Jazz Standards: Solo Interpretations & Expressions
JOE LOVANO Joe Lovano Biography -2002 Jazz Times 'Top 10 Best Jazz Album of the Year' Viva Caruso - 2001 Down Beat Readers Poll Jazz Musician of the Year, Tenor Saxophonist of the Year, Jazz Album of the Year ' (52nd St. Themes) - 2001 Down Beat Critic's Poll Winner for Musician of the Year - 2001 Jazz Journalists Association Critic's Choice Awards Winner for 'Musician of the Year' and 'Jazz Album of the Year' (52nd St. Themes); Nominated for 'Small Ensemble of the Year' (Nonet); 'Tenor Saxophonist of the Year'; - 2001 Recipient of 'The Gary Burton Chair for Jazz Performance' by Berklee College of Music - 2000 Grammy Winner for Best Large Ensemble for 52nd Street Themes - 2000 Down Beat Readers & Critics Poll Winner Tenor Player of the Year - 2000 Jazz Journalists Association Critic's Choice Awards Nominee for 'Musician of the Year' and Winner 'Tenor Saxophonist of the Year' - 1999 Jazz Times Readers Poll 'Album of the Year' Trio Fascination: Edition One - 1999 Bell Atlantic Jazz Awards, winner 'Best Tenor Saxophonist' and nominee for 'Musician of the Year' - 1998 New York Jazz Awards nominee for 'Musician Of The Year;' 'Improviser of the Year;' 'Best Tenor Saxophonist' - 1998 Jazz Journalists Association Critics Choice Awards nominee for 'Musician of the Year;' 'Best Improviser of the Year;' 'Best Artist/Band In Performance;' 'Best Combo of 1997' (Joe Lovano Sextet); 'Best Tenor Sax Player of the Year' - 1998 Awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Berklee College of Music - 1997 Grammy Nominee Best Instrumental Performance for Celebrating Sinatra - 1997 Jazz Journalists Association Critics Choice Awards Winner 'Album of the Year' for Quartets Live At The Vanguard and nominee for 'Musician of the Year;' 'Best Instrumentalist;' 'Best Working Band' (Joe Lovano Quartet); - 1996 Grammy Nominee Best Jazz Small Group Album and Jazz Solo for Quartets Live at the Village Vanguard - 'Jazz Artist of the Year' 1995 & 1996 Down Beat Critics Poll & Readers Poll - 'Tenor Player of the Year' 1995 Down Beat Readers Poll - 'Album of the Year' Rush Hour 1995 Down Beat Critics & Readers Poll - 1995 Grammy Nominee Best Large Ensemble for Rush Hour - 1995 Jazz Report Magazine (Canada)'International Artist of the Year' - 1994 Grammy Nominee Best Jazz Small Group Album for Tenor Legacy You might think by glancing over the list of accolades garnered by saxophonist/composer Joe Lovano, that this renowned musician has found a tried-and-true formula for success, and that he has. Unlike lesser artists who will take what seems to work for them and keep coming back with more of the same, the secret to Lovano's success is his fearless ability to always challenge and push the conceptual and thematic choices he makes in a quest for new modes of artistic expression and new takes on what defines the jazz idiom. Joe Lovano was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1952, and began playing alto sax as a child. A prophetic early family photo is of the infant Joe cradled in his mother's arms along with a sax. His father, tenor saxophonist Tony 'Big T' Lovano, schooled Joe not only in the basics but in dynamics and interpretation, and regularly exposed him to jazz artists traveling through such as Sonny Stitt, James Moody, Dizzy Gillespie, Gene Ammons, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. While still a teenager he immersed himself in the jam-session culture of Cleveland where organ trios were common and Texas tenor throw-downs a rite of passage. In high school he began to absorb the free jazz experiments of Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane and Jimmy Giuffre, and was greatly affected by the interaction that occurred between the musicians. Upon graduation from high school he attended the famed Berklee College of Music in Boston where he met and began playing with such future collaborators as John Scofield, Bill Frisell, and Kenny Werner. He had been searching for a way to incorporate the fire and spirituality of late-period John Coltrane into more traditional settings. At Berklee he discovered modal harmony: 'My training was all be-bop, and suddenly there were these open forms with deceptive resolutions. That turned me on, the combination of that sound and what I came in there with. I knew what