet
(Joe Lovano-ts, John Abercrombie-g, Drew Gress-b, Joey Baron-d). From Within A Song. ECM. 2014
Season Creep. John Scofield Quartet
(Joe Lovano-ts, John Scofield-g, Larry Grenadier-b, Bill Stewart-d). From Past Present. Impulse. 2015

Collaborations with Pianists Marilyn Crispell and Eliane Elias
Joe Lovano returned to the trio format in 2018 to record Trio Tapestry with pianist Marilyn Crispell and percussionist Carmen Castaldi. Mike Jurkovic wrote, “Long connected as Crispell and Lovano are by their ties to the late Paul Motian, it’s no small wonder they become two seeking, monk-like voices here … No bassist appears on Trio Tapestries and that suits the trio just fine. Each instrument supplies its own supple bedrock. The impressionist’s dream that is [the tune] Sparkle Lights holds the true essence of the sound: three voices, space, and the will, or more likely the absolute human need to listen.”

Husband and wife bassist Marc Johnson and pianist Eliane Elias, released Swept Away in 2012 with Lovano and Joey Baron on drums. As John Kelman writes, “It’s Time, [is] a smoky, late night tune that capitalizes on the saxophonist’s ability to get deep inside the pianist’s soft yet supple changes, with Johnson and drummer Joey Baron providing similarly pliant but delicate support.”

Sparkle Lights. Joe Lovano Trio
(Joe Lovano-ts, Marilyn Crispell-p, Carmen Castaldi-d/per). From Trio Tapestry. ECM. 2018.
It’s Time. Marc Johnson – Eliane Elias Quartet
(Joe Lovano-ts, Eliane Elias-p, Marc Johnson-b, Joey Baron-d). From Swept Away. ECM. 2012

Collaborations with Trumpeters Enrico Rava and Dave Douglas
Trumpeter Enrico Rava and Joe Lovano released a live disc Roma in 2019. Mike Jurcovic wrote, “Though it is the first time Rava and Lovano have recorded together it is still par for both that all five of the expansively spirited tracks hold their own slippery atmospheres, giving these crafty improvisers plenty of leeway and free range to take the music where it wants to go and how they take it there. For these forward-thinkers, Rava’s Secrets may be a somewhat traditional piece but, with the horns trading heads and [drummer Gerald] Cleaver’s decisive pinpoint accuracy, it is anything but.”

A quintet featuring Joe Lovano and trumpeter Dave Douglas opened for Wayne Shorter at 2012’s Monterey Jazz Festival. “With its mix of post-hard-bop sensibilities, moments of abandon and orderly, ornate designs, this music sounds simultaneously vintage and contemporary, free and formal. Including two compositions by each leader, the Monterey performance centers around a pair of beguiling, brand-new Shorter pieces which were commissioned by the festival. Both Destination Unknown and To Sail Beyond the Sunset are more tightly organized than the music [Shorter]’s been presenting with his own quartet. With their contrapuntal parts, sidling harmonies and crosstalk between the frontline horn players, these tracks alone make the album worth the price of admission for Shorter fans.”

Secrets. Enrico Rava – Joe Lovano Quintet
(Enrico Rava-flh, Joe Lovano-ts/tarogato, Giovanni Guidi-p, Dezron Douglas-b, Gerald Cleaver-d). From Roma. ECM. 2019
Destination Unknown. Joe Lovano – Dave Douglas Quintet
(Dave Douglas-tp, Joe Lovana-ts, Lawrence Fields-p, Linda Oh-b, Joey Baron-d). From Sound Prints – Live at Monterey Jazz Festival. Blue Note. 2016

For many years, Joe Lovano has been one of the leading band leaders and improvisers in jazz. His work in the last decade has reinforced that reputation as he continues to collaborate with a wide range of the best players in the music.

Roberts, Joel. (2009, August 3). AllAboutJazz. John Patitucci: Remembrance. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/remembrance-john-patitucci-concord-records-review-by-joel-roberts.php

AAJ Italy Staff. (2013, February 11). AllAboutJazz. Joe Lovano Us Five: Cross Culture. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/cross-culture-joe-lovano-manila-jazz-festival-review-by-aaji-staff.php

Kelman, John. (2012, July 24). AllAboutJazz. John Abercrombie Quartet: Within A Song. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/john-abercrombie-quartet-within-a-song-by-john-kelman.php

Collette, Doug. (2015, September 30). AllAboutJazz. John Scofield: John Scofield: Past Present. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/john-scofield-past-present-by-doug-collette.php

Jurkovic, Mike. (2019, February 3). AllAboutJazz.  Joe Lovano: Trio Tapestry. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/trio-tapestry-joe-lovano-ecm-records-review-by-mike-jurkovic.php

Kelman, John. (2012, September 26). AllAboutJazz. Marc Johnson / Eliane Elias: Swept Away. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/swept-away-marc-johnson-ecm-records-review-by-john-kelman.php

Jurkovic, Mike. (2019, October 15). AllAboutJazz. Enrico Rava – Joe Lovano: Roma. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/roma-enrico-rava-ecm-records-review-by-mike-jurkovic.php

Woodard, Josef. (2016, February 2). JazzIz. Joe Lovano and Dave Douglas. https://www.jazziz.com/joe-lovano-and-dave-douglas/

For other programs in Jazz at 100 Today! visit: Jazz at 100 Today!

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