How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Friendly Fire is aptly named, for in the grand tradition of two-horn jam sessions dating back to Sonny Rollins' legendary matchup with John Coltrane, "Tenor Madness," Joe Lovano and Greg Osby here meet not to compete, but to collaborate, share, prod, intertwine, and perhaps only occasionally - and gently - squabble. There is fire, and it is friendly. And along the way, courtesy an extraordinary rhythm section powered by the great drummer Idris Muhammad, there is a great deal of great music.
Like the grand old jam sessions of the Fifties and Sixties, Lovano and Osby here seem to have reached back for some of their old favorites. But that doesn't mean "Stella By Starlight" - instead, we get Ornette Coleman's "Broad Way Blues," Eric Dolphy's "Serene," and Thelonious Monk's "Monk's Mood." Plus a few swinging and attractive originals from Lovano and Osby: Lovano's "The Wild East" is particularly sunny and full of surprises.
Even on the Coleman and Dolphy tracks these two are less interested in thundering or lightning-fast pyrotechnics than on solid and attractive bop. Still, Lovano in particular shows his pedigree in "freer" ensembles and plays with astounding depth and imagination. So while this disc may not set any worlds on fire, it does burn with its own comfortable flame.
Joe Lovano, ts, ss, flt; Greg Osby, as, ss; Jason Moran, p; Cameron Brown, b; Idris Muhammad, d.
Track listing: Geo J Lo / The Wild East / Serene / Broad Way Blues / Monk's Mood / Idris / Truth Be Told / Silenos / Alexander the Great.