01_lovanoBird Songs
Joe Lovano; Us Five
Blue Note 509999 058610205

Joe Lovano is a colossally creative jazz performer on a par with vintage Sonny Rollins but on his 22nd album for Blue Note he’s outdone himself – with barely an original composition to be heard. It’s a tough challenge reinventing the classic material of 20th century jazz master Charlie Parker, but Lovano with his band Us Five (voted jazz group of the year in Downbeat’s 2010 poll) has achieved in spades what hordes of jazzers have essayed with this rich repertoire - he’s made it sound new. Playing four woodwinds, mostly signature tenor sax, he exhibits his insightful knowledge, terrific technique, thorough comprehension of melodic and harmonic language and questing curiosity. He’s backed on the 11 tunes by pianist James Weidman, Grammy-winning bassist Esperanza Spalding and two lively drummers, Otis Brown 111 and Francisco Mela. Among many treasures you hear an elegant slow Donna Lee usually done at reckless speed, a funky Moose the Mooche, a Lover Man on G mezzo soprano sax, Ko Ko played in trio format with furious drum polyrhythms, a mix of three of Bird’s blues (Blues Collage) featuring alto sax, piano and bass, the extraordinary Birdyard with the leader on aulochrome, a new instrument combing two soprano saxes and a mighty closing Yardbird Suite. This disc’s a keeper.

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