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Joe Lovano & Dave Douglas Sound Prints: Scandal Reviews

On Joe Lovano & Dave Douglas Sound Prints: Scandal : For decades, narrow-minded observers have tried to keep jazz fragmented into discrete, even opposing strains: “straight-ahead,” “avant-garde” and so on. Fortunately, elite musicians such as trumpeter Dave Douglas and saxophonist Joe Lovano continue to ignore this line of thinking. The second release from Sound Prints — their collaboratively led band inspired by Wayne Shorter’s ever-unclassifiable aesthetic, and featuring the superb rhythm section of pianist Lawrence Fields, bassist Linda May Han Oh and drummer Joey Baron — finds the quintet settling into a wonderfully loose group M.O. Rubato themes, most by the leaders with a pair of pieces from Shorter’s legendary Sixties run for Blue Note, flow into searching, deep-listening improvisations where any group member can take the music anywhere they please. Scandal shows how, when great players dispense with categories, jazz can be everything at once.

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Rolling Stone

Hank Shteamer

On Joe Lovano & Dave Douglas Sound Prints: Scandal : Ostensibly, the scandal behind the title of the second album from saxophonist Joe Lovano and trumpeter Dave Douglas relates to the quintet’s challenging of the traditional rules of jazz and improvisation. That idea might not entirely hold; these pieces are, after, pretty accessible in structure and harmonics. It’s the skill within those strictures, though, that makes the album so engaging. Neither Lovano nor Douglas sound beholden to their predecessors (explicitly Wayne Shorter, though hints of some of jazz’s marquee names appear), and their interwoven parts give the album its specific tenor. Linda May Han Oh adds sprightly bass playing that keeps nearly all the tracks bouncing. The highly skilled group, despite sounding straightforward at times, does pull off enough surprises – solo lines, time changes, odd meters – that the album never loses intrigue. It might not be a scandal, but it does deserve some headlines.

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PopMatters

Justin Cober-Lake and Will Layman

On Joe Lovano & Dave Douglas Sound Prints: Scandal : What happens when two of the most inventive improvisers in jazz join forces? A series of brilliant dialogues between Lovano’s saxophone and Douglas’ trumpet ensues, the two finding remarkably unanimity of spirit and tone in original compositions by each (as well as each musician’s arrangement of a Wayne Shorter classic). Their Sound Prints band features pianist Lawrence Fields, bassist Linda May Han Oh and drummer Joey Baron in a warm, bracing, intimately recorded session.

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The Chicago Tribune

Howard Reich

On Joe Lovano & Dave Douglas Sound Prints: Scandal : […] Lovano and Douglas dramatically commenced their set on the tight stage in the wedge shaped corner of this tiny, hallowed venue, with contrapuntal, antiphonal, unaccompanied horns. The two leaders alternated original compositions with settings of Wayne Shorter classics (a Douglas arrangement of ‘Fe-Fi-Fo-Fum’ and Lovano’s recasting of ‘Juju’) starting with the trumpeter’s ‘Dream State’ – the lead-off track from their recommended recent release Scandal. Counterweighting the lines of trumpet and straight tenor were a consistent feature of the intensely interwoven music which was stoked with relevance and energy by the redoubtable Joey Baron, one of the most valuable jazz drummers since Billy Higgins. Also superb was the insistent timing, rich tone and concentrated ideas of bassist Linda May Han Oh, who had picked up the gong for bassist of the year at the Jazz Journalists’ Awards a couple of hours earlier.

St Louis-born pianist and former Berklee student of Lovano, not to mention a tall drink of water, was Lawrence Fields, whose rangy fingers maintained a dancing pulse and chordal architecture reminiscent, at intervals, of Herbie Hancock. Despite impassioned solos from all, it was the tunes that held the night, more so the originals than the Wayne arrangements, notably Douglas’ memorable ‘Ups and Downs’. The latter, a lilting ballad, began with an impressionistic descending/ascending line from the tenor with contrary motion harmonization from trumpet, beautifully buoyed by the rhythm section. Other Douglas odes that stood out were the eponymous CD title track, more mournful than scandalous per se, a sad paean to these politically messed up times, which featured bulbous muted trumpet and sighing, controlled cynicism from Lovano. At a similar dirge-like tempo was ‘Libra’, an arresting theme with episodic changes reminiscent of Shorter’s adventurousness, succinctly rendered with a pellucid piano intro. Saliently, and I’ve noticed this before with the capacious book of John Zorn’s Masada, Douglas has all the music memorised before he hits the bandstand.

