Joe Lovano: Symphonica (EMI)

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Joe Lovano: Emperor Jones
Joe Lovano: Symphonica (EMI)

Those who were witness to the outstanding Auckland concert fronted by saxophonist Lovano and guitarist John Scofield might be right now looking for Joe albums: if so this maybe ain't the one you need.

Where that concert had tension, strength'n'stretch, musical dialogues which sounded like those betweeen an erudite dinnertable conversationalist (Lovano) and an edgy, humorous man with Tourettes (Sco), this album - as the title suggests - finds the elusive Lovano in yet another mood.

Of course if you've read the Elsewhere articles about him (see tags) then you know to expect the unexpected from Lovano: so while he tours with Sco this current album catches him with a German big band and orchestra for whom Lovano has adapted material from his vast back-catalogue to deliver this layered, sometimes romantic, often suave and frequently challenging album.

Rather than sit back and let the string section weave around easy melodic lines, Lovano goes back to material he recorded for sometimes flinty albums, pulls in a little free playing just to keep everyone honest and, although tipping a hat to Ellington, his father and other mentors or music (Alexander the Great uses the changes from the Coltrane favourite Bye Bye Blackbird) he delivers an album that stands as distinctive and singular in his catalogue.

That said, if the concert was right in your zone then you should start with the bouncy Dawn of Time here (taken from an album with Sco).

Elsewhere though this is sophisticated, smart and sassily orchestrated jazz -- and Lovano sounding as comfortable as if you dropped him into a free jazz ensemble.

More evidence of his particular and unbound genius, in other words. 

 

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