Feb 4, 2021
Saxophonist Joe Lovano never ceases to amaze, as his compositions, performance and style continue to grow and evolve as he moves from project to project. Whether he is leading his US5 Quintet in Bird-like flights of fancy, or co-leading the Shorter-esque Sound Prints with trumpeter Dave Douglas, Lovano finds ways to constantly give us more, and better, music as the years go on.
His second album with his group Trio Tapestry, Garden of Expression (on ECM Records), builds on the harmonically open, rhythmically free, and spiritually involving music he recorded on 2019’s eponymous debut. The group is Lovano on tenor and soprano saxophones, tarogato, and gongs; Marilyn Crispell on piano; and Carmen Castaldi providing color on drums.
The record sounds as great as you might hope, made in the highly responsive acoustics of the Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI in Lugano, Switzerland under the direction of Manfred Eicher. All of the tunes on Garden of Expression are written by Lovano, and while they are of a hushed, shimmering sound, they have strong melodies and a haunting effect on the listener.
In our spirited talk, Joe favorably compares the present trio and its sound to the music he made, over a period of 30 years, in Paul Motian’s trio with Bill Frisell. Those classic recordings of everything from show tunes to avant-garde themes were also made by a bass-less band, and in the absence of a rhythmic pulse on the bottom, there is room for exploration of time and tension that make the recording exceptional.
Podcast 794 is my conversation with Joe, recorded the day after a heavy snowstorm blanketed his home in New York State with more than a foot of snow. We talk about Garden of Expression and Trio Tapestry, as well as his recent recording with the Marcin Wasilewski Trio on ECM, Arctic Riff, his plans for life after the pandemic is over (hint – Newport 2021, anyone?), and previews a new Sound Prints album due this spring on Greenleaf Records. Musical selections include "West of the Moon" and "Dream on That" from Garden of Expression, the Lovano-penned "On the Other Side" from Arctic Riff, and "Powerhouse" from the US5 release Folk Art.
Joe Lovano will be live streaming from the Village Vanguard with Tyshawn Sorey & Bill Frisell on February 5 and 6. Both sets will be available for 24 hours each.