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Joe Lovano: Touring the World of Music, Many Horns in Hand

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Friday July 15, 2011

From the San Francisco Classical Voice

Joe Lovano: Touring the World of Music, Many Horns in Hand
By Jeff Kallis

Joe Lovano’s love of music — and of the instruments, particularly saxophones, that he makes it on — transcends, if not prevents, any effort to link him to a particular kind of music. Introduced during his youth in Cleveland to modern jazz by Tony “Big T” Lovano, his saxophonist father, the younger Lovano began performing on tenor and alto horns and on clarinet with both organ trios and big bands, after attending the Berklee College of Music in Boston in the 1970s. In smaller ensembles, he collaborated with Third Stream patron Gunther Schuller and with such progressive visionaries as Ornette Coleman, Paul Motian, and Bill Frisell, as well as with fellow saxophonists, including Dave Liebman, Michael Brecker, and Ravi Coltrane. In 2008, Lovano replaced Joshua Redman in the celebrated SFJazz Collective, and he returns to Northern California later this month for the American premiere of a chamber piece composed for him by Mark-Anthony Turnage. The multi-reedman spoke with SFCV from a summer tour stop in Rome.

What are you playing for them over there?

I’m touring with my quintet, Us Five, doing music from my last two recordings, Folk Art and Bird Songs [Blue Note Records]. We’re doing the major festivals here in Europe, including the North Sea; one here in Rome; and one in Merano, Italy. Then we’re going on to Dinant, Belgium, where I’m hosting five days of a festival I helped program, in the birthplace of Adolphe Sax [who developed the saxophone in 1846]. Each night is real different and special. [Performers include Lovano’s wife, singer Judi Silvano, and saxophonists Steve Grossman and Charles Lloyd.] Us Five will feature a double-drummer configuration, with piano, bass, and myself on woodwinds. Outside of just the tenor saxophone, I’m playing a G mezzo-soprano sax and a táragató, a folk instrument, kind of a hybrid of a clarinet and a soprano sax, which has got a beautiful, earthy sound; in Hungary and Romania, it’s the instrument of choice for the gypsies. And I’m playing a new instrument that was just made by François Louis, who’s from Belgium. It’s called an aulochrome, and it’s a double-soprano saxophone that you can actually harmonize on.

Read the entire interview here