March 3, 2024

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CD review: Joe Lovano & Dave Douglas Sound Prints Quintet – Vienna 2022: Video, CD cover

Sound Prints, the all-star quintet spearheaded by the titanic tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano and the formidable trumpeter Dave Douglas, releases its third full-length album, this time featuring only original compositions by the leaders but still inspired by the musical temperament and style of the legendary saxophonist Wayne Shorter.

However, exploring such an impactful legacy takes the two composers to new places in the company of a multi-generational trio of rhythmic backers and accomplished soloists, namely pianist Lawrence Fields, bassist Linda May Han Oh and veteran drummer Joey Baron.

“Space Exploration”, the first part of Lovano’s Other Worlds Suite, first spins with spiritual consciousness and then allures our sonic palate with crisp unisons that leave room for Baron’s stable drum fills. The bass initiates a swinging route that serves the excellence of Lovano’s vertiginous ins and outs, just before Oh starts off a line of thought herself. Her impressive bass work is put on halt immediately after, when Douglas rides high on top of an adept accompaniment provided by piano and drums. Concluding the series of improvisations, Lawrence dovetails whirling figures and works on classical-inspired movements that incessantly land in the right places.

The ensemble often passes the idea of free-form exploration but never really loses the sense of structure. That’s evident in pieces touching the borders of post-bop and avant-garde, like Douglas’ “Life On Earth”, a tour-de-force that incorporates dashes of funk, bendable horn stretches, and a modal property that easily recalls the Miles Davis Quintet from the 1960’s. Moreover, the name Miles in the title of Lovano’s “Sky Miles” might not have been by chance; it’s a mighty jab into ingenious post-bop that also falls into the Shorter/Davis’ bag.

“The Flight”, the third movement of Lovano’s above-named suite (nonsequential on the album’s track list), teems with playful lyricism and smoldering horn exchanges that form a kaleidoscopic sheet of sound. It all plays out under a springy, waltzing articulation.

Douglas’ fascination for the ancient past and its major figures is bespoke in two of his pieces: “Antiquity to Outer Space”, whose modern creative traits are shaded with wafts of chamber music, and “Pythagoras”, a polyrhythmic stunner in which we find the musicians pushing and prodding each other in an effort to go beyond themselves.

Baron’s brushed textures and sizzling cymbals propel “Manitou” with the help of a coruscating bass churn. This is a ballad in six that produces plenty of melody via the elegant dance between muted trumpet and tenor saxophone.

There’s a relaxed assurance to the entire set that stems from the experience of the collective. The musicianship involved here is outstanding, resulting in a work of great impact that deserves enthusiastic commendation.

Disc 1
1. Intro – Christoph Huber 2:15
2. Antiquity To Outer Space 15:48
3. The Flight 10:14
4. The Transcendentalists 9:06
5. Talk – Dave Douglas 2:03
6. Sky Miles 12:17

Disc 2
1. Untitled 12:17
2. Life On Earth 12:12
3. Talk – Joe Lovano & Dave Douglas 1:15
4. Space Exploration 12:28
5. Shooting Stars 3:33
6. Pythagoras 6:01

Porgy & Bess Jazz & Music Club, Vienna, Austria; July 10, 2022.

Joe Lovano – ts, ss
Dave Douglas – tp
Lawrence Fields – p
Yasushi Nakamura – b
Rudy Royston – dr

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