I wanted to work on after that.' In 1994 Joe was given the prestigious 'Distinguished Alumni Award' from Berklee and was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1998. Berklee also awarded Joe the first 'Gary Burton Chair for Jazz Performance' in 2001. Joe's first professional job after Berklee was, not surprisingly given his roots, with organist Lonnie Smith, which brought him to New York for his recording debut, followed by a stint with Brother Jack McDuff. This segued into a three-year tour with the Woody Herman Thundering Herd from 1976 to 1979, culminating in 'The 40th Anniversary Concert' at Carnegie Hall, which also features some of Joe's heroes and fellow saxophonists Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Flip Phillips, Al Cohn and Jimmy Giuffre. After leaving the Herman Herd, Joe settled in New York City where he continues to live. His early years there filled with jam sessions and rent gigs, but eventually he joined the Mel Lewis Orchestra for it's regular Monday night concert at the Village Vanguard, playing from 1980 to 1992 and recording six albums with the Orchestra. In addition he joined the Paul Motian band in 1981 and has worked with John Scofield, Herbie Hancock, Elvin Jones, Charlie Haden, Carla Bley, Bobby Hutcherson, Billy Higgins, Dave Holland, Ed Blackwell, Michel Petrucciani, Lee Konitz, Abbey Lincoln, Tom Harrell, McCoy Tyner, Jim Hall, Bob Brookmeyer and many more. His first high-profile gig that brought him national attention was with guitarist John Scofield's Quartet, with whom he recorded and toured for three years. Of his playing Scofield says, 'He's very sonically aware - he thinks about the effect different instruments and different personalities will have. He was perfect for what I was doing - his sense of swing and his tone reminded me of the older guys, in a really positive way.' He gained further exposure and renown, particularly in Europe, through his work in the trailblazing Paul Motian Trio, which also featured former Berklee classmate, guitarist Bill Frisell. Lovano's debut Blue Note release Landmarks (Blue Note 96108) was released in 1991 and featured guitarist John Abercrombie. Joe's first engagement as a leader (at the Village Vanguard), coincided with the release of that record. The critically acclaimed From The Soul (Blue Note 98636) followed with Michel Petrucciani, Dave Holland and the legendary Ed Blackwell. Recently, readers of AllAboutJazz.com voted From The Soul #34 in their all-time Top 100 Jazz CDs poll. Joe has long experimented with different ensembles which reflect his searching and dynamic personality. As much a composer as player, Joe is constantly seeking new ways to express his muse. His third Blue Note album Universal Language (Blue Note 99830) features the soprano voice of Judi Silvano, whose wordless vocals mesh beautifully in both ensemble and improvised passages with Joe, as well as trumpeter Tim Hagans and pianist Kenny Werner. His next album, the 1994 release Tenor Legacy (Blue Note 27014), features tenor saxophonist Josh Redman, and received wide critical acclaim, culminating in a Grammy nomination for 'Best Jazz Small Group Recording.' Predictably unpredictable, Joe's Rush Hour (Blue Note 29629), released in early 1995, reflects his restless searching and desire to expand his musical palette. It features his tenor saxophone with voice, string and woodwind ensembles arranged and conducted by the legendary Gunther Schuller, in compositions by Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington, Gunther Schuller and Joe Lovano. As CD Review's 'Disc of the Month' stated, 'Music doesn't get any better than this. This disc is a wonder.' Joe and Gunther subsequently collaborated on the score for a Showtime movie, 'Face Down,' which starred Joe Montegna. Joe Lovano ended 1996 with Joe Lovano Quartets at the Village Vanguard (Blue Note 29125), winning 'Jazz Album of the Year' in the 1996 Down Beat Readers Poll. Recorded at two separate engagements at the historic Village Vanguard in New York City, the special set features Joe with Mulgrew Miller, Christian McBride, and Lewis Nash on one CD, and with Tom Harrell, Anthony Cox and Billy Hart on the other. Down Beat Magazine's 5-star review says simply, 'The Vanguard sessions are extraordinary.' Joe began 1997 with two Grammy nominations