r durfee rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com
Mon Jul 31 18:32:59 EDT 2006

  “Streams of Expression” 
  (Blue Note)
  All jazz musicians carry a burden of history, but Joe Lovano gives the impression that it’s carrying him. Through loads of records — about one a year for Blue Note since 1991 — as well as commissions and other projects, he has found different angles to explore, maintaining his own gusty saxophone sound in whatever he concocts. Happily, his output always feels nonacademic, delivered with a generous unpretentiousness. Even when his work seems to be about repertory, in the end it’s not. It’s about him and his casual process. He’s never demonstrating; he’s playing.
  At the core of his new record, “Streams of Expression,” are Gunther Schuller’s rearrangements of some of the music from Miles Davis’s “Birth of the Cool” album, originally recorded in 1949 and 1950. For “Birth of the Cool Suite,” commissioned by the Monterey Jazz Festival in 2001, Mr. Lovano asked Mr. Schuller to open up three of the Davis recordings — “Moon Dreams” (on which Mr. Schuller played the French horn 56 years ago), “Move” and “Boplicity.” These are extraordinary miniatures with exotic harmony, and in truth Mr. Schuller didn’t have to do much to them to make a suite. Since Mr. Lovano’s ensemble here is a 12-piece group instead of the original nonet, Mr. Schuller has added a little more harmony. He also allotted some players, principally Mr. Lovano, ample soloing room. (Gerry Mulligan had only tiny spaces on the original “Moon Dreams”; here Mr. Lovano gets to stretch out.) In addition, Mr. Schuller has slowed down the tempo of “Boplicity,” created some
 arrangements to frame the solos, and isolated certain identifying figures of the pieces, which he has teased into introductory sections or interludes.
  Also on “Streams of Expression” are pieces by Mr. Lovano, written for an 11-piece band, and a “Birth of the Cool”-like composition called “Buckeyes,” written by the trumpeter Tim Hagans; they make the “Birth of the Cool” music less lonely on the disc. 
  But the real action is in the trio pieces, “Blue Sketches,” “Enchantment” and “Big Ben.” Here, with the bassist Dennis Irwin and the drummer Lewis Nash, Mr. Lovano is at his best, using a broad tone and a rolling rhythmic feel. On these pieces he plays, respectively, tenor saxophone, alto clarinet and Aulochrome, a recent creation of the instrument maker François Louis that combines two soprano saxophones so that they can be played in unison or strike any interval; with it, a saxophone can also layer different rhythms. It has its uses; you hear Mr. Lovano making it sound natural, casually exploring its challenges and finding some of its rewards. BEN RATLIFF

Roy Durfee
P.O. Box 40219
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87196-0219
rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com
Yahoo! Music Unlimited - Access over 1 million songs.Try it free. 

More information about the jazzproglist mailing list