Tuesday, December 3, 2013
A Label Reborn + Big Band Joe
Now, Verse Music Group and Naxos of America are combining to re-issue the label's music in digital, CD and vinyl formats. The initial 6 CDs came in early September with 3 more in the coming weeks and 6 more after New Year's Day.
Booker Ervin would go on to cut a series of strong recordings for Don Schlitten at Prestige Records that featured the great section of Jaki Byard (piano), Richard Davis (bass) and Alan Dawson (drums). He finished his career at Pacific Jazz and Blue Note Records before succumbing to liver disease in 1970. Listening to his debut, one can hear a style fully formed that he would maintain throughout his career.
Nina Simone (1933-2003) would go to create many memorable songs and concerts and one can hear the seeds of her long career on this debut recording. If you don't have it, the sound quality on this reissue is stellar.
Other releases in the "first wave" include Dexter Gordon's "Daddy Plays the Horn", "The Jazz Experiments of Charles Mingus" from 1953, Chris Connor's "Sings Lullaby for Lovers" and the short (16 minutes) "Modern Quintet" from bassist/cellist Oscar Pettiford (originally released as a 10-inch Lp, it's worth it). There is not a clunker among them. For more information, go to bethlehemrecords.com.
Frank Vaganée) sound splendid on these 8 compositions by Lovano who also plays tenor saxophone throughout as well as 1 track that features his aulochrome (a soprano saxophone with 1 reed and 2 pipes - go to www.aulochrome.com/aulochrome to find out more).
The entire program is dedicated to Lovano's mother Josephine (Giuseppina) Verzi Lovano who passed away in May 2012. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, her familiar roots were from Sicily and those roots reman an important touchstone for the saxophonists. 2 of the tracks, "Streets of Naples" and "Viva Caruso", come from his 2002 CD dedicated to the life and music of the great vocalist Enrico Caruso. That, too was a large ensemble effort (Goldstein appeared on accordion). The pieces here retain the "folk" influence of the previous versions (especially "Streets of Naples") while the new arrangements emphasize section playing. Throughout the program, Lovano solos with abandon - in fact, the feeling of joy infuses most of the material. Even ballad pieces, such as "Sanctuary Park", glisten with creativity. The title track, first recorded by Lovano's Us Five, opens the program - it is also a ballad and has Lovano's most expansive solo with horn and reed voicings that display the influence of Gil Evans on the arranger. The rhythm section (guitarist Hendrik Breackman, pianist Nathalie Loriers, bassist Jos Machtel and drummer Toni Vitacolonna) are also stellar throughout with the drummer's easy yet forceful "swing" supporting and prodding the soloists. "Big Ben", dedicated to Ben Webster, has a wonderful moment in the middle of the solos where 4 soprano saxophonists trade "licks.
Joe Lovano has a lage discography, filled with stunning trio efforts, work with Paul Motian, plus his "swing" nonet and other large ensemble recordings. The work done here by the saxophonist, by Gil Goldstein and the Brussels Jazz Orchestra is by no means a retrospective. Like many jazz musicians, Joe Lovano is continually exploring, finding alternative approaches to his original pieces. "Wild Beauty" is an apt description of this music and Lovano's seemingly limitless quest.
As I write this, Joe Lovano begins a week-long residency (12/03-12/08) at The Stone in New York City to celebrate his 60th birthday. For more information about that and other matters Lovano, go to www.joelovano.com.