Release Date: Jan 8, 2013
Record label: Blue Note
Genre(s): Jazz, Jazz Instrument, Modern Creative, Post-Bop, Straight-Ahead Jazz, Saxophone Jazz
Saxophonist Joe Lovano's vast experience gives him a profound awareness of what jazz has been, and feeds a fertile imagination for what it can be. Cross Culture is more or less the two-drummers band that made the excellent Bird Songs in 2011 – with Esperanza Spalding putting in a bass appearance, and gifted west African guitarist Lionel Loueke guesting – in a session celebrating idioms and instruments from all over the world. Lovano's Ornette Coleman-influenced melodic ear runs free against loose-tempo drumming on Myths and Legends, and explores a kind of abstract blues with Loueke on the title track.
Joe Lovano's third album featuring his Us Five quintet, 2013's Cross Culture, furthers the adventurous collective aesthetic the saxophonist developed on 2009's Folk Art and 2011's Bird Songs. Once again working with drummers Francisco Mela and Otis Brown III, pianist James Weidman, and bassist Esperanza Spalding, Lovano also employs bassist Peter Slavov on a few tracks here, as well as West African guitarist Lionel Loueke. The result is an album of exploratory jazz that is often more about group interplay on various musical themes rather than straightforward improvisation on melodic compositions -- though there is that, too.
Joe Lovano has a burly, garrulous way with his tenor sax, a big man’s style around the horn that is nevertheless nimble and athletic. His touch can be light, but the overall sound of a Lovano band is wide and generous. And that’s certainly true of this latest release from the leader’s working quintet. Us Five has that big sound: James Weidman plays piano with a sprawling expansiveness, either Esperanza Spalding or Peter Slovov lays it thick on bass, the dual percussion attack of Otis Brown and Francisca Mela covers everything, and then there’s the inclusion on some tracks of guitarist Lionel Louke.
JOE LOVANO US FIVE “Cross Culture” (Blue Note) Most jazz musicians are flexible: it’s a philosophical requirement of the job. At 60, Joe Lovano is an extreme case, moving toward universality. Long ago he developed a tenor saxophone sound for his temperament. It rolls and smears and smokes, all width, rhythmic unto itself; it can fit in or accommodate.