Titans of Modern Jazz
Grammy winning saxophonist Joe Lovano is one of the most innovative and far reaching players in jazz. His warm, burnished tone has roots in classic bebop, but his harmonic language has much more to say. Joe has dedicated his career to pushing the envelope of improvised music, and has surrounded himself with players who do the same. With his latest ensemble, Us Five, Lovano takes his mission a step further, employing two drummers to heighten the rhythmic complexity of his already harmonically complex music.
Born in Cleveland, Joe grew up listening to his father, a tenor player himself. While still in high school Lovano started working in area clubs, eventually saving up enough gig money to put himself through college. Upon arriving at the Berklee School of Music in Boston, Joe dove into the busy music scene, finding many like-minded players looking for a new sound. Joe spent his immediate post-college days playing with Tom Jones, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Jack McDuff, and a three-year stint with Woody Herman’s band.
Upon moving to New York in 1980, Lovano began recording and performing under his own name. He also appeared with some of the major names in modern jazz: Paul Motian’s World of Music, the Mel Lewis Orchestra, the John Scofield Quintet, and countless others. He signed with Blue Note in 1991, and has released over 25 albums under his own name since that time.
Lovano always has several ensembles going at once: unaccompanied saxophone and gongs, duets, trios, quartets, quintets, his Wind Ensemble, Street Band and Nonet, and three years with the SFJAZZ Collective. With his two-drummer quintet Us Five, Lovano’s latest release, Cross Culture is an 11-track tour de force that presents 10 of Lovano’s original compositions along with a stunning interpretation of the Billy Strayhorn ballad “Star Crossed Lovers.” Augmenting his core group (pianist James Weidman, bassists Esperanza Spalding or Peter Slavov, and drummers Otis Brown III and Francisco Mela) with the daring West African guitarist – and fellow Blue Note artist – Lionel Loueke, Lovano delivers his most fully realized representation of a career-long quest to explore the notion of universal musical language.
What Other People Have Been Saying...
“The first time I heard Joe Lovano I felt that he was the most creative and hard swinging tenor player I’d heard in years. Joe has emerged as a giant on his instrument and a full fledged giant of jazz.” -Bruce Lundvall, Blue Note Records