Lovano Salutes Lundvall, Hank Jones on 25th Blue Note Disc


Lewis Nash (left), Joe Lovano, George Mraz and Hank Jones at the Newport Jazz Festival in Newport, Rhode Island, on August 14, 2005.

(Photo: John Abbott)

Joe Lovano will add the 25th album to his Blue Note discography on July 29 with the release of Classic: Live At Newport, which the Grammy-winning saxophonist has dedicated to the memory of pianist Hank Jones (1918–2010) and longtime Blue Note president Bruce Lundvall (1935–2015).

Recorded on Aug. 14, 2005, at the Newport Jazz Festival, the album captures the Joe Lovano Quartet with a then 87-year-old Jones, as well as bassist George Mraz and drummer Lewis Nash.

Lovano first assembled an ensemble with Jones and Mraz for the 2004 ballads album I’m All For You (the drummer for that session was Paul Motian). The album was well received, and the quartet returned to the studio in 2005 to record Joyous Encounter, which was released in May 2005.

That summer Lovano took his working quartet (which replaced Motian with Nash on drums) on a European tour before returning to the States to perform at Newport.

“With Lewis the music took on a much more hard-hitting approach, and I felt a need to record us live at Newport, even though I knew it couldn’t be released at the time,” Lovano recalled.

“This was truly my Classic Quartet in every sense of the term,” Lovano said. “Hank Jones was clearly one of the modern jazz geniuses of all time and he elevated us all with his imagination and inspiration. His accompaniment and solos were full of love, poetry and searching; he made you feel so good all the time. … His wisdom and knowledge about music and life, his humor, wit, passion and love will always inspire and be with me.”

Classic: Live At Newport captures the quartet’s entire 6-song set, which opened with the Lovano blues “Big Ben” and featured songs drawn from the band’s studio albums, including two songs written by Jones’ brother Thad (“Don’t Ever Leave Me” and “Kids Are Pretty People”). The album closes with a performance of Oliver Nelson’s “Six And Four.”

The release of Classic: Live At Newport coincides with the start of the 2016 Newport Jazz Festival, which runs from July 29–31. Lovano will be performing at the festival with guitarist John Scofield, reuniting another quartet that made a series of memorable Blue Note albums in the early 1990s (Lovano also appeared on Scofield’s Grammy-nominated album, Past Present, released in September 2015 the Impulse! label).

Also in July, Lovano will reprise his 1995 double album Quartets: Live At The Village Vanguard with a two-week stand at the titular New York City club. Lovano will be appearing at the Vanguard with pianist Kenny Werner, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Andrew Cyrille from July 5–10, followed by a week with trumpeter Tom Harrell, bassist Anthony Cox and drummer Billy Hart from July 12–17.

Quartets: Live At The Village Vanguard has recently been reissued on vinyl as part of the Blue Note Records 75th Anniversary Vinyl Reissue Series. For more info, visit the label’s website.

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