A Fireside Chat With Joe Lovano

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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.
A bird told me that Joe Lovano would be touring with old friend and band mate, John Scofield, Al Foster, and Dave Holland. That was a handful of years ago. Logistics, being that it was a European tour, made it difficult for me to catch the band live. Thankfully, Blue Note recorded the band and that recording, OH!, is not a live recording, but it might as well be. It has all the verve and spontaneity of a live concert. I spoke with Joe Lovano and John Scofield (separately) about their new record, as always, unedited and in his own words.

All About Jazz: ScoLoHoFo, how serendipitous for the Blue Note marketing department.

Joe Lovano: Well, it depends whose tune we're playing. It will be HoScoLoFo or ScoLoHoFo or LoHoScoFo. We just turn it inside out. I guess everyone knows the band as ScoLoHoFo and that is how it is going to read on the recording.

FJ: Your thoughts on John Scofield.

JL: We first met in Boston in the early Seventies. We both went to Berklee College of Music at the same time and played, at that point, in some sessions and things and heard each other and became friends at that time. Through the years, we both moved to New York in the mid-Seventies and had been colleagues on the scene here all those years. In the late Eighties, I joined John's quartet. I think it was around 1989 and was a member of his quartet right at the time he was just signing with Blue Note and so was I, in that period. I played with John's group until '93, I guess, so it was about four years. We did quite a few recordings together and toured all over the place. So this whole collaboration with Dave Holland and Al and John and I really kind of, playing in John's quartet was a springboard into this project. Musically, John is one of the most swinging guitar players on the scene of musicians, as far as an accompanist and a frontline player also. We share a lot of different conceptions together throughout the music, the way we play together because John is part of the rhythm section and he is also part of the frontline with me. So there is a real ensemble concept in John's playing that is beautiful.

FJ: Dave Holland.

JL: Dave is, well, he has been, long before I ever met Dave, he was on some of my favorite recordings and playing with all the people that I was listening to coming up, Miles and Chick Corea, his trios with Chick and the group with Anthony Braxton (Circle) and Chick and then I heard him a lot with Sam Rivers and also with Braxton when I first came to New York in the mid-Seventies, they were playing a lot together. Dave was one of those cats that was an inspiration as far as an improviser and creative musician. All the music he has been involved with his whole life has been just some beautiful, creative exploration. He has been a part of a few of my sessions. One of my first records on Blue Note with Ed Blackwell on drums and Michel Petrucciani on piano called From the Soul. That was the first time, I think, we might have recorded together. And then he is also on my Trio Fascination recording with Elvin Jones, which was a beautiful experience to have him and Elvin together on a session. I heard him with Blackwell a lot also with Karl Berger and in some different situations through the years too. That was a really great collaboration, From the Soul, to play with him and Blackwell together and now with Al because Al is a direct line from Max, Philly Joe Jones, and Blackwell, and Billy Higgins.

FJ: And Al.

JL: Al and I have been playing together since maybe the early Nineties. We did a couple of gigs. He played with me at the Vanguard and a few recordings. He is on the recording I did called Celebrating Sinatra that had woodwinds and a string quartet and a trio with Al and I and George Mraz on bass. That was a really beautiful and creatively crafted session that Manny Albam did orchestrations for and I had him write very sparse parts for Al, so he could just play with his interpretations and be very free within an orchestrated date because Al is one of the most creative improvisers, Fred. He is so free and flexible on his instrument and he has got the most beautiful finesse and sound. His sound on the drums are incredible. He plays the full range of the kit like it's a piano. He is fabulous. Al is really beautiful because he has an open phrasing conception where there is a complete dialogue with him all the time and when the solo is changed and different people play, the energy changes and the moods change throughout your choruses, very dynamic and spontaneous within the form of whatever tune you're playing. There is nothing that is just routine. It is very open and free and that is how the whole group plays. That is how we play together as a band, so there is a lot of dialogue and dynamic shifting and spontaneous orchestrations.

FJ: So this is not a marketing all-star jam session.


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