Thursday, January 17, 2013

Joe Lovano UsFive - Cross Culture (Blue Note, 2012)

The exchange of cultural information has always been a vital part of the jazz legacy, and Joe Lovano’s UsFive group fully embraces this concept. Developing melodies and rhythms that draw from the music’s rich history, particularly bebop, while staying true to the rich tapestry of today’s music. Joe Lovano plays a wide variety of exotic wind instruments in addition to tenor saxophone, supported by two drummers, Otis Brown III, and Francisco Mela, James Weidman on piano and Peter Slavov or Esperanza Spalding on bass, with Lionel Loueke sitting in on guitar. “Blessings in May” opens the album with some nice upbeat tenor saxophone over strong dual drum rhythm. Lovano switches to soprano for the second half of the tune, taking flight with a swirling and sweeping sound. Fast and choppy saxophone and piano usher in “In a Spin.” The group develops a deep, muscular swing with rippling piano. Lovano switches instruments after the break to a nasal sounding instrument that gives the proceedings an exotic flavor. “Drum Chant” has a very cool two drum rhythm, with bass and guitar underpinning. Saxophone enters about two minutes in, bobbing and weaving amidst the fascinating and complex percussive texture. “Royal Roost” takes Lovano back to his bebop roots, swinging super hard pushed by galloping piano, bass and drums. Cross Culture -

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