Joe Lovano Us Five: Bird Songs

Album review
Joe Lovano Us Five: Bird Songs

Joe Lovano Us Five

Bird Songs

Label: Blue Note
Media: CD
Genre: Jazz

Bird Songs, Lovano’s 22nd recording for Blue Note, is his paean to bebop icon Charlie Parker. But it’s also a tribute to the sax greats who influenced Bird, like Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young, as well as those who followed him, from Jimmy Heath and John Coltrane to Ornette Coleman and Eric Dolphy. It’s also an homage to Lovano’s sax-playing father, Tony “Big T” Lovano, who passed on his love of Bird to his son. There are plenty of surprises here. The chops- busting burner “Donna Lee” is handled as a luxurious ballad, while the normally frenetic “Moose the Mooche” is done as a funky slow blues. Lovano and crew put a Caribbean lilt beneath “Barbados” and turn in radical reinventions of “Dexterity,” “Dewey Square,” and “Yardbird Suite,” the latter opening as a moving hymn. Us Five is ably anchored by bassist Esperanza Spalding and pianist James Weidman and fueled by the dual drumming of Otis Brown III and Francisco Mela, whose divergent styles create a loose, polyrhythmic mesh behind the leader. Lovano blows typically robust tenor lines throughout and is also featured on G mezzo soprano on a soulful reading of “Lover Man.” 

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  • primary artist, Joe Lovano Us Five
  • CD

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