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Were he still with us, Miles Davis would have turned eighty this year. But he is still with us through his music and the influence that he had on jazz all over the world, for all those who have been influenced by his poise and flair.
With an interpretation of the Birth of the Cool suite and Joe Lovano's Streams of Expression suite, the leading veteran tenor saxophonist dabbles with sentimental reflection. The program sounds oh so familiar because it is. Commissioned for the 2001 Monterey Jazz Festival and recorded last December, Gunther Schuller's Birth of the Cool suite employs "Moon Dreams, "Move and "Boplicity as its core material. The musicians do their best to retrieve the sound of the original recording.
The instrumentation for Lovano's suite is similar. An array of woodwinds merges with select brass and rhythm instruments to recreate the sound of Miles Davis' Birth of the Cool nonet. This year marks the 57th anniversary of that landmark organization and album.
Lovano interprets his "Blue Sketches in a trio with bassist Dennis Irwin and drummer Lewis Nash. The fresh and lively piece allows Lovano to take his tenor for a lyrical joy ride, while the bass walks the rails and the drums scramble over the cobblestones. This trio is quite creative in its portrayal of straight-ahead jazz with a free, contemporary flavor.
Big Ben returns the trio to the spotlight, but with Lovano exercising a new instrument. In his hands, the Aulochrome sounds like two soprano saxophones working in harmony, similar to the way Rahsaan Roland Kirk operated. It's all quite natural. And Lovano makes it work well on this interesting and original Monk-like composition. Like the other trio piece on the album, it thrills with fresh delight.
Track Listing: 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
Personnel: 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).
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.