June 21, 2024


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Joe Lovano: My dad was a fantastic saxophone player with a really deep passion for the music: New video 2018

29.12. – Happy Birthday !!! Joseph Salvatore Lovano was born in Cleveland, Ohio on 1952 and grew up in a very musical household. His dad, Tony, aka Big T, was a barber by day and a big-toned tenor player at night. “Big T,” along with his brothers Nick and Joe, other tenor players, and Carl, a bebop trumpeter, made sure Joe’s exposure to Jazz and the saxophone were early and constant.

Joe’s mom, Josephine, and her sister Rose were serious listeners, as well, His Mom remembers hearing Big T play opposite Stan Getz and Flip Phillips when they were engaged. And Aunt Rose went to hear Jazz at the Philharmonic with Ella Fitzgerald when they came through Cleveland.

Not surprisingly, Joe began playing the alto at five, switching to the tenor a few years later. By the time he got his driver’s license at sixteen, Joe Lovano was a member of the Musician’s Union, Local 4, and working professionally. He started playing club dates (sometimes subbing for his dad), and Motown cover bands, eventually saving enough money from these gigs to put himself through college.

“My dad was a fantastic saxophone player with a really deep passion for the music. I grew up with his record collection and when I was a teenager, he’d bring me around to rehearsals and jam sessions”.

The goatee and barrel-chested frame may be trademarks, but musically, jazz master Joe Lovano is a chameleon.

Whether Hammond B3 jazz, big band, hard bop, avant garde or world music, Grammy winner Lovano has found his voice through it all for going on five decades now. Wednesday night at Dazzie, Lovano proved he’s in no hurry to slow down after celebrating his 60th birthday last month (nor to give up his orange-, black- and white-striped shirt circa 1988). Lovano’s Us Five band played a challenging 7 p.m. set that had the sellout crowd both engaged and slightly off balance, with fiery bursts from Lovano’s tenor and a rhythm section that included two drummers and fellow Grammy winner Esperanza SZpalding on bass.

The set drew largely from the band’s three albums together — “Folk Art,” “Bird Songs” and “Cross Culture,” the latter released on the Blue Note label this month. In opener “Us Five,” Lovano chopped the song up into shorter bits with longer pauses while stalking the stage as if in search of reactions from the audience. Pianist James Weidman echoed Lovano’s phrases deftly on “Blessings in May.” Drummers Francisco Mela and Otis Brown III syncopated their beats masterfully during the sharp-angled “In a Spin,” while Lovano played with the tension of the composition, building it and letting it go.

Lovano’s saxophone tone is one of the few in the history of jazz to combine both warmth and angularity as if they were natural complements. As for Spalding, she wowed the audience several times with melodic and exploratory solos. Lovano has said of her, “(she’s) very special… she plays with a real sense of dialogue and interplay.” The same has always been true of Lovano, even in free jazz settings. You never feel he’s taking off on his own to show you what a great player he is. Instead, and maybe because he’s played drums often, he’s an improviser who’s always listening to his rhythm section and what’s happening within the band, reacting in that collective moment.

Billy Strayhorn’s haunting “Star Crossed Lovers” closed the set. Lovano passed the ending a few times, stretching out the lyrical tones. All of the night’s busier interplay seemed to melt into the ballad’s melody.

Grammy winning jazz musician Joe Lovano played at Dazzle in Denver on Jan. 30, 2013. Photo of Lovano courtesy of his website.

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