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Celebrating Sinatra
Joe Lovano
Celebrating Sinatra
Genres: Jazz, Broadway & Vocalists
Growing up in an Italian-American household in Cleveland during the 1950s and '60s, Joe Lovano breathed in Frank Sinatra's music as unthinkingly as he breathed in the air. Young Joe's dad Tony was a weekend saxophonist who...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Joe Lovano
Title: Celebrating Sinatra
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 2
Label: Blue Note Records
Original Release Date: 1/14/1997
Release Date: 1/14/1997
Genres: Jazz, Broadway & Vocalists
Styles: Modern Postbebop, Traditional Vocal Pop
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 0724383771851, 724383771820, 077773771826, 724383771820

Growing up in an Italian-American household in Cleveland during the 1950s and '60s, Joe Lovano breathed in Frank Sinatra's music as unthinkingly as he breathed in the air. Young Joe's dad Tony was a weekend saxophonist who specialized in standards, and Aunt Rose knew the lyric to every Sinatra record ever made. So it was only natural that Joe grew up to be a tenor saxophonist himself and make an album called Celebrating Sinatra. It's not what you might think, however. This is no nostalgic retread of a bygone era. This is an ambitious project by one of the most gifted jazz musicians of the '90s, an innovator who doesn't revive Sinatra's tunes so much as he reinvents them. The only vocals on the album come from Lovano's wife, Judi Silvano, who accompanies the saxophone rather than the other way around. Her ethereal soprano harmonies and elastic scat improvisations play much the same role in the arrangements that Ted Nash's clarinet and Dick Oatts's flute do. Instead, the lead voice is Lovano's sax, which produces a sound so brawny and yet warm that it achieves the same blend of bravado and sensitivity that Sinatra's vocals once did. Rather than merely follow Ol' Blue Eyes, though, Lovano carves whole new trails through chord changes offered up by the likes of Harold Arlen, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, and Sinatra himself. The saxophonist always states the original melody in the first chorus, but he's quick to reveal how many ways the theme can be bent and twisted without losing its emotional core. Keeping the rhythmic swing crisp and clean is the all-star rhythm section of pianist Kenny Werner, drummer Al Foster, and bassist George Mraz. Playing the Nelson Riddle role of arranger and/or conductor on eight of the 13 tunes is Manny Albam, who favors subtle art-music settings rather than slam-bang rave-ups. These emotionally suggestive settings seem to bring out the best in Lovano, who plays each phrase as if it carried a slightly different message. When he stretches out the notes on George Gershwin's "Someone to Watch Over Me" with a perfect intimation of desire and need, he recalls the lyrics so effectively that there's no need for anyone to articulate them. --Geoffrey Himes

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CD Reviews

Lovano is Lovano
ornen | Norway | 07/15/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This player, one of today's most brilliant jazz improvisers, does not make one record like the other. And still, he manages to make them all "right". If you are looking at this record because of the "Celebrating Sinatra" title, this music might surprise or provoke you. This is Lovano and his band playing, so don't expect them to play the music without making it personal. I love this, and I think most Lovano fans will. The sound is great, as one would expect, and the subtle arrangements are heart-pleasing. This is modern and classic, all at the same time. Perhaps not quite the thing for those swooner/crooner/jazz conservativists, though?"
Sublime transformation
brad smith | Tampa, FL | 04/16/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Released when Sinatra tributes were a big fad, a few years before the chairman of the board expired, Lovano's heartfelt paean to one of the greatest singers is an art-music triumph. It didn't sell very well when new, probably because the Sinatra market was saturated with more accessible product and word of mouth pegged this off-beat gem as not quite what some may have expected. No one should mistake this as yet another schmaltzy reworking of Sinatra standards. Instead, it's an artistic transformation by a top rank improviser of songs that Sinatra made famous. But Lovano takes them all a step beyond. Aided by low-key string arrangements by Manny Albam, Lovano soars lightly over the usual Sinatra repertoire. He creates moods, paints abstract sound pictures and makes jazz statements like the master saxophonist he's become over the past decade since signing with Blue Note. If you see this used, pick it up."