Joseph Salvatore Lovano (born December 29, 1952)[1] is an American jazz saxophonist, alto clarinetist, flautist,[1] and drummer.[2] He has earned a Grammy Award and several mentions on Down Beat magazine's critics' and readers' polls. His wife, with whom he records and performs, is singer Judi Silvano. Lovano was a longtime member of drummer Paul Motian‘s trio with guitarist Bill Frisell.[3]

Joe Lovano
Lovano at the 2005 Newport Jazz Festival
Lovano at the 2005 Newport Jazz Festival
Background information
Birth nameJoseph Salvatore Lovano
Born (1952-12-29) December 29, 1952 (age 70)
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
GenresJazz, modal jazz
Instrument(s)Tenor saxophone
Years active1970s–present
LabelsSoul Note, Evidence, Enja, Blue Note

Biography Edit

Early life Edit

Lovano was born in Cleveland, Ohio, United States, to Sicilian-American parents; his father was the tenor saxophonist Tony ("Big T") Lovano.[1][4] His father's family came from Alcara Li Fusi in Sicily, and his mother's family came from Cesarò, also in Sicily. In Cleveland, Lovano's father exposed him to jazz throughout his early life, teaching him the standards, as well as how to lead a gig, pace a set, and be versatile enough to find work. Lovano started on alto saxophone at age six and switched to tenor saxophone five years later. John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, and Sonny Stitt were among his earlier influences. After graduating from Euclid High School in 1971,[5][6] he went to Berklee College of Music, where he studied under Herb Pomeroy and Gary Burton.[1] Lovano received an honorary doctorate of music from the college in 1998.

Career Edit

After Berklee he worked with Jack McDuff and Lonnie Smith. He spent three years with the Woody Herman orchestra, then moved to New York City, where he played with the big band of Mel Lewis. He often plays lines that convey the rhythmic drive and punch of an entire horn section.[7] In the mid 1980s Lovano began working in a quartet with John Scofield and in a trio with Bill Frisell and Paul Motian.

Joe Lovano, Paul Motian, and Bill Frisell

In 1991 Joe Lovano began a lengthy and acclaimed run on Blue Note Records with Landmarks and From the Soul (the latter featuring Michel Petrucciani, Dave Holland and Ed Blackwell). Many outstanding releases followed, including the highly diverse Rush Hour (tracks range from solo to big band), collaborations with saxophonists Joshua Redman (Tenor Legacy) and Greg Osby (Friendly Fire), 52nd Street Themes (with a nonet), and four albums featuring the classic pianist Hank Jones.

In 1993, he played on the album Anything Went by guitarist Bill DeArango, a native of Cleveland.[7] In the late 1990s, he formed the Saxophone Summit with Dave Liebman and Michael Brecker (later replaced by Ravi Coltrane). Streams of Expression (2006) was a tribute to both cool jazz and free jazz. Lovano and pianist Hank Jones released an album together in June 2007, entitled Kids. He played the tenor saxophone on the 2007 McCoy Tyner album Quartet.

Joe Lovano, George Wein's CareFusion Jazz Festival 55, Newport, Rhode Island, 2009

In 2008 Lovano formed the quintet Us Five with Esperanza Spalding on bass, pianist James Weidman, and two drummers, Francisco Mela and Otis Brown III. Folk Art was an album of compositions by Lovano that the band hoped to interpret in the spirit of the avant-garde jazz and loft jazz of the 1960s.[8] Bird Songs (2011) was a tribute to Charlie Parker.[9] West African guitarist Lionel Loueke appeared on the album Cross Culture (Blue Note, 2013). Lovano played reed and percussion instruments he had collected since the 1970s. Peter Slavov replaced Esperanza Spalding on six tracks, all of them written by Lovano except for "Star Crossed Lovers" by Billy Strayhorn. "The idea [...] wasn't just to play at the same time, but to collectively create music within the music," Lovano wrote in the liner notes to Cross Culture. "Everyone is leading and following," and "the double drummer configuration adds this other element of creativity."[10][11]

In recent years Lovano has released three records with trumpeter Dave Douglas in a co-led group called Sound Prints. He has also moved over to ECM records, largely adopting the mellow vibe and use of space characteristic of the label. He is a high-profile guest on the acclaimed Arctic Riff (2020) by Polish pianist Marcin Wasilewski.

Lovano has taught at the Berklee College of Music.[12] He taught Jeff Coffin after Coffin was given a NEA Jazz Studies Grant in 1991.[13]

Downbeat magazine gave its Jazz Album of the Year Award to Lovano for Quartets: Live at the Village Vanguard.

Instruments Edit

Lovano has played Borgani saxophones since 1991 and exclusively since 1999. He has his own series called Borgani-Lovano, with a pearl silver body and 24K gold keys.[14]

Discography Edit