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Joe Lovano/Dave Douglas "Sound Prints" catches Wayne Shorter spirit

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Tuesday May 12, 2015

From Wall Street Journal
By Martin Johnson

*‘Sound Prints: Live at Monterey Jazz Festival’ Review
A short—but impressive—live recording from saxophonist Joe Lovano and trumpeter Dave Douglas*

For nearly two decades, saxophonist Joe Lovano and trumpeter Dave Douglas have been two of the leading figures in the contemporary jazz scene, and their career arcs are parallel. Both have built and maintained a mainstream following while frequently exploring the outer edges of jazz. Yet until recently, they have rarely played together. Mr. Douglas played on Mr. Lovano’s 2001 recording, “Flights of Fancy: Trio Fascination: Edition Two” and both men were briefly members of the SFJAZZ Collective in the late ’00s when that repertory group performed music by such jazz greats as the pianists Thelonious Monk and McCoy Tyner and the saxophonist Wayne Shorter.

Four years ago, Messrs. Douglas and Lovano formed a quintet called Sound Prints; the name is a variation on Mr. Shorter’s signature composition, “Footprints.” Unlike the SFJAZZ Collective, Sound Prints did original compositions, often inspired by those in Mr. Shorter’s vast catalog. For Mr. Douglas, who is 52 years old, this is familiar territory; “Stargazer” (Arabesque, 1997) took a similar approach to the saxophonist’s music. For Mr. Lovano, who is 62, Mr. Shorter’s complex yet accessible rhythms are a cornerstone influence in both his playing and his composing.

Although short, the recording is impressive in several ways. For one, this ensemble doesn’t sound like a side project, though each of the members is involved in bands that occupy more of their time. There’s an ensemble unity throughout and a sense of spontaneity, even on the Shorter tunes. The tight, intuitive playing of the band liberates it from the mustiness that often accompanies tribute efforts—and that is so appropriate for Mr. Shorter’s music and spirit. He is always pushing toward new and innovative sounds for small-group jazz, and this band reflects those ambitions nicely.

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