CD Bird Songs [Joe Lovano Us Five/Joe Lovano/Us Five] (CD 6994000),
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Bird Songs [Joe Lovano Us Five/Joe Lovano/Us Five]
Joe Lovano Us Five/Joe Lovano/Us Five
2. Donna Lee
4. Moose the Mooche
5. Lover Man
7. Ko Ko
8. Blues Collage: Carving the Bird/Bird Feathers/Bloomdido - (remix)
10. Dewey Square
11. Yardbird Suite
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 9058612
Personnel: Joe Lovano (alto saxophone, tenor saxophone); James Weidman (piano); Otis Brown III, Francisco Mela (drums, percussion).
Audio Mixers: James Farber; Joe Lovano.
Liner Note Author: Joe Lovano.
Recording information: Sear Sound, New York, NY (09/07/2010/09/08/2010).
Photographer: Jimmy Katz.
Joe Lovano has been sufficiently forward-looking to have earned the right to look backward on his 22nd album for Blue Note Records, marking his 20th anniversary with the label. Bird Songs presents songs associated with, written for, and, primarily, written by Bird, Charlie "Yardbird" Parker. Lovano employs his group Us Five, which includes pianist James Weidman, bassist Esperanza Spalding, and two drummers, Otis Brown III and Francisco Mela. Lovano himself plays tenor saxophone for the most part, not alto, which Parker did. That's an immediate hint to his approach. These may be Bird songs, but they are not played the way Bird played them. Lovano and crew tend to slow them down and consider them, as if appending musical footnotes; if Parker was the quintessential bebop player, this is a determinedly post-bop interpretation. Of course, the instrumentation has a lot to do with it, especially the busy clatter set up by the two drummers. The sound is spare enough to give Lovano plenty of room to explore Parker's themes or, in "Lover Man," to reconsider Parker's treatment of a standard. It all comes together in the 12-minute "Yardbird Suite" at the end, which affords both Weidman and Spalding room for their own statements. It's not surprising that Lovano, born the year before Charlie Parker died, would be so thoroughly familiar with his work and so willing to redefine it. ~ William Ruhlmann
Entertainment Weekly (p.80) - "[T]he quintet has the fire of youth in its belly....The vintage tunes inspire riskier improvs from Lovano..." -- Grade: B+
Down Beat (p.53) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[T]his project sparkles, normalizing Parker at the same time as illuminating -- through several brilliant devices -- aspects of his compositions and style we've become blind to through overexposure."
JazzTimes (p.45) - "It's a testament to Lovano and Us Five that they hit their ambitious marks without ever sounding contrived....[The tracks] have an unhurried pace that suits them, and Bird, very well."
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