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Joe Lovano Trio
Joe Lovano Trio
Joe Lovano Trio

Joe Lovano Trio
@ the Queen Elizabeth Hall
17 November 2019

Click an image to enlarge.

Joe Lovano biography

Joe Lovano was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1952, and began playing alto sax as a child. A prophetic early family photo is of the infant Joe cradled in his mother's arms along with a sax. His father, tenor saxophonist Tony “Big T” Lovano, schooled Joe not only in the basics but in dynamics and interpretation, and regularly exposed him to jazz artists traveling through such as Sonny Stitt, James Moody, Dizzy Gillespie, Gene Ammons, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. While still a teenager he immersed himself in the jam-session culture of Cleveland where organ trios were common and Texas tenor throw-downs a rite of passage. In high school he began to absorb the free jazz experiments of Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane and Jimmy Giuffre, and was greatly affected by the interaction, which occurred between the musicians.

Upon graduation from high school he attended the famed Berklee College of Music in Boston where he met and began playing with such future collaborators as John Scofield, Bill Frisell, and Kenny Werner. He had been searching for a way to incorporate the fire and spirituality of late-period John Coltrane into more traditional settings. At Berklee he discovered modal harmony: “My training was all be-bop, and suddenly there were these open forms with deceptive resolutions. That turned me on, the combination of that sound and what I came in there with. I knew what I wanted to work on after that.” In 1994 Lovano was given the prestigious “Distinguished Alumni Award” from Berklee and was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1998. Berklee also awarded Joe the first “Gary Burton Chair for Jazz Performance” in 2001.

Lovano’s first professional job after Berklee was, not surprisingly given his roots, with organist Lonnie Smith, which brought him to New York for his recording debut, followed by a stint with Brother Jack McDuff. This segued into a three year tour with the Woody Herman Thundering Herd from 1976 to 1979, culminating in “The 40th Anniversary Concert” at Carnegie Hall, which also features some of Lovano’s heroes and fellow saxophonists Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Flip Phillips, Al Cohn and Jimmy Giuffre.

After leaving the Herman Herd, Lovano settled in New York City where he continues to live. His early years there filled with jam sessions and rent gigs, but eventually he joined the Mel Lewis Orchestra for its regular Monday night concert at the Village Vanguard, playing from 1980 to 1992 and recording six albums with the Orchestra. In addition he joined the Paul Motian band in 1981 and has worked with John Scofield, Herbie Hancock, Elvin Jones, Charlie Haden, Carla Bley, Bobby Hutcherson, Billy Higgins, Dave Holland, Ed Blackwell, Michel Petrucciani, Lee Konitz, Abbey Lincoln, Tom Harrell, McCoy Tyner, Jim Hall, Bob Brookmeyer and many more.
His first high-profile gig that brought him national attention was with guitarist John Scofield's Quartet, with whom he recorded and toured for three years. Of his playing Scofield says, “He’s very sonically aware - he thinks about the effect different instruments and different personalities will have. He was perfect for what I was doing - his sense of swing and his tone reminded me of the older guys, in a really positive way.” He gained further exposure and renown, particularly in Europe, through his work in the trailblazing Paul Motian Trio, which also featured former Berklee classmate, guitarist Bill Frisell.

Lovano’s debut Blue Note release “Landmarks” (Blue Note 96108) was released in 1991 and featured guitarist John Abercrombie. Lovano’s first engagement as a leader (at the Village Vanguard), coincided with the release of that record. The critically acclaimed “From the Soul” (Blue Note 98636) followed with Michel Petrucciani, Dave Holland and the legendary Ed Blackwell.

In 2001, Joe Lovano received “Jazz Artist of the Year” honours for the 3rd time in both Critic’s & Reader’s polls in Down Beat magazine spurred by his acclaimed return to the trio format on “Flights of Fancy: Trio Fascination, Edition Two” (Blue Note CDP 27618). Here Lovano gathers four unique ensembles of some of his favourite collaborators for a distinctively varied take on the jazz trio. Lovano, who is featured on not only a panoply of woodwinds but on drums, gongs and percussion is joined by trio mates: Cameron Brown (bass) & Idris Muhammad (drums); Billy Drewes (soprano, alto flute, percussion) & Joey Baron (drums); Toots Thielemans (harmonica) & Kenny Werner (piano); Mark Dresser (bass) & Dave Douglas (trumpet). Combined with Lovano’s multi-instrumental facility the sonic palette these trios utilize is stunning in its scope. “The different trios that came out of these sessions were, for me, an expression of who I am as a musician,” Lovano says.

Joe Lovano Trio

Joe Lovano Trio

Joe Lovano Trio



Joe Lovano - Bird Songs Joe Lovano - Cross Culture Joe Lovano - I'm All For You Steve Kuhn Trio with Joe Lovano - Mostly Coltrane



Click the image below to see Joe Lovano with Dave Douglas, 2014...

Joe Lovano with Dave Douglas (click to go to this page)

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