Saxophonist Joe Lovano Taps Into His Music and Instruments

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Thursday August 11, 2011

The Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Saxophonist Joe Lovano taps into his music and instruments
By Bob Karlovits

Saxophonist Joe Lovano insists his music is more a creature of evolution than planning.

“It’s not that I am looking for new things,” says the jazz star who has performed in everything from big bands to a duo with Hank Jones. “It is just the experience I have had playing with so many different people: Paul Motian, Woody Herman, Freddie Hubbard, Mel Lewis.”

Lovano, 58, will show one of his approaches to music on Sunday at Hartwood Acres, when he appears with his group, Us Five, a quintet that features two drummers. It, too, is a display of a bit of the Lovano past.

He says he was doing a summer jazz workshop at Stanford University in California in 1998, when he was joined by pianist Cedar Walton along with percussionists Albert “Tootie” Heath and Billy Higgins. When they performed together, he found the double-drummer approach created a different and energizing sound.

It was a sound he, ultimately, wanted to approach again and put together a band featuring drummers Otis Brown III and Francisco Mela, pianist James Weidman and bassist Esperanza Spalding, who will miss this date and be replaced by Cameron Brown.

He admits the Heath-Higgins band “set the bar rather high,” but contends if the musicians take off after a concept in their own way, the work can be a success. It is more than simply playing an instrument, he says.

Read the entire interview here