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Jazzwise Magazine

Michael Jackson

On Joe Lovano & Dave Douglas Sound Prints: Scandal : […] This may be a studio album, but has the feel of a live performance. Douglas’ trumpet and Lovano’s saxophone chase each other, weaving in and out across every track. Their debut had two Shorter originals penned especially for them. This set has two classics, “Fee Fi Fo Fum” arranged by Douglas, and “JuJu” arranged by Lovano. The first starts with a nod at the classic riff, dissolves into a trumpet and sax joust, bursts into a fleeting piano solo over driving swing, switches to the theme, pauses for riotous, collective reflection before they’re off again. Joey Baron starts off a tumbling reflective take on “JuJu,” out of time for much of the piece, fragments of the tune declaimed before hectic joint exploration, then a little motific hook sparks a groove and Fields bursts out on piano. It’s exhilarating, high-wire playing.

The remainder of the 11 pieces are penned by the two leaders. Dream State is a striking opener, a stabbing melodic fragment which gradually accumulates weight and a steadily rocking groove. “Full Sun” swings breezily and Linda Oh stretches out with a propulsive solo. “Ups and Downs” conjures a wistful mood and taut exquisite solos from Douglas and then Fields.

This band set out to play their music with the same attitude as Shorter and in that they surely succeed. The co-leaders may be the marquee names, but the sound is that of collective exhalation. It’s small band acoustic jazz at its best.

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On Joe Lovano & Dave Douglas Sound Prints: Scandal :A beacon of group unity and flexibility with a smouldering title track.

The Sound Prints quintet, co-led by saxophonist Joe Lovano and trumpeter Dave Douglas, can surely book its place on the 2018 albums of the year lists thanks to the smouldering, Miles-muted trumpet sound and hip yet stately horn counterpoint of its title track alone. For some, a downside of Scandal might be that it’s unapologetically a jazz album – entirely instrumental, jazz-referential in the accuracy of its fascination with the music of Wayne Shorter; particularly Shorter’s 1960s work and involvement in Miles Davis’ second quintet.

But the five year-old group – Lovano and Douglas, plus pianist Lawrence Fields, double bassist Linda May Han Oh, and drummer Joey Baron – tell better jazz stories from this kind of perspective than most, and this session catches them at their most collectively fluent.

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The Guardian

John Fordham

There is an imposing bridge that takes you over the river from the bustling capital to the flatlands that lie beyond and reach as far as the Hungarian border to the north. Civic pride is hugely important here and the town punches well above its weight when it comes to providing culture and entertainment to its citizens and visitors alike. This year was the 20th Pančevo Jazz Festival and, as in previous years, the festival director kept an open ear to bring a diverse selection of artists to the festival. Its location is the town’s Cultural Centre, a 600-seat theatre with a foyer free-stage and bar. Every evening there were two main concerts plus additional talks by one or more of the main artists, plus a jam session. The first of these featured Joe Lovano, his talk primarily attended by local music students who performed later that night at the jam session.

The renowned saxophonist talked at length about his formative years before inviting the students to watch his sound check. One of the more interesting questions asked was by Tim Berne (who played the first show of the evening) who really wanted to know how Lovano practiced and how the process had changed for him over the years. Lovano duly demonstrated to the delight of the students. His parting shot to the students? ‘The more you play, the more you’ll say!”

Lovano’s show was one of the best from him that I have seen in recent years. He was positively on fire, with his former Berklee student Lawrence Fields also a revelation on piano. Fields’ fingers gliding over the keys with seemingly no effort, he’s a brilliant improviser and can swing too. This was not just about Lovano either with rhythm section of Peter Slavov on bass and Otis Brown on drums rock-solid all night. The quartet were such a tight unit that when Joe stood back he appeared engrossed in their playing.

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Jazzwise Magazine

Tim Dickeson

The American saxophonist was on imperious form for this gutsy two-set gig.

American saxophonist Joe Lovano closed this gutsy two-set gig with an up-tempo swinger and a reminder that he first played at Ronnie Scott’s in 1977 with the Woody Herman Orchestra. He returned a decade later with the Elvin Jones Jazz Machine, but since then Lovano has been a regular headline draw.

