Joe Lovano's High-Flying Musical Homage

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Monday April 25, 2011


Joe Lovano’s High-Flying Musical Homage

Sax great performs at Anthology Wednesday with his US Five band

By George Varga
April 23, 2011

Joe Lovano’s status as one of the top saxophonists in jazz has been a matter of record for several decades, as befits a masterful musician whose past musical collaborators range from Woody Herman, Charlie Haden and Dave Brubeck to Mose Allison, Branford Marsalis and McCoy Tyner. An eclectic’s eclectic, he has also been featured on albums by such diverse pop artists as k.d. lang, Lou Rawls and Juliette Greco.

Lovano is now on tour to promote ‘Bird Songs,’ his highly ambitious and rewarding Charlie Parker tribute album. When Lovano performs Wednesday night at Anthology — his first headlining San Diego appearance since 2007 — he’ll be accompanied by perhaps his best band yet. That band, US Five, is showcased on “Bird Songs,” an album that simultaneously salutes and extends bebop pioneer Parker’s lofty musical legacy.

US Five features pianist James Weidman, Finnish bassist Petar Slavov and dual drummers Francisco Mela and Otis Brown III. The band’s lineup has remained intact for several years, with the exception of newcomer Slavov, who replaces former US Five bassist (and 2011 surprise Best New Artist Grammy Award winner) Esperanza Spalding.

On album and on stage, US Five plays with the same blend of fire and finesse as its acclaimed leader. There’s good reason, then, to expect swift musical ignition when Lovano and his band perform at the all-ages Anthology.

Read the full article here