for the Village Vanguard recording and the release of his most eagerly anticipated Joe Lovano Celebrating Sinatra (Blue Note CDP 37718) with Joe's tenor sax surrounded by string quartet, woodwind quintet, voice and rhythm section in arrangements by Manny Albam. As Peter Watrous in the New York Times observed, 'This is a perfectly balanced piece of work, quiet chamber jazz at it's best, with Mr. Lovano's odd phrasing, with it's halts and velocity, taking the music somewhere new.' Joe Lovano rolled into 1998 with yet another Grammy nomination - for Joe Lovano Celebrating Sinatra - and the release of yet another completely different recording, Flying Colors (Blue Note CDP 56092), a duo album with the great Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba. In a four star review the Los Angeles Times said, 'Each piece reveals yet another perspective on the talent of two extraordinary players, clearly inspired by the setting and each other, creating some of the finest jazz in recent memory.' Joe followed Flying Colors with the fiery release Trio Fascination: Edition One (Blue Note CDP 33114) features what is arguably the finest rhythm section in jazz, drummer Elvin Jones and bassist Dave Holland. The Times of London noted, 'In Joe Lovano, a player firmly grounded in swing values yet discerningly alive to subsequent developments from Charlie Parker through Coltrane to Ornette Coleman, the trio format has found one of it's most natural exponents since Sonny Rollins or Joe Henderson...this is state-of-the-art trio jazz.' Paying tribute to some early influences Joe recorded 52nd Street Themes (Blue Note CDP 72434) featuring a nine-piece ensemble in the music of Tadd Dameron, Thelonious Monk, and Miles Davis with arrangements by the legendary Willie 'Face' Smith. The album was honored with a Grammy award and was 2001 Down Beat Readers' Jazz Album of the Year.' Returning once again to the trio format Joe recorded Flights of Fancy: Trio Fascination Edition 2, with a variety of trios including such musicians as Dave Douglas, Kenny Werner, Toots Thielmans, and Joey Baron, among others. Joe's final album of 2002 was yet another ambitious project, an album devoted to the music and memory of the great Italian tenor, Enrico Caruso. Viva Caruso features arrangements for a large woodwind ensemble by Byron Olson plus guest soloist Gil Goldstein on accordion as well as a smaller 'street band,' with which he has toured the US and Europe, including Billy Drewes, Judi Silvano & Ed Schuller. Jazz Times named it one of the Top 10 Jazz Albums of 2002. To begin 2003 Joe released ScoLoHoFo, a collaborative effort with John Scofield, Dave Holland and Al Foster, one of the most anticipated 'supergroups' in years. The group has toured Europe and this album was recorded immediately upon their return to the US. Joe's upcoming CD is a quartet with piano great Hank Jones, drummer extraordinaire Paul Motian & the great bassist George Mraz, due out in the Spring of 2004 on Blue Note Records. Watch for it!!! As the Village Voice proclaimed, 'Move over Pavarotti, the great Italian tenor around today isn't Luciano, but Lovano.' Joe Lovano QUOTES: Critics' Choice 'Move over Pavarotti, the greatest Italian tenor around today isn't Luciano, but Lovano.' Will Friedwald, The Village Voice 'Lovano . . .fully justifies the growing view of him as an important, world-class jazz talent.' Don Heckman, Los Angeles Times '. . .the most heralded jazz musician of 1995.' Bob Blumenthal, Boston Globe 'A master of his Promethean craft, the tenor saxophonist strikes a balance between passion and intellect as he ventures from the touchstone of lyricism to the outer limits of free expression.' Steve Dollar, Atlanta Journal '. . . he is surely one of the most exciting, a sublimely confident player with provocative musical ideas and the vigor to bring them crying forth.' Steve Dollar, Atlanta Journal '. . . a savior has been slowly materializing in the nineties¾the astonishing tenor saxophonist and composer Joe Lovano.' Whitney Balliett, The New Yorker 'No matter the mood or the tempo, Lovano delivered the kind of play that made one forget his prodigious technique and instead fall under the spell of his continually unfolding story line.' Bill Kohlhaase, Los Angeles Times.
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