[JPL] Music Preview: Joe Lovano is off to a banner year of recording

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Fri Mar 16 10:15:12 EDT 2007


Music Preview: Joe Lovano is off to a banner year of recording

Thursday, March 15, 2007

By Nate Guidry, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Joe Lovano -- "It's always great to play in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is the
heart of so much soulful music."
Joe Lovano Quartet With: The Bad Plus
When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Where: Manchester Craftsmen's Guild.
Tickets: $35; 412-322-0800.

Listen In:

Hear excerpts from tunes by saxophonist Joe Lovano:

 "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill" from "BeatleJazz: All You Need"

 "Look at Me" from "BeatleJazz: All You Need"

Joe Lovano has so much happening musically, it's a wonder he's able to keep
up with it all.

"At this point, everything has leveled out," said Lovano from his home in
upstate New York. "I am able to juggle things because everything I do is
different. I try not to get bogged down in repetition."

It's only March, and the Grammy-winning tenor saxophonist has already
appeared on three recordings, including "BeatleJazz," and two others with
pianists Hank Jones and McCoy Tyner are slated for release this summer.

"I recorded an album with McCoy called 'Live at Yoshi's,' and Hank Jones and
I have recorded together in the past," said Lovano. "We have a duet record
coming out called 'Kids Are Pretty People.' Hank is such a master and
beautiful person."

Next month, Lovano will be returning to his native Cleveland to direct a
tribute concert in honor of Thelonious Monk. The concert is part of the 28th
Annual Tri-C Jazzfest and will feature Hank Jones, Lewis Nash, George Mraz
and Kenny Barron.

But this weekend, Lovano will lead his quartet at the Manchester Craftsmen's
Guild, where he'll perform with pianist James Weidman, bassist Esperanza
Spalding and drummer Otis Brown. The evening will also spotlight the music
of the Bad Plus, an improvisational trio featuring bassist Reid Anderson,
pianist Ethan Iverson and drummer David King.

"It's always great to play in Pittsburgh," said Lovano. "Pittsburgh is the
heart of so much soulful music. I remember playing the old Crawford Grill
with [Dr.] Lonnie Smith. So many great musicians have come from there."

Lovano first appeared at the Grill in 1974. Later, he returned with Woody
Herman's band to play Heinz Hall and the Balcony with John Scofield.

One of Lovano's favorite Pittsburgh musicians is pianist and composer Billy
Strayhorn, whose life and career were featured recently in an Independent
Lens documentary titled "Lush Life." Blue Note records also released a
companion CD titled "Lush Life" that featured Lovano performing some of the
composer's songs.

Lovano's 2001 Grammy-winning "52nd Street Themes" featured Strayhorn's
"Passion Flower."

"I really enjoyed that album," said Lovano. "That record featured John Hicks
on piano, who we lost last year. John was a close friend, as was Michael
Brecker and Dewey Redman. We've been losing a lot of important jazz

Growing up in Cleveland, Lovano developed his love for jazz and the
saxophone from his father Tony "Big T" Lovano, a tenor saxophonist and
barber who worked with pianist and composer Tadd Dameron and others.

"I grew up with the tenor," said Lovano. "My dad had an incredible jazz
collection so I was always listening to jazz music."

Lovano started playing the alto saxophone, but by the time he turned 12, he
switched to tenor.

Soon, the elder Lovano began to take his son to Cleveland-area clubs where
he was introduced to such musicians as Sonny Stitt, Dizzy Gillespie, Rahsaan
Roland Kirk, James Moody and Eddie Jefferson.

"I remember how inspiring it was when I first heard Eddie Jefferson sing the
lyrics to Miles Davis' 'All Blues'," recalled Lovano. "I could sing it with
him because I knew the song. It was so beautiful."

After graduation from high school, Lovano moved to Boston to attend Berklee
College of Music, where he graduated in 1974. After extended stints in bands
led by Brother Jack McDuff, Dr. Lonnie Smith and Woody Herman, Lovano began
working with Paul Motian, Charlie Haden and others.

Now, he is leading his own groups, varying in size, styles and

"I have developed rich musical relationships over the years," said Lovano.
"As an improviser, it's so inspiring to live in such a multi-cultural
environment and to live in the world of music."

(Nate Guidry can be reached at nguidry at post-gazette.com or 412-263-3865. )
Copyright © PG Publishing Co., Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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