Jazz is essentially an African-American folk art, elements not lost on Joe Lovano as he presents this all-original program of progressive music. His updated quintet Us Five is one of his freshest units in some time, with bassist Esperanza Spalding, the criminally underrated pianist James Weidman, and two stir-the-pot drummers in Francisco Mela and Otis Brown III. Together they fulfill Lovano's vision as a band that is not afraid to take many chances, stay within a bop-based tradition, and cut loose on many levels in terms of adding diverse elements to this mix of music.
One of the marvelous, revolutionary things about jazz is the manner in which regeneration is written into its DNA. Jazz musicians may play in the same tunes or in the same style for all of their careers, yet they still make music new every time they play. If done sincerely, the art of improvisation makes art continually new. A great jazz musician changes his invention as life changes him.
American sax giant Joe Lovano is at Ronnie Scott's this weekend with this unusual band, in which he plays reeds alongside regular pianist James Weidman, bass and two drummers. It's Lovano's 21st album for Blue Note - and one of his freest, letting group relations go where they will. The melodies are full of character: the wheeling theme of the title track unfolds over a piano vamp, with an eerie, nursery rhyme-like motif as the countermelody.
LIONEL RICHIE“Just Go”(Island Def Jam) Lionel Richie is a one-man service economy through much of “Just Go,” his solicitous new album. He wants to make sure you’re comfortable, fulfilled and secure in his devotion. “I am not okay/Unless you’re okay,” he declares in one ballad, “I’m Not Okay.” On the lightly Caribbean-flavored title track — produced by Akon and now on the Hot Adult Contemporary chart — he sings, “I’m here to take that stress from you.” Then he offers to cook a meal, make the bed and spirit you by sailboat to the Bahamas, where he’ll make good on the promise of a massage.