Friday, February 22, 2013

Joe Lovano Us Five: Cross Culture

"Long ago he developed a tenor saxophone sound for his temperament. It rolls and smears and smokes, all width, rhythmic unto itself; it can fit in or accommodate. ... More recently, he’s developed a working band for that temperament, Us Five. It has two drummers, which creates a broad area around the beat. They’ll play tight or loose, without cymbals or with only cymbals. ... Mr. Lovano’s third album with Us Five, 'Cross Culture,' with the drummers Francisco Mela and Otis Brown III, as well as the pianist James Weidman, the bassist Esperanza Spalding and the guitarist Lionel Loueke in an intermittent, undefined role, can sometimes sound like a jam session based on scraps. In fact most of these pieces are more composed than they seem; several have appeared in different arrangements on earlier Lovano records. But over all the feel is organic and basic, intense and casual. The record isn’t making any kind of argument on behalf of free improvising. Mr. Lovano isn’t partisan like that. There’s a gold-star version here of one of jazz’s most elegant ballad standards, Billy Strayhorn’s 'Star Crossed Lovers,' with rustling free rhythm at the beginning and end and easy swing in the middle. Mr. Lovano’s performance is a knockout" (Ben Ratliff, "New Music," New York Times, 1/7/13).

View catalog record here!


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