The way an operatic tenor such as Enrico Caruso can change his dynamic levels from loud and fiery to kittenishly soft leaves a lasting impression. We've all experienced this because we've grown up with it. The emotion pours, as singer and orchestra collaborate on how to express one tale after another. Joe Lovano has assembled a mini-orchestra to help him pay homage to Caruso and similar tenors who've captured our hearts by expressing what we feel.
Bass, drums, and a bouncing tenor saxophone that nudges the scenery interact with a loose, swinging jazz spirit. Lovano's instrumentation eschews piano. He combines a woodwind chamber ensemble with his unique jazz voice on this album. Adding accordion in places boosts the folk sentiment. Musically, the session ranks superior to many similar projects and sits alongside Lovano's Rush Hour. Both albums possess detailed, multi-layered orchestral arrangements and feature Lovano's fluid saxophone voice.
"O Sole Mio" finds the leader with bass and drums, interpreting quietly. Like the great Caruso, Lovano winds gentle and fluid through the easy melody. Unlike most operatic singers, however, the saxophonist never forces. Slow and seamless, his interpretation remains mild and through flowing. Surprisingly, Lovano includes a stop-time at mid-song and a changeover to straight-ahead jazz, done up right. The song's familiar melody never fades, as the trio's bop-derived take swings lovingly over familiar ground.
The title track shares a knowledge of Caruso's life and times. Accordion, bass and drums accompany Lovano's tenor saxophone in a tour of the land from which Caruso and many other great tenors have evolved. Elsewhere, the leader steers ensembles of varying membership through light classical moments and syncopated dances. "Santa Lucia" carries the same personality as Sonny Rollins' "St. Thomas." "Soltano a Te" and "Tarantella Sincera" apply a powerful lyric sense to quaint melodies. Due out April 23rd, Joe Lovano's homage to Enrico Caruso contains soft edges and lovely phrases. It's a love letter from one great tenor to us all.
Track Listing: Vesto la Giubba "I Pagliacci;" Tarantella Sincera; The Streets of Naples; Cielo Turchino (Deep Blue Sky; Pecche? (Why?); O Sole Mio; Viva Caruso; Campane a Sera (Evening Bells; Santa Lucia; Soltano a Te (Only to You); Il Carnivale di Pulcinella; For You Alone.
Personnel: Joe Lovano- tenor saxophone; Judi Silvano- wordless vocals; Gil Goldstein- accordion; Michael Bocian- guitar; Helen Campo, Dick Oatts- flute; Tom Christianson- oboe, English horn; Billy Drewes- clarinet; Charlie Russo- bass clarinet; Michael Rabinowitz, Kim Lackowski- bassoon; John Clark- French horn; Herb Robertson- trumpet; Gary Valente- trombone; Ed Schuller, Scott Lee- bass; Joey Baron, Bob Meyer, Carmen Castaldi- drums; Jamey Haddad- tambourine.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.