The The Summary (A Suite for Pops) - Joe Lovano, Jones, Thad
Stella by Starlight - Joe Lovano, Washington, Ned
I Waited for You - Joe Lovano, Fuller, Walter
Like Someone in Love - Joe Lovano, Burke, J.
Early Autumn - Joe Lovano, Burns
Countdown - Joe Lovano, Coltrane, John
Saxophonist Joe Lovano has covered a waterfront of high-conceptual settings on record, ranging from orchestral efforts to protean trios, from strings-and-voices tributes to Broadway-based projects. I'm All for You has a co... more »ncept going for it too--it's a ballads album that captures Lovano in his most elemental mode, playing tough but tender tenor in a conventional quartet setting featuring piano eminence Hank Jones, bassist George Mraz, and drummer Paul Motian. Lovano offers some of his most brilliant and heartfelt phrasing on gorgeous readings of classic standards and fresh re-workings of modern gems such as Thelonious Monk's "Monk's Mood" and John Coltrane's "Countdown." Lifted by Jones's supremely graceful harmonic touches and Motian's breezy sideways shifts and deceptive power, the music here is far from standard issue. --Lloyd Sachs« less
Saxophonist Joe Lovano has covered a waterfront of high-conceptual settings on record, ranging from orchestral efforts to protean trios, from strings-and-voices tributes to Broadway-based projects. I'm All for You has a concept going for it too--it's a ballads album that captures Lovano in his most elemental mode, playing tough but tender tenor in a conventional quartet setting featuring piano eminence Hank Jones, bassist George Mraz, and drummer Paul Motian. Lovano offers some of his most brilliant and heartfelt phrasing on gorgeous readings of classic standards and fresh re-workings of modern gems such as Thelonious Monk's "Monk's Mood" and John Coltrane's "Countdown." Lifted by Jones's supremely graceful harmonic touches and Motian's breezy sideways shifts and deceptive power, the music here is far from standard issue. --Lloyd Sachs
"The first Joe Lovano disc I bought was Village Life, way back in 1986. I was new to jazz at the time, and I couldn't make much of it. But I stuck with Mr. Lovano, and I've come to reap the benefits of artist loyalty with this spectacular disc.Lovano has always been a wonderful ballad player; to hear him in this intimate context with players of the absolute highest caliber is a very special treat. Lovano has a kind of street-smart, blue-collar, no-nonsense approach that enables him to imbue his ballad playing with complete sincerity, devoid of sentimentality or irony. Just as importantly, in his middle-to-late years as an artist, he has found his way to a mode of expression uniquely his own: deeply honest, gently persuasive, and totally heartfelt. The tone he achieves is nothing short of remarkable. What strikes me about it is how conversational it is, while at the same time being subtly profound. It's almost as if you're casually chatting with him and all of a sudden he drops some major bomb about postmodern hermeneutics, absolutely apposite, effortlessly arising out of the topic at hand. No in-your-face pyrotechnics, no shouting-at-the-top-of-his-lungs declamation; just beautiful, reasoned, nuanced articulation of the highest order.One might say he's mellowed in a similar way to Joe Henderson in his latter years (although he sounds almost nothing like him). One thing I love about his playing is his gorgeous vibrato. What makes it stand out is his ability to use it with absolute judiciousness all the while making it sound entirely natural. I would venture to say that of all living saxophone players (save, perhaps, Pharoah Sanders) he has the most distinctive approach to his instrument.A note about his bandmates, Hank Jones (piano), George Mraz (double-bass), and Paul Motian (drums). All, of course, are first-rate jazz musicians. Of the three, Lovano has played most with Motian, having been a long-time member of his trio. This familiarity enables the two to achieve an instrumental simpatico among the most brilliant in the history of jazz. Motian and Lovano, seemingly effortlessly, enact an elaborate dancing back-and-forth vibe that marks these proceedings as something entirely special. Lovano has also played quite a bit with Mraz, always a player of impeccable taste, timing, and timbre. Hank Jones, of the brothers Jones, lifts this session into the stratosphere. A wise and canny choice for the piano chair, Jones seems to have lost none of his magic touch as accompanist and solo performer, desite his advanced years. Although he and Lovano haven't played together much, Jones brings such a deep knowledge of the entire history of jazz to this session that he always seems ready with the absolutely appropriate move be it in a comping or solo capacity.A note about the production. This disc was recorded live to two-track analog tape. No headphones. No elaborate tweaking of the sound image. Not that I'm necessarily opposed to such procedures; it's just that this kind of stripped down auditory approach only works with players of the absolute highest accomplishment, and often falls flat unless everyone is absolutely on and into it. Thankfully, these players are, and the results more than justify the risks of such a high-wire approach. What you get is the warmth and immediacy of an intimate club date without the (often) compromised sound and annoying audience interaction.I'm entirely taken by this spectacular disc, certainly the best from Lovano in many years, and perhaps his best ever. Do give it a listen."
