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Joe Lovano's Universal Jazz Ensemble Preview

October 17, 2019

From JazzTimes

Joe Lovano Gets Universal: The vaunted saxophonist debuts a new, wide-ranging octet at Jazz at Lincoln Center
By: MAC RANDALL

“alot of times, I think jazz is too restricted to a style,” saxophonist and composer Joe Lovano says. “When you’re a younger player, you study styles, and you have to play in styles because you don’t know anything else. As you develop as an improviser, those things are inside your playing, and you relate to the moment. It’s a freer-flowing expression.”

This weekend (Oct. 18 and 19) in Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Appel Room in New York, Lovano will undoubtedly be relating to many moments—and roaming both within and beyond styles—as he unveils his latest group, the Joe Lovano Universal Jazz Ensemble. Its lineup may induce double-takes in some observers: vocalist Judi Silvano (also Lovano’s wife), trumpeter Graham Haynes, guitarist Liberty Ellman, pianist and longtime Lovano colleague Kenny Werner, bassist John Patitucci, and a drumming duo of some note, Andrew Cyrille and Tyshawn Sorey.

“It’s a diverse ensemble that’s multigenerational,” Lovano says. “Throughout my whole lifetime I’ve been involved in that kind of exploration. I think it comes from when I was a teenager trying to play with my dad and the musicians in his generation, and that gave me a confidence that led me to be in the Woody Herman band in my early twenties. Of course, Kenny and Judi and I have created such a close relationship over the years; that turns it into a family band, and everybody else is drawn into that. I’ve known Graham for a number of years but I haven’t played with him much, and nobody in the group has because he’s mostly been in Paris, so that seemed a good reason to do this. Tyshawn and Andrew both take a compositional approach to the drums, which is great, and they know how to share space. Andrew may still be best known for playing with Cecil Taylor and other avant-garde people, but he can do anything—he’s one of the swingingest cats ever.”

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