The Spring Quartet: Jack DeJohnette, Joe Lovano, Esperanza Spalding and Leo Genovese. Just been to to see The Spring Quartet - 4 amazing musicians who collectively were incredible, best gig I’ve been to in ages!
Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews Joe Lovano’s new album Bird Songs: Bird Songs makes the implicit point that everyone in modern jazz draws on Charlie Parker some kind of way…. Joe Lovano pours it all into his own touching, sweetly melancholy sound. Retooling Parker tunes, he confirms the way to honor an innovator is not by being a copycat, but by finding your own voice.
I had almost forgotten about this album, played it a lot when it was released but haven’t heard it for around 10 years, until tonight - well worth checking out!
Combining the talents of tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano, guitarist John Scofield, bassist Dave Holland, and drummer Al Foster, there is an uncredited fifth member on jazz super-group Scolohofo’s début recording, Oh! - Miles Davis. Every one of these musicians, except for Lovano, gained their first real success with the legendary trumpeter - an experience that informs their careers to the present. The aesthetic on Oh! is resolutely Milesian - impressionistic, spare, soft, funky, progressive, but always with an ear to the blues. Scolohofoda? His sound is almost literally present, an “implied tone” whenever Scofield’s dissonant chord clusters and Lovano’s whispery throat tones collide. These guys played with Davis in his later fusion period during the ‘70’s and ‘80’s when Davis’ “group” aesthetic came to the fore and became perhaps even more important than his individual contribution. And, while everyone gets their featured solo spot, the overall effect is one of intensely soft and layered patches of sound. Scofield’s trademark “chicken scratch” lines match perfectly with Lovano’s fuzzy spittle tone and the rhythm section of Holland and Foster offers its own wryly propulsive counterpoint. Musically, the goal is resolutely post-bop, but with an acoustic, folky underpinning that allows for some interestingly arranged melodic moments. This contrasts nicely with the free-flowing, loose improvisation informed by ‘60’s free jazz, fusion, and modern progressive styles. Long time fans of the work of these individual musicians will find much to enjoy here, but there is the sense of new or at least rediscovery on Oh! - another Davis trademark - which bodes well for future collaborations - but don’t hold your breath!
Joe Lovano – tenor sax Ralph Lalama – tenor sax Steve Slagle – alto sax Gary Smulyan – baritone sax Barry Reis – trumpet Larry Farrell – trombone John Hicks – piano Dennis Irwin – bass Lewis Nash – drums