Legend at the Luckman

Grammy-winning Jazz Legend Joe Lovano’s Delivers Powerful Performance at CSULA

Kyle Frizol, Intern

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Although we live in a world today that is constantly changing, there are  traditions and pastimes that carry on throughout generations. Notably, the role that music plays on the mind and morale of the human psyche is just that, undeniable in its importance and deep in rich history and creative movement consistently pushing the genre. However, of all genres that have grown in rich, fertile cultural history, jazz music has endured generations, mass cultural migrations and testament, and has come out unscathed, rather evolved and adapted to the modern individual. Of the numerous titans of jazz, CSULA was fortunate to experience the storytelling and lavish spectrum of melody that Joe Lovano, Grammy-winning Tenor Saxophonist and composer, brought to audiences Saturday evening at the Luckman Theatre of Fine Art.

Joe Salvatore Lovano, born in 1952 in the heart of Cleveland, Ohio, and was the son of Tony “Big T” Lovano, who was a tenor saxophonist keen on the art of “big tone” style. Growing up, he was exposed to the rich history and power that jazz had on individuals and listeners, offering a medium of storytelling very similar to that of a novelist or painter. Alongside the support and reassurance of his large family, Lovano grew up in a collective community of jazz artists, and found a place where he believed his own style could develop and contribute to the overall jazz movement.

In our interview, Mr. Lovano spoke of his humble roots at the Berkelee College of Music in Boston, where he met many other musicians who became lifelong friends and musical inspirations.

“I met and played with beautiful jazz musicians like John Abercrombie, Woody Herman, Dave Holland, and Bill Frisell, who helped me to grow and expand in my musical journey,” Lovano said.

It quickly became evident just how in depth Lovano’s experience in the Jazz world has been, as he mentioned countless individuals who he was exposed to and collaborated with in his career.

Today, Lovano holds the position of the Gary Burton Chair in Jazz Performance at the Berkelee College of Music.

Fast forward 40 years, and Mr. Lovano has developed his own unique style that is easily distinguishable through his expert maneuvering of the saxophone, and his commanding presence on stage.

At his Saturday evening concert at the Luckman Theatre, Joe led his self titled group, “The Joe Lovano Quartet”, which performed over half a dozen original songs found on Lovano’s Blue Note record list, to which he’s personally attributed over 25 albums. Under his record label, Blue Note, Lovano has composed and personally produced work that spans over two decades and has paved the way for tenor saxophonists and the likes of jazz-minded individuals who wish to lead bands and create inspirational and relevant work that is timeless.

In 2014, Lovano was awarded the, “Multi-Reeds Player and Tenor Saxophonist of the Year”, by Jazz Journalists Association, as well as, “Tenor Saxophonist of the Year”, by Downbeat Magazine.

“As a kid, I was learning the concepts about improvisation, and about telling a story inside of the music,” Lovano said in our interview.

Lovano’s demeanor on stage is something that is rarely experienced in modern day live music culture. Through his navigation of the stage, ensuring to cast exposure on the other individuals of the band, and through his connection between instrument and himself, the music seemed to be less a series of orchestrated notes, but an oral story that was simply given a one phrase title to set the focal point of the piece.

For individuals that tend to stay up later in the night and truly bloom creatively and intellectually, Lovano noted, “One of the records in particular that we will be playing tonight is titled Night Owl, which will strike with such individuals.”

Throughout the years since signing with Blue Note in 1991, Lovano’s discography has experienced growth, innovation, and maturity in the prowess of his play style. As evident in his recent awards provided in 2014, Lovano is not only a Grammy-winning composer, but an artist who has cemented his name and influence on the jazz and musical community for life.

Lovano left off with, “Music is a blessing for all of us, so I hope you enjoy the show.”

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Legend at the Luckman