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Lovano, Saxophonists Showcased in Québec

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Wednesday November 16, 2011

from downbeat.com

Lovano, Saxophonists Showcased in Québec
By: John Murph

The saxophone was the focal point of the 5th annual Festival de Jazz de Québec, and from Oct. 20–30, three distinct major-league voices—Dave Liebman, Maceo Parker and Joe Lovano—set the bar. Festival President and founder Gino St. Marie also invited 60 Québécois saxophonists to flesh out the event, which occupied 27 venues throughout the area. The festival reached a new benchmark this year hit by securing major sponsorship from TD Canada Trust and Banque Nationale du Canada. St. Marie also executed another keen strategy by having the event several months after other major Canadian jazz festivals. “There [was] no festival in October,” St. Marie said. “All the international jazz musicians are available during that time.”

During the latter days of the fest, Lovano captivated a packed house at the city’s beautiful Palais Montcalm venue. He and his exciting Us Five ensemble illustrated an evolved sense of group accord and bristling interplay since the release of 2009’s Folk Art and this year’s Bird Songs (both on Blue Note). Those two albums comprised much of the set list. Lovano concentrated on tenor saxophone as he powered his tart, hearty sound and whiplashing improvisations over combustive-yet-swinging drummers Otis Brown III and Francisco Mela. The drummers’ stupendous ricochet of quicksilver rhythms and mesmerizing role exchanges stole the show from Lovano, especially on the loping groove of “Folk Art,” and Charlie Parker’s blistering “Passport” and jovial “Barbados.”

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