Early jazz is often music of joy and playfulnessit's no wonder the great cartoons of the 1930s and 1940s are often backed by a classic jazz soundtrack. Now that jazz has become "art and "music of significance, joy and playfulness are too often missing from performances. It is a pleasure, then, that Kids: Duets Live at Dizzy's, a collaboration between Joe Lovano on tenor and soprano sax and Hank Jones on piano, revives the waning art of joyful jazz.
Kids may lack some of the emotional power of Art Pepper's final recordings with George Cables, Goin' Home and Téte-à'Téte, (both Original Jazz Classics, 1982) or Stan Getz' last recording with Kenny Barron, People Time (Verve, 1992). These were each colored by the sax players' awareness of their own impending mortality. But Kids has plenty of the brilliant play and artistic partnership of these predecessor piano/sax duos, and the audience at Dizzy's responds enthusiastically.
The cross-fertilization between generations works well here. Jones will be ninety in July 2008, while Lovano is still in his mid-fifties; but both share a love of traditional jazz, demonstrated on their previous quartet albums for Blue Note, I'm All for You (2004) and Joyous Encounter (2005). Jones seems to be channeling the ghosts of Fats Waller or Art Tatum with his glittering runs on the album's opener, "Lady Luck, or his stride play on the solo, "Oh! Look at Me Now! Still, Jones follows Lovano's lead gleefully on the saxophonist's more bop-ish original, "Charlie Chan and the classic "Budo.
There are other pleasures on the album: Lovano's lyrical work on "Soultrane is one, the prickly Monk tune "Four in One another. Jones transforms "Oh What a Beautiful Mornin' from hoary standard into meditative tone poem. Thad Jones' "Kids Are Pretty People is an engaging vehicle for the pair to amble through some bluesy solo and duo work. The album ends with a lovely cover of "Lazy Afternoon. The slightly melancholy take by clarinetist Ken Peplowski and Jones (on celeste and piano) from Jones' Lazy Afternoon, (Concord, 1989.) contrasts with Lovano and Jones' version, which offers a leisurely conversation between old friends; a perfect conclusion to an enjoyable live set.
Track Listing: Lady Luck; Charlie Chan; Lullaby; Little Rascal on a Rock; Budo; Soultrane; Kids Are Pretty People; Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'; Oh! Look at Me Now!; Four in One; Lazy Afternoon.
Personnel: Joe Lovano: tenor and soprano sax; Hank Jones, piano.