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Joe Lovano: The Beauty of Expression

By Published: June 29, 2004
"At this point, I'm really just into the moment and I really want to play this summer and to explore this music that we've just documented and have it be fresh each night," he says. "As far as projects, I have a few ideas, but I really don't want to get too far ahead of myself. It's about the people I'm playing with. And I'm always put into different situations with personalities together. Some stuff's coming together, but right now I really want to concentrate on the stuff I'm doing with Hank." Lovano is inspired by the people he plays with, like Hank Jones. It's a vital reason why he selects the people and the settings that he chooses. He takes that inspiration from the greats who came before him, many of whom he's had the privilege of playing with at one time or another. He doesn't want music that's stale, because when he looks at the pantheon of great musicians, "stale" is a term that's invisible. It's not allowed.

"Just recently we lost some of the masters that never lost that inspiration," he says with a sense of respect and admiration. "It's inspiring, man. Steve Lacy. Elvin Jones. John LaPorta, who hadn't been that active in a while, but in his early days he played with Charlie Parker. He was one of the pioneers in modern clarinet playing and exploring different ways of improvising on tonalities, open modes and things. He was a pioneer in a lot of free playing and things. Ray Charles. It's about the passion of the player that keeps the music alive.

"You can get caught up in a lot of marketing and caught up in a lot of commerciality and lose a lot of stuff, but just talking about Steve Lacy and Elvin Jones alone, they're going to inspire players for the next 10 generations to try and live up to that high standard. So there's new music all the time, if you keep yourself together. Or, you can rehash and just keep playing the same old repeated easy stuff that anybody could do.

"It's never been about that. Throughout every period of jazz, though, there has probably been a majority of musicians who are playing it that don't care about it. Then there's been a handful of cats that look forward and those are the cats that you listen to every day. Thelonious Monk. Miles Davis. Coltrane. Sonny (Rollins). Wayne (Shorter). Keith Jarrett. Don Cherry. I had a chance to play with a lot of people that have lived that truth. My last record, On This Day... at the Vanguard ' with my nonet. That tune, 'On This Day,' just like any other. It's a special dedication to all those cats, man. Billy Higgins. Don Cherry. People who, every time they sat behind their instrument, that was it: A day, just like any other, baby. Boom! And they played from the deepest part of their soul and wisdom. Those are the cats that inspired me about everything I'm doing at the moment, where I've been and where I want to go. I don't even know where I want to go, but where it will take me."

The consistent high quality of Lovano's recordings, as well as the high quality of his artistic vision, will make Lovano himself one of those musicians that others look to for inspiration. It has already.

Visit Joe Lovano on the web at .

Photo Credit
Dirk Stockmans

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