Friday February 01, 2013
Joe Lovano and Us Five at Dazzle Jazz Club, 01/30/13 (review)
By: Same DeLeo
The goatee and barrel-chested frame may be trademarks, but musically, jazz master Joe Lovano is a chameleon.
Whether Hammond B3 jazz, big band, hard bop, avant garde or world music, Grammy winner Lovano has found his voice through it all for going on five decades now. Wednesday night at Dazzle, Lovano proved he’s in no hurry to slow down after celebrating his 60th birthday last month (nor to give up his orange-, black- and white-striped shirt circa 1988). Lovano’s Us Five band played a challenging 7 p.m. set that had the sellout crowd both engaged and slightly off balance, with fiery bursts from Lovano’s tenor and a rhythm section that included two drummers and fellow Grammy winner Esperanza Spalding on bass.
The set drew largely from the band’s three albums together — “Folk Art,” “Bird Songs” and “Cross Culture,” the latter released on the Blue Note label this month. In opener “Us Five,” Lovano chopped the song up into shorter bits with longer pauses while stalking the stage as if in search of reactions from the audience. Pianist James Weidman echoed Lovano’s phrases deftly on “Blessings in May.” Drummers Francisco Mela and Otis Brown III syncopated their beats masterfully during the sharp-angled “In a Spin,” while Lovano played with the tension of the composition, building it and letting it go.
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