While Joe Lovano's first Trio Fascination disc explored the spectrum of musical possibilities within a fixed unit, Edition Two goes exactly the opposite way. With four different trios (and playing seven different instruments), Lovano offers varietyand more to spare.
On Flights of Fancy, his second celebration of the trio, Lovano plays roles both as melodic leader and as rhythmic stylist. While it's impossible to pin him down, the real high notes of the disc are his intermittent tenor playing in the conventional lineup of sax/bass/drums. (Perhaps this reflects his familiarity with the context.) On three other tracks, Joey Baron's eccentric drumming throws Lovano many a curve ball, which he's of course eager to hit. Unfortunately, Toots Thielemans mostly poisons four tracks with his totally straightforward approach and unrelenting melodicism. (Lovano's tonal and creative range far exceeds T.T.'s, and it's painfully obvious.) When Lovano sits down at the drums on "206," as he's done on occasion in the past, he achieves an interesting pulsing color-dynamism rather than going after polyrhythm. It's a curious aside, revealing in moderation, but best contained.
The obvious comparisons for Flights of Fancy lie with Lovano's previous trio record. On Trio Fascination, the focus lay more in adapting tone and melody to different tunes. Elvin Jones presented a fresh contrast to Lovano's usual drum partners, and he almost stole the show. But Flights of Fancy doesn't allow any player (including Lovano) to dominate; the landscape and textures are so constantly in flux. This bold effort represents a welcome degree of maturity on Lovano's behalf. He doesn't crave the spotlightby recruiting such a wide range of partners (and many "stars"), he draws more attention to his surroundings than himself. But it's Lovano, of course, who's the glue that keeps Flights of Fancy together.
Track Listing: Flights of Fancy; On April (I'll Remember April); Amsterdam; Blue Must; Off and Runnin'; Infant Eyes; 206; Bougainvillea; Windom Street; Hot Shot; Aisha; Amber; On Giant Steps; Flights of Fancy.
Personnel: Joe Lovano: tenor, alto, C-melody, and soprano saxophones; alto and basss clarinet; drums, gongs. Cameron Brown: bass; Idris Muhammad: drums. Toots Thielemans: harmonica; Kenny Werner: piano. Dave Douglas: trumpet; Mark Dresser: bass. Billy Drewes: soprano saxophone, percussion; Joey Baron: drums.