Online since August 2002

A classic on tenor

From the Spring 2004 issue.

I'm All For You
I'm All For You
By Joe Lovano

Blue Note Records: 2004

To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.

The great tenor players all love to wrap their sound around a ballad. Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young back in the pre-bop beginning; then, starting in the fifties, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane and Dexter Gordon. Of those giants, only Sonny Rollins is still with us, still going strong.

I bring up "ballads" because saxophonist Joe Lovano's new disc, "I'm All For You" is subtitled "Ballad Songbook," and I mention the historically great tenor players because Lovano has proven over the years – with sets Like "Rush Hour" and "Celebrating Sinatra" – that he belongs in that category.

With the exception of Sonny Rollins, and perhaps the underappreciated Bennie Wallace, Joe Lovano is probably the only tenor player out there today who can pull off a successful ballad collection. His horn sound is one that is often described as "warm and round," but to these ears the tone is more metallic, biting, like a drink of bracingly cold water from a tin cup on this disc. It's a sound that counterpoints beautifully the supple and subtle accompaniment of pianist Hank Jones, bassist George Mraz and drummer Paul Motian. There is, in that backing trio, about a hundred and twenty years of professional jazz experience, and the music they've made here (the set was recorded live in the studio) has that vibrant, seamless, alive feel to it. Motian's contribution is especially engaging, a gentle propulsion filled with splashes of cymbal color.

There are some of the American Songbook Classics on the set – "Stella By Starlight," "Like Someone In Love" – and also Thelonious Monk's "Monk's Mood" that is facinating for Jones' delicate, un-Monk-like piano approach; and Coltrane's "Countdown," with Lovano sounding especially tangy on his tenor.

This one's a classic you can put on the CD shelf next to Coltrane's "Ballads" set.

Review by Dan McClenaghan. Dan is a writer living in Oceanside, Calif. Read his biography on his AllAboutJazz.com page.

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