Release date May 8th 2007
As jazz has faced a crisis in popularity in recent years and many of its top performers had to re-centre their careers, the first response was to aim at dramatically new approaches that could win back a wider audience. Now, a new realization seems to be dawning. Jazz in its most straightforward, most elemental form is popular provided it is sincerely offered and based in tradition. The success of this approach (the Metheney-Mehldau duets, the pianoless saxophone trio rediscovered by Joshua Redman with "Back East") is added to by "Kids", which comprises eleven saxophone/ piano duets that display an openness and space that is at the same time musically thrilling and an honest expression of so much of what remains that is inspirational in jazz.
Joe Lovano and Hank Jones have been working together for over five years in a quartet that also features George Maraz (bass) and Paul Motian (drums), releasing the albums "I’m All For You" in 2004 and "Joyous Encounter" in 2005 and touring. Remarkably, Hank Jones is now 89 years old, making Joe Lovano at 55 seem in comparison something like one of the "kids" in the title of this fine album. Hank Jones is the last surviving of three famous brothers who have all left their mark on jazz – Thad Jones as composer and big band player and arranger; Elvin Jones the drummer powerhouse behind John Coltrane and Hank himself as a pianist whose playing has seemed only to improve with time. As Joe Lovano says: “Playing with Hank over the last five years has been an amazing period for me. It’s been inspiring to explore and develop music together. Working with someone like Hank, who is so enthusiastic and on such a high level of creating in the moment, has given me the true sense of what jazz is all about".
The material includes three Thad Jones compositions ("Lady Luck", "Little Rascal On A Rock" and "Kids Are Pretty People") and this represents a continuation of Hank Jones' quest to gain recognition for his brother as a composer (all three compositions feature on the excellent album "Upon Reflection: The Music Of Thad Jones" that Hank Jones (with Elvin Jones and George Maraz) released in piano trio treatment in 1994).
There are knowledgeable treatments of three post bop standards ("Budo" (Miles Davis); "Soultrane" (Tadd Dameron) and "Four in One" (Thelonious Monk)), two Amercian songbook standards ("Oh, What A Beautiful Morning (Hammerstein/Rodgers) and "Lazy Afternoon (Godard)) and two originals. Joe Lovano's "Charlie Chan" is an affectionate tribute to Charlie Parker and Hank Jones' "Lullaby" is a beautiful ballad.
This is a rich, inventive programme, recorded live at the unusually named "Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola" which is in the newly (2004) refurbished "Jazz At Lincoln Center" in Manhattan. It is the understanding between the two performers and the depth of knowledge of the jazz tradition that makes this music more than an exercise in nostalgia or an opportunity to showboat. Openness, freshness, inventiveness, and, yes, joyousness are just some of the attributes that come to mind as you listen to this music.
Another great album that is making 2007 look like a very good year for jazz.
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Joe Lovano looks back on 2007: