CD REVIEW: Joe Lovano – Trio Tapestry


Joe Lovano – Trio Tapestry
(ECM 679 6426. CD revew by Peter Bacon)

The saxophonist’s latest band is a bass-less trio with Marilyn Crispell on piano and Carmen Castaldi on drums and percussion.

Lovano also plays tárogató and gongs, and it is the sound of a gong which opens the album. I don’t know whether it’s all in my mind (or my ears) but there is a remarkable similarity of tone and timbre common to the gongs Joe Lovano hits and the notes he blows via reed, tube, pads and bell. It's the sound of the man, I guess.

The title sums up the group dynamic perfectly; this is a trio constantly twisting, weaving and interleaving, three threads dedicated to producing a rich and, generally, comforting whole. There are times when the mood gets a little more edgy – Rare Beauty, for example, and the closer, The Smiling Dog – but mainly the ethos is harmonious, gentle, reflective, meditational even.

The liner notes credit Lovano with all the compositions so the listener should suppose what they are hearing is not freely improvised, though that is sometimes how it sounds – well, not “free” exactly, since there is no reluctance on either Lovano’s or Crispell’s part to play a blues phrase or a bebop line from time to time – but nevertheless there is an atmosphere of the happy wanderer about all three players, going where their own imaginations and those of each other takes them.

According to Lovano’s liner note, the twelve tone process is crucial to both his and Crispell’s approach, and this gives the music a distinctly modern classical tinge. And Castaldi’s style – his use of cymbals sometimes reminds me of Paul Motian and Andrew Cyrille – suits this music perfectly.

It’s an album of moods and atmospheres, the “tunes” oblique and often shrouded. Music the listener leans in to and is likely to learn more from on each listen.

Lovano’s Trio Tapestry will be playing dates in Europe in May.

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