5 Apr 2011

Joe Lovano and Charlie Parker

Joe Lovano played for one evening in Paris recently, at the New Morning, and I went to hear him. I very much enjoy his latest album, entitled Bird Songs, about which Luc, who is a mainstay of the comments section of this blog, first informed me. This album was the basis for the two sets that Lovano played with his current quintet, unusually composed of 2 drummers (a Cuban and an American), a Bulgarian bass player and an American pianist.

It is never an easy exercise (or else so easy that people settle for pure facility) to revisit what have become standards, especially when these were created by one of the greatest that jazz has ever seen (I mean Charlie Parker). Lovano deals with the matter beautifully, never loosing his own style, sound and phrasing. This is perhaps helped by the fact that he plays mainly tenor, compared to Parker's alto. But his occasional use of the soprano sax or the flute are equally convincing.

On the night that I heard Lovano play, he appeared to have a new bass player, called Petar Slavov, who was beautifully musical, as indeed were the two drummers, Francisco Mela and Otis Brown. I admit to having had some apprehensions that two drummers would over-dominate the sound, but they are as discreet as they are complementary, and the combination works just fine.

I notice that Downbeat magazine, in its 58th annual referendum awards, has recently elected Lovano best tenor, best musician of the year, and his US Five as best group of the year. This sort of thing will not impress Luc, but I guess it means something. Anyway I really enjoyed the two sets. His sound is beautiful. 
(photo David Cobbold)

And now for your present. This record is great!