Wild Beauty Sonata Suite – The Brussels Jazz Orchestra, featuring Joe Lovano – Half Note Records 4556, 66:30 ****:
(Joe Lovano – tenor sax; Brussels Jazz Orchestra)
Joe Lovano and the Brussels Jazz Orchestra have been nominated for two Grammy Awards for 2013, first for the Best Large Jazz Ensemble for the album Wild Beauty, as well as for Best Instrumental Arrangement by Gil Goldstein for the track “Wild Beauty”. Listen to this album and you will easily understand the reasons for these nominations.
Joe Lovano has been an enigmatic tenor player with his own unique sound that started with bop’s rhythms and harmonic structure. However he was never content to rest on his laurels and was always looking for ways to expand his musical horizons. With regard to The Sonata Suite – Wild Beauty in the liner notes, Lovano says it is: “a flowing set of music that tells the story of who I am as a composer and soloist”.
Beginning with the opening track “Wild Beauty,” Lovano initiates this voyage of discovery much along the lines of the Miles Davis album Miles Ahead but each track is discrete rather than one bridging into the other. The arranger on the album is Gil Goldstein, who at one point in his career was mentored by Gil Evans. While he has developed his own abilities, Evans-like touches can be discerned throughout the album, although the scoring is not as dense or perhaps harmonically interesting as Evans work, he does provide for a strong soundscape for Lovano to develop his ideas. “Powerhouse” is as the name implies, an up-tempo theme that gives the band a structure to offer solo space to pianist Nathalie Loriers and trumpeter Nico Schepers in addition to Lovano’s soaring tenor work over the orchestra.
In dedicating this project to his departed mother, Lovano was conscious of her Sicilian heritage and growing up in the shadow of Mt. Etna, hence the composition “Miss Etna”. The other Italian pieces “Streets Of Naples” and “Viva Caruso” flow back to Lovano’s interest in Enrico Caruso, whose artistry he admires and who was born in Naples Italy. The sounds of Italy can certainly be heard throughout these compositions whether in the use of the instruments, the melodic structure and the evocative playing of Lovano as he delivers his solo efforts organized within the constraints of Goldstein’s arrangements. Regardless of the underlying compositional framework that Lovano has crafted for all the other sections of the suite to build pulsing and harmonic pressure, his tenor sax playing conveys an artist of revelation and confidence.
TrackList: Wild Beauty; Powerhouse; Streets Of Naples; Our Daily Bread; Big Ben; Sanctuary Park; Miss Etna; Viva Caruso