4 Stars for Joe Lovano at Ronnie Scott's in London

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Friday April 01, 2011

By: John Fordham

Joe Lovano has said that he doesn’t play free jazz, he plays jazz, free. On his superb new album Bird Songs, a set of adventurous interpretations of Charlie Parker classics, the gifted American saxophonist demonstrates what he means, but keeps the mercurial source material explicitly displayed. Lovano and the Us Five band took the policy of playing jazz free even further out. The set was less of a seductive balance of surprise and familiarity than the recording, but if bebop fans might have fancied hearing those iconic tunes more firmly nailed, there was a fascinating balance of another kind ‘” between solo and group improvisation, with the latter vividly represented in the fast-shifting conversation between the two drummers, Francisco Mela and Otis Brown III.

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