Joe Lovano digs nature…even when it’s disagreeable.
“It’s all about nature, being natural,” Joe Lovano says in a phone interview in reference to both his music and the recent flooding of his garage due to Hurricane Irene. Lovano lives in the Hudson River Valley, one hour north of Manhattan. These wild forces induce awe and “fuel the inspiration”, he says.
It’s easy to understand why Joe respects both the light and dark forces in nature: he’s a Jazz musician—a saxophonist to be exact. It’s the unpredictability of our surroundings Lovano finds so intriguing. It may be just the thing he’s looking for—that kind of chaos—to channel into his music.
It’s been about thirty years since Lovano (born in Ohio) performed in Grand Rapids, but will return to play St. Cecilia’s Music Center on October 27th. In the early 1970’s he toured the area with nightly consecutive gigs. He insists, nowadays, things are a bit different for gigging outfits.
“I feel at home …but it’s not the same. There are no more corner taverns. There used to be a club in every town willing to play local or visiting groups, but Disco kind of wiped that out, I think,” Joe reflects. “Touring is harder now, less coordinated, more independent. We play a lot of universities these days.”
The repertoire for his fall tour will consist of material from his 2009 album Folk Art, new compositions he’s still fleshing out and songs from his new album of Charlie Parker covers called Bird Songs.
Grand Rapids audiences should expect to hear Lovano expanding these songs to greater heights during performance. “That’s all I do is stretch out and improvise, man.” He claims his album Bird Songs “is a statement and a document, a picture. The live performance is an extension of the recording. “
His new album and upcoming tour will feature bassist and newfound talent, Esperanza Spalding, 27. “She won a Grammy for Best New Artist of 2010, beating out Justin Bieber.” Lovano is very happy to play this tour with her and reveals Spalding to also be a very talented vocalist. “She has no limitations,” Joe says.
He realizes jazz demands the attention of the audience, and that some have a difficult time with that. “It’s a bit like caviar,” he says of jazz music. “It’s such a fast food world we live in. People just need to approach things with a different attitude.”
“What is Jazz?” Lovano asks. “It’s expressive, it’s not programmed. When music is programmed it puts a date on it. This music can be timeless. It’s from the people, to the people.”
If the audience is curious and willing to listen, Joe insists, they will experience something more thoughtful. “It’s not just notes and music chords. It’s a tapestry of personalities.”