Sound Prints – Scandal – Greenleaf Music

by | Apr 30, 2018 | Jazz CD Reviews

Joe Lovano and Dave Douglas echo Wayne Shorter’s spirit and inventiveness.

Sound Prints – Scandal [TrackList follows] – Greenleaf Music GRE-CD-1065, 66:32 [4/6/18] ****:

(Joe Lovano – tenor saxophone, G mezzo soprano saxophone (track 10), co-producer; Dave Douglas – trumpet, co-producer, executive producer; Lawrence Fields – piano; Joey Baron – drums; Linda May Han Oh – bass)

Saxophonist Joe Lovano and trumpeter Dave Douglas are both forward-thinkers. So, it should not be a surprise that as co-leaders of the quintet Sound Prints they have put together an original-leaning tribute to Wayne Shorter. The 66-minute Scandal is not a covers album. In fact, there are only two Shorter compositions among the 11 tracks. Douglas explains, “We’re not playing by the traditional, or school-taught, rules of jazz.” The CD’s title refers to “our questioning of everything about the assumptions made in improvisation.” The band’s name is inspired by Shorter’s piece, “Footprints,” and Shorter’s ongoing influence is the guidepost behind Sound Prints’ music. More than just music emanates through the material. Lovano says, “Sound Prints is a free-flowing, joyous expression of music in the social environment we live in today.” Scandal is the group’s first studio output. Their self-titled 2015 live debut was recorded at the 2013 Monterey Jazz Festival. The same fivesome are featured on Scandal. Lovano on tenor sax (he switches to G mezzo soprano sax on one cut); Douglas; pianist Lawrence Fields (who has been part of The Christian Scott Ensemble); drummer Joey Baron (he frequently backs Bill Frisell and John Zorn); and bassist Linda May Han Oh (she heads her own band and has performed with Slide Hampton, T. S. Monk, Steve Wilson and Billy Childs).

There is plenty to appreciate and investigate. Douglas contributed five pieces. Lovano composed four tunes. And then there are the two Shorter numbers. Douglas arranged Shorter’s “Fee Fi Fo Fum” and Lovano arranged Shorter’s “Juju.” The opener is Douglas’ flexible group-thinking “Dream State,” which has a mantra-like theme, complimentary trumpet and sax statements and fluctuating rhythms. Douglas penned the title track. It’s got a contemplative deportment highlighted by articulating, twinned sax and trumpet notes; a reflective and ruminative arrangement; and a sedate groove accentuated by Fields’ sympathetically kindling keys, Oh’s concentrated bass and Baron’s ticking percussive style. Douglas’ distinct “Mission Creep” has a discrete kind of tension. “Mission Creep” develops from an intermediate verve to a frenetic pace with ramped-up piano, lively trumpet solos and equally sweeping sax improvising.

Lovano’s material is memorable and prominent. Lovano’s “Full Sun” is an eager endeavor which uses bebop as a foundation for an optimistically active arrangement which displays Lovano’s deep awareness of jazz history. Lovano’s nearly seven-minute “The Corner Tavern” has a Latin-jazz punch and a winning, swinging cadence. The way Lovano and Douglas revivify pre-war horn tonalities is a wonder to hear. Fields, Oh and Baron supply a limber rhythmic feel. “Full Sun” is replete with daytime energy whereas Lovano’s lengthy, eight-minute “Full Moon” has an apt, nighttime acclimatization. It’s not slow as sleep. But it does have a measured mannerism where ideas are stretched out and movements shift gradually. Lovano returns to a bop-ish pulse on the shortest tune, the 2:26 “High Noon,” where Lovano changes to G mezzo soprano saxophone and Douglas echoes Freddie Hubbard’s renowned, high tone.

Douglas’s arrangement of Shorter’s “Fee Fi Fo Fum” (found on Shorter’s 1966 LP Speak No Evil) escalates faster and looser than Shorter’s. Here, Douglas veers away from anything which sounds akin to Hubbard (who was on Shorter’s Speak No Evil.) but nevertheless Douglas delivers some fiery soloing. Lovano’s arrangement of “Juju” (the title track from Shorter’s 1965 record) balances Baron’s scuttering percussive aspects, Fields’ dashing piano lines, and Douglas’ snappy, insistent trumpet. When Lovano enters he hints at late-1950s Coltrane. Scandal is marked by cooperative performances. There are solo instrumentalist instances, but as Douglas notes, “The language of our playing has certainly evolved. The whole concept of playing in dialogue, the collective spirit, the sharing of different roles, has grown.”

Dream State
Full Sun
Fee Fi Fo Fum
Ups and Downs
The Corner Tavern
Mission Creep
Full Moon
High Noon

—Doug Simpson

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