At NPR/music First Listen: Joe Lovano Us Five, ‘Bird Songs’
by Patrick Jarenwattananon
January 2, 2011
“It’s been more than 55 years since Charlie Parker last took up an alto saxophone, and just about every jazz musician still grapples with his legacy. Here’s a man who was a central architect behind the revolution of bebop, the closest thing jazz has to a lingua franca today. What he improvised was often searingly fast but seemingly note-perfect; staggeringly intricate, yet filled with tenderness and beauty. In his prime, every recording he left behind was somewhere between a marvel and a definitive statement from the standpoint of playing, composing or some ineffable aesthetic something else.
The tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano is 58 now — not quite old enough to have meaningfully met Charlie Parker, but certainly old enough to have become one of the jazz world’s most celebrated musicians. Like his peers (and antecedents, and successors), Lovano grew up in jazz working out in Bird’s language. Hence Bird Songs, his new album of highly stylized takes on the Charlie Parker songbook.”
See the rest of Patrick’s article, and listen to the whole album or individual tracks here.