|All Artists: Joe Lovano|
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 1
Label: Blue Note Records
Original Release Date: 1/1/2008
Re-Release Date: 9/2/2008
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Styles: Modern Postbebop, Bebop
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
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4256 reasons why | southern ohio | 09/03/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"joe lovano's music is the embodiement of taste, all of his albums are top notch, symphonica is no different. the thing i notice here more than anywhere else, is the gil evans influence shining through[duke ellingtons sound of love].this is a classy album, his ballad playing is 1st class and surely influenced by ben webster. joe does have a fairly original tone. when hes muscular ,he sounds a lot like joe henderson ,and on ballads the webster and dexter gordon tone comes through. this is split pretty evenly between ballads mid tempo and fast tempo numbers. but that duke ellingtons sound of love is in the upper teir . if you like gil evans or maria schnieder, this is in that leauge, well done."
On and off
Matthew Miller | New York, New York | 09/29/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Although Charlie Parker beat everyone to it with his "with strings" album, it seems that the orchestral sound has come into fashion recently. Michael Brecker's "Wide Angles" set the bar (very high I might add), though more recently Chris Potter tried a similar set up on "Song for Anyone" and Chick Corea and Gary Burton augmented part of their most recent effort together with an orchestra. Now, Joe Lovano can too say that he has played with the extended orchestration of a symphonic big band. I would say he does so with mixed success.
Right off the bat, I found the album somewhat unsettling. The opening number, a ballad entitled "Emperor Jones", is just teeming with schmaltz. The strings behind Lovano are about as sappy and cliche as is possible, and the song suffers because of it. It highlights a problem with the way some musicians have tried to use orchestras on their albums. Brecker didn't have a piano player on "Wide Angles" instead he had a tightly orchestrated extended band, that sometimes just gave him chords to play over and sometime where integral parts of the melody. Brecker used the strings right, they were never superfluous, at any moment they added to the mix, either as part of the rhythm section or like a lead horn section would. On "Symphonica" however, the strings are an afterthought. Lovano is playing with the piano, bass and drums (playing pretty well actually) but the strings are playing by themselves. There is no serious interplay, and mostly they just sound tacky. Luckily there a large sections where the orchestra does not play a large part.
This album, however, is not all bad. Lovano is a monster of a player, and there are moments where he really shines. He has a great, deep tone that he uses really well. His solo on "Alexander the Great", is really something to hear, as is his dueling horns with an alto player from the band on that track. (I should point out that "Alexander the Great" sticks out as being a great song here at least in part because the orchestra didn't play much during it). He also offers some very solid soprano playing on two tracks. In short, he does not disappoint himself. The handful of musicians with solos also do a great job.
Ultimately, this is not a bad album per se, just not quite as solid as I would have hoped. Lovano is great, and some of his recent albums are really excellent (the duet with Hank Jones is spectacular as is work with McCoy Tyner on "Quartet"), but I dont think this one lives up quite as much. I have given it four stars because Lovano plays over the orchestra, and he is, of course, spectacular."
Tonal beauty and variety.
monte | in your mind | 10/13/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Sooner or later, most jazz musicians end up playing with strings.
Here, the saxophonist Joe Lovano can be heard with a symphony orchestra and also a big band.
Although saxophonist Joe Lovano has recorded with strings before ("Classic Ellington" with Simon Rattle and the Birmingham Symphony, Gunther Schuller on Rush Hour, Celebrating Sinatra with Manny Albam), this is his first album documenting his own compositions played with orchestral backing.
The allbum features the WDR Big Band and Rundfunk Orchestra, arrangements by Michael Abene, and in addition to Lovano, alto player Karolina Strassmayer (who indulges in a spirited saxophone joust with him on his `Alexander the Great'), guitarist Paul Shigihara and pianist Frank Chastenier.
One of the qualities that have made Joe Lovano such a major figure in the contemporary jazz landscape has been his ability to absorb a huge swathe of jazz's stylistic spectrum, from straight swing to free jazz, and recast the results with his own distinctive signature. That process is at work again here in arguably the most ambitious project he has undertaken.
This may be a little polite for some jazz listeners, lacking the grit and adventurousness characterising Lovano's outings with the Paul Motian Trio or even some of his earlier Blue Note recordings, but it should please those who like their jazz tasteful, elegant and restrained.
Lovano performs his own compositions, ranging from adventurously conservative to conservatively avant-garde.
The effect is rich, romantic and a little self-indulgent.