4 March 2012, republished on Joe Lovano's web site 12 March 2012 **** Front Page

Joe Lovano in concert in Málaga

By Tapani Lausti

Joe Lovano walked on to the stage looking relaxed, waving his tenor sax as a way of greeting to the clearly enthusiastic audience. From the very first notes one could feel the power of an artist at the height of his creative powers. Having enjoyed his albums over so many years I was expecting a great concert, and still he managed to surprise. I had never heard him live before. I immediately felt the music with the whole of my being. After the first number, the audience was shouting “olé!”.

The music included compositions by Dexter Gordon, Paul Motian and others, played with a breathtaking dexterity mixed with some fascinating and often humorous exchanges with the spectacular Cuban drummer Francisco Mela. And then there was a special moment of wonder when Lovano burst into a tribute to the late great tenor saxophonist, Stan Getz. Lovano played a wonderful rendition of "Early Autumn" which was one of Getz's early hits with the Woody Herman orchestra in 1948. Lovano played the tune with an authority of a jazz great who included the whole history of jazz tenor sax in one amazing ballad performance. He brought out the beauty of Ralph Burns's song in a way that makes one wonder why so few jazz musicians have included this gorgeous melody in their repertoire.

The concert got a personal touch as Lovano announced that Mela had recently become a father. The newly-born daughter had been named Naima. Lovano played John Coltrane's tune of that name with touching beauty, followed by another Coltrane composition, "Peace on Earth". This reminded me of a wonderful album which I played at home after the concert. It is pianist Steve Kuhn's Mostly Coltrane (ECM 2009) on which Lovano appears as the guest artist.

The British jazz critic John L. Walters recently wrote this about Lovano: “American saxophonist Joe Lovano is one of the most consistent jazz musicians of the past decades: a prolific Blue Note artist whose saxophone style is somehow simultaneously modern and traditional. Though he doubles on several reed instruments, his tenor sax is the main event, and he can dominate a quartet in the grand tradition of Rollins and Coltrane.” Amen to that.

After one of Lovano's recent London concerts, another British jazz critic, John Fordham, drew attention to how live jazz and the recorded version are such different species. This is how I felt after the Málaga concert. Lovano's albums, however much I had enjoyed them all, had not fully prepared me for the live concert experience. For hours afterwards this experience almost glowed inside me.


See Joe Lovano's web site

See Wikipedia on Joe Lovano

See John Fordham's review of Joe Lovano's latest album Bird Songs.

See All About Jazz on Francisco Mela

Go to my archive: Music


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