Stellar saxophonist Joe Lovano will headline the fifth annual Super Jazz Festival, which will take place on October 2 and 3 at the Payis Performing Art Center in Ashdod.
The 60-year-old Lovano, who has been one the leading lights of the jazz fraternity for some years now, has put out an eclectic range of albums over the last three-plus decades that addresses a wide swath of subgenres, styles and mindsets. His latest album, Cross Culture, on which he collaborates with his UsFive band of four years – pianist James Weidman, bassist Esperanza Spalding and drummers Otis Brown III and Francisco Mela – provides ample evidence of Lovano’s unceasingly exploratory ethos. There is a delightfully tripping outing on the Billy Strayhorn ballad “Star-Crossed Lovers,” with Lovano leading the way with a sinewy solo on tenor saxophone, while “Myths and Legends” is a far less structured affair, with Lovano and the rest of the gang unfurling ethereal lines all over the show.
Lovano will bring his wealth of experience to the Super Jazz Festival fray and will be joined by his wife, vocalist Judi Silvano; festival artistic director pianist Leonid Ptashka; bass player Valery Lipets; and drummer Evgeny Maistrivsky on the second day of the festival.
The Grammy-winning Lovano has been at the forefront of the global jazz circuit for some years.
Cross Culture is his 23rd release on the legendary Blue Note label and his third with UsFive.
The sexagenarian saxophonist began playing the alto version of the instrument as a child, following in the footsteps of his tenor playing dad Tony “Big T” Lovano. Naturally, there was plenty of paternal musical guidance in the youngster’s early years. Big T not only schooled his son in the basics of playing music, but he also educated him about dynamics and interpretation and regularly exposed him to live performances of international jazz artists such as Sonny Stitt, James Moody, Dizzy Gillespie, Gene Ammons and maverick multi-instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk.
After graduating from high school, Lovano continued his musical education at Berklee College of Music in Boston and quickly acquired some valuable hands-on knowledge as a sideman with the likes of organists Lonnie Smith and Brother Jack McDuff. In 1976 he secured a three-year tour with renowned clarinetist, saxophonist, singer and big band leader Woody Herman’s Thundering Herd ensemble.
Lovano maintained a steep learning curve by moving to New York and joining the Mel Lewis Orchestra for its regular Monday night concerts at famed New York venue Village Vanguard between 1980 and 1992 and appearing on six albums with the orchestra in the process. During that time, he also worked with veteran drummer Paul Motian and has enjoyed fruitful confluences with jazz artists from across the stylistic spectrum, from guitarist John Scofield, pianist Herbie Hancock and singer Abbey Lincoln to free-flowing reedman Ornette Coleman and pianist McCoy Tyner.
Lovano has also put in several appearances at the Red Sea Jazz Festival in Eilat over the years, including as a member of the Saxophone Summit collective, alongside fellow saxophonists Dave Liebman and the late Michael Brecker, and later with Ravi Coltrane replacing Brecker. Veteran jazz writer Ben Ratliff once called Lovano “one of the greatest musicians in jazz history.”
Elsewhere in the two-day program, pianist Ptashka is among the leading performers on the roster that includes the likes of Muscovite pianist Anatoly Kroll, US trombonist Emily Asher and her merry Garden Party troupe, and emerging New York saxophonist Yaacov Yon Mayman. Trad jazz lovers should enjoy the spot with trumpeter Avraham Felder Agashkin and his high-energy IsraDixie Band. And if you’re looking for a more voluminous sound, Ptashka’s synergy with the Ashdod Symphony Orchestra should cater to that.
For tickets and more information: (08) 956-8111; 050-759-8096; and www.mishkan-ashdod.co.il.