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Joe Lovano
IíM ALL FOR YOU
(Blue Note)
Stars graphics

Lovano, though only 51, plays here with the assurance and wisdom of an ancient master. On this all-ballads set (a mix of originals, hoary standards like "Stella by Starlight" and "Donít Blame Me," a Monk tune, a slowed-down Coltrane "Countdown"), his phrasing is relaxed but never flaccid, and the brawny tone of some of his more up-tempo and out-there excursions has been supplanted by a feathery, smudged charcoal sound with gradations from light-gray-on-white to deepest black. At times heís as high and light as Stan Getz or Warne Marsh or even alto man Lee Konitz. The Konitz connection applies to the way his phrases tumble out in varied strings and clusters, slow, full elaborations on the melody alternated with little half-sounded asides and bent notes. On the Lovano-penned title track, he descends to near-feedback depths for an intimate low-note honk before ascending to a quick-wristed double-time run. As the art-school kids say, thereís an admirable variety in his "mark making," and every gesture makes every other gesture sound good.

It doesnít hurt that Lovanoís bandmates are pianist Hank Jones (now 85), whose touch and melodic acumen Lovano shares, bassist George Mraz, and drummer Paul Motian, who is credited with "drums and cymbals." The credit is apt ó Motianís delicate cymbal hits (perfectly recorded) do as much as anything to inform the albumís varied swing. As for Jones, his unobtrusive but essential harmonies and late-Matisse-like approach to melodic line make you look forward to what Lovanoís going to sound like at 80.

BY JON GARELICK


Issue Date: May 14 - 20, 2004
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