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A Fireside Chat With Joe Lovano

By Published: January 31, 2003

JL: Well, we have all played together in a lot of different bands like Al and John played with Miles together years ago. There is a lot of different combinations of things that have happened between us through the years and when we first toured as this group was back in '99, I think. We put a summer tour together and we're all on different record labels too, so we put the group together because it was a combination of people that we wanted to play with. They kind of bill it like this all-star kind of billing, but that kind of happens more in the marketing, but we are playing together because we want to and because of the music. There is a quartet sound that is all its own within this band.

FJ: Most memorable moment of the recording session?

JL: We had just finished a twenty concert tour in July. We were all over Europe and then went to Hong Kong and finished in Hong Kong, flew home, had a day in between, and went right in the studio. So the studio session was really just like another performance, so it was a real concert performance. There is no editing or overdubbing. We set up and played it as a band. After exploring all these tunes, Fred, there's eleven tunes on there, after exploring them throughout the tour and of course, on concerts, we didn't play all eleven tunes in one set. We would stretch out and maybe play seven or something. But to tighten them all up and to really put it together as a performance set was really fun to do and I think the orchestration throughout the recording really shows that we've been playing together and we really thought about how to orchestrate the solo orders and the whole thing. It just kind of flowed really smoothly. That is just how we all play. We all play with that certain attitude of exploring the music that we're dealing with. Our first rehearsal, running through those tunes, we could have went into the studio that day.

FJ: Favorite track?

JL: I think each tune creates a certain mood. It's hard to say, Fred. My tune "New Amsterdam" is a very free flowing piece that every time we played it, it had a different kind of shape. It was really fun to play and then when you listen back to it later, you're just like, "Oh, wow, listen to where that went." I wouldn't be able to pick a favorite track.

FJ: Any tour plans to promote OH! ?

JL: There is some things in the wind. We're going to do six nights at the Iridium in February here in New York. We're planning on doing a few other things. With all our schedules, it is really hard to organize, but I think we will plan something in the future. The first tour we did was in '99 and we did this tour in 2002. That is how long it took to kind of settle into another tour. Those things are always in the wind and we will definitely look forward to regrouping.

FJ: Is that the most challenging aspect, getting everyone's calendar on the same page?

JL: Well, I mean, you have to plan ahead. But that definitely is a consideration. We're all doing a lot of stuff. Dave has a few different groups, as well as I do and so does John. Al is busy doing stuff as a leader as well as playing with McCoy Tyner and other folks. Right now, when you live in the world of music the way we are, there is a lot of things happening. To juggle things and to really do stuff you want to do, you have to plan ahead.

FJ: What irons do you have in the fire?

JL: I have a couple different projects that I have been doing. Most recently, I put out a recording called Viva Caruso on Blue Note and I have a street band that I like to call it that has clarinet and soprano and percussion, Billy Drewes, Judi Silvano, flute and voice and some percussion, Gil Goldstein on accordion and piano, Ed Schuller on bass, and we just did a European tour and went to Havana and just got back the other day from playing the festival down there in Cuba. That is one group that I am playing with and exploring some different kind of folk music, improvisations in a free flowing way. My nonet, we just recorded live at the Vanguard for a recording that is going to come out in September, which is from the 52nd Street Themes, which is one of my recordings. That group is an ongoing thing that I am doing, writing new music and we are playing with that band as well as my trio with Cameron Brown and Idris Muhammad. We've been doing stuff with that group and so I have a few different projects that I have been focusing on. It has been fun to explore different repertoire with different people. I have been just trying to pace it, so none of them bunch up on each other and so there is some space in between. This week, I am playing at Birdland in New York. I am playing at Birdland with a week of Lee Morgan's music. I will be out with Chucho Valdes in April to where you are. I am playing as a guest with his group. We're going to be in Santa Barbara at the college there, in San Francisco, and USC, what is that?

FJ: My alma mater, there is a jazz festival there.

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