Cleveland-born sax star and quintet on fire in 'Cross Culture

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Friday January 11, 2013


Joe Lovano: Cleveland-born sax star and quintet on fire in ‘Cross Culture’
By: Chuck Yarborough

Cleveland-born Joe Lovano occasionally makes it back to his hometown for gigs, and those are always treats for jazz enthusiasts. Sadly, his current schedule, which runs through December 2013, doesn’t have a Northeast Ohio date. After listening to his newest release with his Us Five quintet, ‘Cross Culture,’ which boasts 10 Lovano-composed songs, here’s hoping that changes. Working his way through a variety of saxophones, Lovano and his group showcase a sometimes dissonant, sometimes syncopated, sometimes time-signature-ignoring collection of free-form, listenable jazz. The core group features pianist James Weidman, bassists Esperanza Spalding and Peter Slavov (never together, which would be REALLY interesting), drummers Otis Brown and Francisco Mela and guitarist Lionel Loueke. Truthfully, there are times that Brown and Mela, who DO play together, sometimes overpower the music, but that’s because in Lovano’s mind ALL instruments are lead instruments. Grade: A

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