Saturday January 26, 2013
Lovano provides energetic jazz explorations on ‘Cross Culture’
“Cross Culture” is an album that requires several listenings before a judgment is passed. It is a lean exploration of jazz that is not eased by pretty melodies or rich arrangements. Instead, it is a display of the broad range of talents of saxophonist Joe Lovano. With his two-drummer band, Us Five, he explores 10 originals and a look at Billy Strayhorn’s “Star-Crossed Lovers.” Us Five usually has more than that number, and its personnel changes, mostly in the bass chair shared by Esperanza Spalding and Peter Slavov. Just as the band changes, so does its style. “Royal Roost,” for instance, is the more-straight-ahead piece of the album. But “Myths and Legends” opens in a ballad-like fashion before moving into a quicker, polyrhythmic direction. That rhythmic strength is steadily created by drummers Otis Brown III and Francisco Mela. Throughout the album, Lovano plays on tenor and G mezzo-soprano saxes in addition to the new autochrome. He even adds some percussion on “Drum Chant,” a showpiece for Brown and Mela. “Cross Culture” is an album that is relentless in its energy.
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