Joe Lovano's 'Liquid Phrasing'

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Monday April 23, 2018

From The Irish Times

Joe Lovano: ‘A lot of the music today is computer driven ‘” a numbers racket’
By: Cormac Larkin

‘I was really fortunate’, says Lovano firmly. ‘My Dad grew up in that generation, the same age as Coltrane and Miles. He heard Charlie Parker play, he heard Lester Young live in the room, he jammed with Coltrane!’ He pauses to let that sink in. ‘Those experiences were really powerful man, and as I was growing up, he was telling those stories and he had all the records’.

But there is something else in Lovano’s sound – a big-hearted romanticism that distinguishes him from many of his more Anglo-Saxon colleagues – which he attributes more to his mother’s influence.


It’s an approach to melody, a rare ability to ‘sing’ with his horn, that has made Lovano one of the most respected ‘” and most imitated ‘” saxophonists of the post-Coltrane era. In particular, his playing with legendary drummer Paul Motian’s trio, which also included guitarist Bill Frisell, is suffused with a yearning, romantic quality that made the Motian trio one of the most influential groups of the last quarter century.

‘We played like a little orchestra,’ he says of the bass-less trio that was a major part of his life from the early 1980s until the great drummer’s death in 2011, ‘and my role was really to sing the piece of music we were playing. That taught me a lot, and it has stayed with me’.

‘Sometimes your instrument can overpower you,’ he continues, ‘and having that approach really gave me a lot of different ideas. Now it’s not so much playing the saxophone as trying to play the music, you know, and to follow the sound in the music.’

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