Joe Lovano: Joyous Encounter

Eric J. Iannelli By

Sign in to view read count
An exceptional album in its own right, Joyous Encounter is perhaps best appreciated when heard in light of I'm All for You, the collection of ballads that earned saxophonist Joe Lovano and his all-star quartet—pianist Hank Jones, drummer Paul Motian, and bassist George Mraz—such widespread, enthusiastic praise when it appeared last year. The four musicians have reconvened under Lovano's leadership with the deliberate aim of working the magic that served them so well last time on more up-tempo numbers and fewer standards.

Linked by a holdover from the last go, the capricious and poetic rendition of "Autumn in New York," it would be slightly mistaken to think of this disc as a simple follow-on, a Hollywood sequel engendered solely to capitalize on the success of the original. While commercial ambitions no doubt played a part—personally, I have trouble imagining that parent label EMI's promptings for a repeat session stemmed purely from noble artistic motives—there is among the group a maturation, or even a melding, that is manifest from a year of touring together and developing musical ideas on and off-stage. Joyous Encounter is therefore not an opportunistic Part Two; it's the technical and intellectual refinement of an acclaimed blueprint.

The opener is a good indication of what has changed and what has remained the same. Motian is sparing as usual, beginning with brushwork like ruffling bedsheets, but he gradually urges the group toward a more optimistic trot. His role here contrasts his subdued presence on I'm All for You, on which he was often minimalist to the point of self-effacement. Jones' solo demonstrates not only how expert this octogenarian pianist can be—listen to the way he throws phrases in the air, scooping them up on their descent—but also how the group has honed its timing to something like a sixth sense.

"Bird's Eye View" is a jittery bop chart modeled on Charlie Parker's "Confirmation," and the mix of individual and collective is especially strong here, with each musician turning in a highly personal performance that simultaneously complements the others'. The title track, another Lovano chart, might be seen as rather less joyous an encounter given Jones' absence. The featured trio version apparently worked better than the full quartet recording. Lovano sketches the melody with thick, jagged strokes and then proceeds to fill in the outline with scribbles, dots, and swipes. Without the piano's chords, it leaves ample room for Motian and Mraz to come forward and fill in the interstices, which they do well.

The disc finishes with Coltrane's "Crescent," a eulogy of sorts for the pianist's brother, the late Elvin Jones. It has an odd feel to it at the outset: Lovano wailing and plaintive, Jones anguished, Mraz slightly bewildered, Motian ricocheting among all three. They settle into a bittersweet groove, only to close out by recalling the ominous head. Like the musicians themselves, the approach spans generations, and it makes the familiar new.

Visit Joe Lovano on the web.

Track Listing: 1. Autumn in New York 2. Bird's Eye View 3. Don't Ever Leave Me 4. Alone Together 5. Six and Four 6. Pannonica 7. Consummation 8. Quiet Lady 9. Joyous Encounter 10. A Child is Born 11. Crescent

Personnel: Loe Lovano: tenor and curved soprano saxophone; Hank Jones: piano; Geroge Mraz: bass; Paul Motian: drums and cymbals

Title: Joyous Encounter | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Blue Note Records


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Whispers on the Wind CD/LP/Track Review Whispers on the Wind
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 23, 2017
Read Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman CD/LP/Track Review Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 23, 2017
Read Heptagon CD/LP/Track Review Heptagon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 23, 2017
Read ON Tour CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read On a Distant Shore CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read "Seasons 1-4 Live" CD/LP/Track Review Seasons 1-4 Live
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: January 6, 2017
Read "Get Up And Go" CD/LP/Track Review Get Up And Go
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 2, 2017
Read "Resonance" CD/LP/Track Review Resonance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 23, 2017
Read "Enter the PlusTet" CD/LP/Track Review Enter the PlusTet
by Troy Collins
Published: October 23, 2016
Read "Das Wohltemperierte Akkordeon" CD/LP/Track Review Das Wohltemperierte Akkordeon
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 12, 2017
Read "Collection Three: Spells (2014-2015)" CD/LP/Track Review Collection Three: Spells (2014-2015)
by Jim Olin
Published: October 11, 2017

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY IT!  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.