Joe Lovano's New Septet Echoes the Past, Looks to the Future

October 24, 2019

From DownBeat

Joe Lovano’s New Septet Echoes the Past, Looks to the Future

“On hearing about Joe Lovano’s new septet, Universal Jazz Ensemble, his legion of longtime fans were struck by a sense of déjà vu. Beyond invoking universality in its name, the new group recalls the multireedist’s mid-1990s Universal Language septet, employing vocals, brass, woodwinds, strings and percussion.

The feeling was stoked when the new band hit the stage for its Oct. 18 debut at Jazz at Lincoln Center. First, two key members of the old ensemble’“vocalist Judi Silvano and pianist Kenny Werner’“took their places to Lovano’s right. Then, Lovano announced that the group would be playing a staple of the Universal Language repertoire, ‘The Dawn Of Time.’

But the feeling of familiarity faded quickly. ‘Dawn’ was no longer a stand-alone piece. Rather, it was incorporated into a suite with three other movements, its signature descending scale transformed from the melodic core of a lush ballad, with Lovano’s tenor saxophone in the lead, to the central pattern around which he and the other members of the front line’“Silvano and cornetist Graham Haynes’“weaved overlapping melodies that served the suite’s aesthetic.”

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