Penetrating the Generational Gap
Infinite Catalyst | Monument, CO | 05/17/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I am a 22 year-old jazz enthusiast. In my younger years I would incessantly make fun of my father for his gargantuan jazz CD collection, his nerdy mess-organization, and his defense of his passion, "you don't have the aesthetic appreciation to understand this music." While it was all part of his sense of humor, and he was joking at least in part, there was a huge amount of truth to his facetious saying. Jazz is like coffee, or cigarettes, or old scotch. It is an acquired taste, and every person has his or her own preferences. However, there are generational gaps of preference. Lovano, for the most part, is straight up for the baby boomers. His sax is mellow, his tone thick and sultry, breathy and creamy. His style is patient and minimal, subtle and quaint, uneventful like a slow moving train. The percussion in this CD reminds me of Larry Mullin with U2, definitely not sound-wise, but tempo and contribution-wise. There are no fancy fills, no snazzy high hat tricks, just plain ambient classic jazz drums. The rest of the group all plays their parts, but again, Lovano is the central attraction here. I STILL LOVE THIS CD SOMEHOW, SOMEWAY. I DON'T KNOW, I CAN'T UNDERSTNAD WHY I DIDN'T LIKE CLAM CHOWDER UNTIL I WAS 20 . . . Lovano draws awfully close to Pharoah Sanders in tone here. A couple songs sound like he really spent some time keeping the sound raw in the studio and not doctoring it too much. The pay-off is huge. If you like mellow, predictable, tone rich jazz, then this CD was tailored specifically for your tastes. 4 and ½ stars."
What modern jazz should be about
P. Mayfield | 03/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Jazz aficionados are wont to go on about the importance of innovation in the music - the "sound of surprise," as it were. And more often than not, the innovations most prized are those that go into the (now over-explored) realms of the weird and abstract. But there is another sort of creativity in jazz that is all too often ignored -- the search, not for the new, but for the true. And for an improvising artist, the most important truth is the discovery of an honest, unique voice, a sound that is distinctive, a sound that is the true expression of the musician's unique personality. Tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano is one of the few modern players in jazz whose sound is immediately recognizable and wholly original. And for that matter, stunningly beautiful too.
Much of "I'm All for You" is a reflection on the romanticism of great tenor-men of yore. The album opens with the title track, an homage to the iconic Coleman Hawkins recording of Body and Soul. Later, Lovano offers a nod to Stan Getz with "Early Autumn," the song that made Getz a star with the Woody Herman band decades before Lovano took a chair in Herman's Thundering Herd. And though the album is devoted to ballads, Lovano closes the program with one of Coltrane's most supercharged burners, "Countdown." Lovano cuts the tempo by more than half, and though the tune still isn't a ballad per se, it is so leisurely by contrast to the original, that it fits in perfectly with the relaxed atmosphere of the disc.
At the keyboard is one of the last of the true greats of jazz, Hank Jones, whose playing combines the urbanity of Teddy Wilson with the modern jazz harmonies of Thelonious Monk. Jones may not be as nimble as he once was, but his playing is more wise and wistful than ever. Worth the price of admission is a moment in Jones' solo on "Like Someone in Love" when he slips into a gentle stride that, just in the left hand alone, paints an achingly beautiful picture of the last dancers on the floor.
Lovano has a quirky and elliptical lyricism. The melodies he creates are unpredictable, but no less melodic for their unexpected turns and jogs. And then there is his tone, gauzy and soft-edged like something from a half-remembered dream. Many notes fall away with that gentle sigh Ben Webster gave phrases when he was in a boudoir frame of mine. And yet, the music never flags or grows sleepy, as Lovano's playing is always alive with the anxious, searching quality of John Coltrane's best work.
So described, the virtues in Lovano's music might seem contradictory. But such apparent contradictions have often been the energy source for the best in jazz. The great musicians of jazz's golden age created music that was at the same time intellectually serious and unabashedly beautiful. Lovano has rediscovered that creative tension - no doubt in part because of his collaboration here with Jones, who never lost it. The record is a perfect balance of new and old, of the ascetic and the romantic. "I'm All for You" is what modern jazz can, and should, be all about. "
In Response to Mr. Chell
Todd M. Stellhorn | baltimore, MD | 08/30/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Unfortunately, along with the self-superior airs of the cliche "jazz critic", the only way Mr. Chell knows of praising his jazz idols is by cutting down other musicians. It's a strange esoteric inner-world were being compared to Lee Konitz (and by implication Warne Marsh) would be seen as being a negative. The fact that Joe Lovano sounds nothing like Sonny Stitt doesn't mean he isn't a giant on the tenor, and like Dexter Gordon Mr. Lovano has a sound that is immediately recognizable. Having your own distinct sound is nothing to sneeze at, and certainly is nothing to apologize for. Just as being in possesion of a closed mind and a narrow definition of greatness in the wonderful world of jazz is nothing to be proud of. Joe Lovano will without doubt be considered one of the greats, and that is as it should be."