Tonight’s sax-and-rhythm gig, the classic quartet of the title, referenced repertoire from recent projects. The first set, announced as a suite of compositions, opened with the feisty bop of “Bird’s Eye View” from Lovano’s 2005 Newport Jazz Festival collaboration with pianist Hank Jones (a recording of the performance was released last year, titled Classic! Live at Newport). The relaxed and tender “Our Daily Bread” came next, from a big-band recording with the Brussels Jazz Orchestra. Then “Mystic”, a mood-piece from his Wayne Shorter tribute project Sound Prints, segued into John Coltrane’s “Lonnie’s Lament”.

Although clearly marked themes, soloists to the fore and pre-set structures signalled a traditional path, long improvisations and strong musical personalities pushed the form to its limits. Lovano articulates his breathy tenor sax with a light touch and alternates fast-fingered slurs with puffed-cheek low-note honks, delicate high-note phonics and passages of lyrical invention. His phrases come at a slant, smoothing out angles before darting into trenchant riffs or spraying out lines that border on abstraction without losing the underlying structure. Pianist Lawrence Fields balances tradition and invention with an equally strong voice. While right-hand lines sparkled with modernist intent, left-hand counterpoint strode purposefully to the bass, creating tension, climax and intrigue. In support, bassist Peter Slavov was a pitch-perfect foundation for Otis Brown III’s cymbal-driven swing and snare-drum chatter.

Midway through the first set, Lovano switched to the tárogató — it looks like a bulbous clarinet and sounds like a snake charmer’s pipe. The sour quarter-toned fragments firmed into a dance and launched a dazzling interlude of two-handed piano accompanied by a thunder of mallets. Lovano returned to hint at the theme of “Lonnie’s Lament”, switched to tenor and finished the set with a rampage of swing.

He repeated the exercise halfway through the intense second set with a spellbinding reshaping of Ornette Coleman’s “Lonely Woman”. “It’s Easy to Remember” followed, a heartfelt ballad with Lovano and Fields on such imperious form that the zippy swinger of a finale they segued into seemed almost an afterthought. But as Lovano’s phrases tumbled over a surge of rhythm, it brought the evening to a high.

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Financial Times

Mike Hobart

2017 marks a half-century since we lost the brilliant musician John Coltrane. And while the notion of another Coltrane tribute recording strikes me as excess, the truth is that there will—and should—be Coltrane tributes forever. His legacy was a big (and can withstand as many reinterpretations) as any in American music. But more importantly, Compassion: The Music of John Coltrane features two of brilliant—and different—saxophonists whose knowledge of Trane is superb: Dave Liebman and Joe Lovano. Supported by a sharp rhythm section.

And finally, this is one of the most thoughtful and interesting Trane look-backs in a long time because it covers seven less-heard tunes that span Coltrane’s whole career. No “Giant Steps” or “Impressions” or “A Love Supreme”. This one opens your ears. This one is as new as a retrospective session gets.

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PopMatters

Will Layman

Whether it’s his repertoire from the mid-1950s or the “sheets of sound” music of the late 1950s onwards or the “spiritual explorations” of 1962 until his passing, with John Coltrane it’s always prudent to expect the unexpected. Compassion-The Music of John Coltrane doesn’t disappoint, as Dave Liebman and Joe Lovano with Phil Markowitz, Ron McClure and Billy Hart bring theatrical flair to this Coltrane music. Here, in all its radiant apparel, is the splendour of Jazz’s golden age. Whether it is in the balletic grace of “Central Park West/Dear Lord” or “Equinox”, or in the elaborate marvels of “Reverend King” and “Compassion” or the bluesy “Locomotion” and the fascinating journey of “Ole”, the tenor saxophone duo of Liebman and Lovano offer fascinating insights into the music of John Coltrane.

Indeed all of the musicians, especially Dave Liebman and Joe Lovano are on top form. The saxophonists make light of the technical challenges of Coltrane’s early, middle and late period work; Dave Liebman in the stirring fervour of his playing on tenor, his soaring flights on recorder and flute and by the sheer humanness of his presence and Joe Lovano with characteristically quiet and guarded warmth, and without over-blown out-breaths, particularly in “Compassion”. With sterling contributions by drummer Billy Hart, especially in the opening moments of “Compassion,” as well as from bassist Ron McClure and pianist Phil Markowitz, all of whom keep that piece from “A Love Supreme” together while the saxophonists handle its breaking flow with appropriate freedom.

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Jazz da Gama

Raul da Gama