Posts Tagged ‘Joe Lovano’

LIVE: Joe Lovano’s Us Five @ The Egg, 1/20/13

Friday, January 25th, 2013
Joe Lovano

Joe Lovano

Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Albert Brooks

I have a pretty simple job description: Go to something, watch it, and then tell you about it in a way that gives you a good snapshot of what I saw. I do this about 30-40 times a year, so I’d like to think I’m pretty accomplished at it. And yet, there I was in the center aisle of the Swyer Theatre, people streaming past me after Joe Lovano/Us Five had blown the place up real good, and thinking, “What the hell am I going to say? I mean, besides ‘HOLY SHIT! THAT WAS AWESOME!’”

Us Five, Joe Lovano’s most devilish project yet, is unlike any other animal in the zoo. First, it’s got two drummers – not unheard of in the rock world, but if there are two percussionists onstage in jazz, one of them is usually playing some kind of hand drums. Also, no jazz group I can think of uses drums the way Us Five deploys them. Instead of the drummers driving the train and offering an occasional solo or counter, the relationship here is much more reciprocal: One drummer is either soloing or counter-soloing almost all the time; and Lovano and the other players spend a fair amount of time chasing the drums, not the other way around.

Most importantly, Us Five acts as a unit – more than any band on the menu, in jazz or otherwise. Oh, there were plenty of solo spots, including Lovano’s moment in the clear on tenor sax at the front of the opener “Us Five.” But the whole of Us Five is greater than the sum of its parts, regardless of how amazing those parts may be. Lovano may have played in an open area downstage from the rest of the group, but he was acting and reacting just as much as his partners. That’s more necessary than usual, because when it comes to changes in tune, tone or time, this band literally turns on a dime.

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LIVE: Joe Lovano/Dave Douglas Quintet Sound Prints @ Skidmore College’s Zankel Music Center, 7/3/12

Friday, July 20th, 2012
Dave Douglas and Joe Lovano

Dave Douglas and Joe Lovano

Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

It’s a Marvel Comics kind of question: What if Joe Lovano and Dave Douglas teamed up? I mean, Lovano and Douglas are this jazz era’s equivalent of the Incredible Hulk and Thor, God of Thunder: They can (and will) do whatever the hell they want, and they’ll do it absolutely splendidly – witness the sterling music Lovano’s created with the atypical configuration that is Us Five; or Douglas’ almost-all-horn band Brass Ecstasy, one of the biggest highlights of last year’s rain-soaked Solid Sound Festival. That’s just two examples from a long, long list of choices! Sure, Lovano and Douglas shared space on the SFJAZZ Collective front line a few years ago, but they were working on someone else’s ideas. But what if they came up with their own concept… like a set of original compositions inspired by jazz icon Wayne Shorter, for instance?

Yes, the argument can be made that this is just an outgrowth of SFJAZZ’s mandate, which not only calls for tribute to the music of a new legend every year, but also commissions the Collective’s rolling cast to create new music inspired by that legend. But as much as I am the biggest SFJAZZ fan in Greater Nippertown, I always get the sense that most of each year’s work involves finding something significant for everyone in the band to do. (“Collective,” right?) Contrariwise, the quintet Lovano & Douglas brought out to a packed-tight Zankel Music Center had a very specific hierarchy, with the jovial reed wizard and the intense trumpeter firmly in the lead and their supporting players knowing their occasionally-expansive supporting roles. That consistency wasn’t just traditional; it was also necessary, because the music they were about to pimp-slap us with was intricate enough without the musicians having to ask themselves, “Who am I now? Who am I on the next tune?”

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Is the Hudson Valley the Center of the Jazz World?

Monday, June 13th, 2011

Well, maybe not, but…

At the Jazz Journalists Association’s Jazz Awards held Saturday at City Winery in NYC, it kinda seemed like it. Sonny Rollins – 80-year-old jazz giant, saxophone colossus and Germantown resident – was awarded the top honor of the ceremony Jazz Musician of the Year.

Rollins was also honored as Best Tenor Saxophonist. In addition, he was the subject of the portrait by John Abbott, which was named Best Jazz Photograph. And, of yeah, Rollins was also the subject of “Sonny Rollins: Getting It Back Together,” by Bret Primack, which was named Best Short Form Video of the Year:

Meanwhile, Hudson Valley saxophonist Joe Lovano and his band Us Five was named Best Small Ensemble, and their album, “Bird Songs,” earned top honors as Best Recording of the Year.

And Albany native Stefon Harris was also named Best Mallet Instrumentalist of the Year.

Nippertown jazz fans will also have the opportunity to see two more of the awards show’s double-winners in the spotlight – for free. The 84-year-old saxophonist Jimmy Heath earned the award for Best Book About Jazz (for his autobiography, “I Walked With Giants”) and well as the coveted Lifetime Achievement in Jazz honors. Heath will be performing with the Heath Brothers at Skidmore College’s Zankel Music Center on Tuesday, June 28. And Ambrose Akinmusire – who was named Up-and-Coming Artist of the Year as well as Best Trumpeter of the Year – is also slated to perform at the Zankel Music Center on Tuesday, July 5. Both performances are part of the Skidmore Jazz Institute.

LIVE: The Joe Lovano & John Scofield Quartet @ The Egg, 1/30/11

Friday, February 4th, 2011
John Scofield and Joe Lovano

John Scofield and Joe Lovano

It has been said time and time again that jazz should be rooted in the blues, have the feeling of swing and the element of improvisation. If that is the case, then the Joe Lovano & John Scofield Quartet should be the textbook version of what jazz is.

For their concert last Sunday evening, The Egg’s Swyer Theatre was filled with an enthusiastic, appreciative crowd that was touched by the music of this wonderful group. It is this connection with the audience that separates this group from many of even the best known of players. In today’s jazz world, many musicians have leaned toward the growing trend of intellectualism over emotion or storytelling. But these musicians showed how the soul could be exposed even through intellectual music.

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Free Sample of Jazz Summit: Lovano Meets Scofield

Friday, January 28th, 2011
John Scofield and Joe Lovano

John Scofield and Joe Lovano

Sometimes you’re just not sure whether you want to go to a concert or not. Maybe you’ve read about the musicians or even to some of their tunes, but you really still aren’t certain that you want to drop $25 or $30 for a ticket.

Well, The Egg is giving you the opportunity to sample the jazz sounds of the quartet co-led by saxmaster Joe Lovano and guitar great John Scofield for free on Sunday – prior to their 7:30pm concert later that evening.

That’s right, you’re invited to observe the band’s “open sound check” at 5pm on Sunday, which will be followed by a question-and-answer period with musicians. Admission to the pre-concert sound check and Q&A is free and open to the public.

The evening concert by the Joe Lovano and John Scofield Quartet is slated to start at 7:30pm at The Egg in Albany, and tix are priced at $29.50.

LIVE: Albany’s All-America City Jazz Festival, 9/12/09

Friday, September 18th, 2009

Lee Shaw and Rich Syracuse

Lee Shaw and Rich Syracuse


This year’s Albany’s All-America City Jazz Festival kicked off in high gear with Nippertown’s own queen of the keys Lee Shaw taking the bandstand. Her long-time bandmates – bassist Rich Syracuse and drummer Jeff Seigel – turned up the heat behind Shaw’s impassioned piano stylings as she masterfully led the trio through a handfull of jazz standards and memorable originals. Wearing a bright red coat and a scarf to fend off the chill in the air, Lee Shaw warmly smiled out to the audience as her fingers melodically caressed the keys.

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