Joe Lovano never fails to create an impression. Streams of Expression, his eighteenth release for Blue Note, is a suite-within-a-suite that honors and signifies upon a considerable amount of jazz historycool, modal, avant, bopwith authority and individuality.
The centerpiece of the album is the "Birth of the Cool Suite," a tribute to the chamber jazz outings of John Lewis, Miles Davis and Gil Evans; updated versions of "Moon Dreams, "Move and "Boplicity are mortared together with new pre-, inter- and postludes composed, arranged and conducted by Gunther Schuller for nonet-plus-three. Bookending the entire set is an original suite by Lovano entitled Streams of Expression, a set of pieces treating Third Stream ("Streams, Pt. 1 ), cool ("Cool ), Mingus/Dolphy-influenced post-bop ("Enchantment ), early free jazz ("Second Nature ) and the ecstatic sound experimentation of Albert Ayler, Archie Shepp, et al. ("The Fire Prophets ). Despite such stylistic dilettantism, Lovano's casual conviction and smoldering aplomb remain distinctly his own.
The recording also includes three additional chapters: "Blue Sketches pares down the harmony and instrumentation for a trio outing in D minor; "Big Ben (along with "Fire Prophets ) world-premieres Lovano recording on the Aulochrome (a two-tubed, one-of-a-kind soprano sax-cum-keyboard); while "Buckeyes features the unusual textures and through-composed melodic logic of Tim Haganswith sound-byte solos democratically doled out among the company, this is one of the set's strongest pieces.
In spite of its attempt at overarching compositional architecture, this album is more convincing as a testament to the cohesion of the ensemble, the skill of the contributing arrangers and, above all, Lovano's chameleonic charisma: changing colors at will, standing out even as he blends in, his off-the-cuff improvisations are effortlessly realized, caught on-the-fly.
Streams of Expression: Streams (Pt. I); Cool (Pt. II). The Birth of the Cool Suite: Prelude/Moon
Dreams; Interlude No.1/Move/Interlude No.2; Boplicity/Postlude. Blue Sketches; Buckeyes;
Streams of Expression: Enchantment (Pt. III); Second Nature (Pt. IV); Fire Prophet (Pt. V). Big
Joe Lovano: tenor saxophone, alto clarinet, Aulochrome; Tim Hagans: trumpet (1-5,7-10);
Barry Ries: trumpet (1-5,7-10); Larry Farrell: trombone (1-5,7-10); Steve Slagle: alto
saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute (1-5,7-10); George Garzone: tenor saxophone
(1,2,8-10); Ralph Lalama: tenor saxophone and clarinet (3-5); Charles Russo: clarinet,
bass clarinet (3-5); Michael Parloff: flute (3-5); James Weidman: piano (3-5,7); Gary
Smulyan: baritone saxophone (1-5,7-10); John Hicks: piano (1,2,8-10); Dennis Irwin: bass;
Lewis Nash: drums; Gunther Schuller: arranger/conductor (3-5).