Joe Lovano: Duke Ellington Sound of Love
Duke Ellington's Sound of Love
Joe Lovano (tenor sax)
Symphonica (Blue Note 26225)
Joe Lovano (tenor sax),
with the WDR Big Band and Rundfunk Orchestra.
Arranged and conducted by Michael Abene. Composed by Charles Mingus.
Recorded: Koln, Germany, November 26, 2005
Rating: 97/100 (learn more)
This ballad is a late Mingus composition, which the bassist recorded in two versions (an instrumental as well as vocal featuring Jackie Paris) on his double-LP Changes project for Atlantic. I am not sure why more people don't play this lovely tune, which (despite the title) is much closer to Strayhorn than to Ellington—you might even call it Mingus's "Lush Life."
But Joe Lovano is no stranger to these changes, having covered the piece on his must-have live recording from the Village Vanguard. Yet this new version is completely fresh and different, featuring a very intelligent arrangement by Michael Abene. The intro is haunting and only gets better when Lovano enters in an attenuated dialogue with the orchestra. The rhythm section arrives 1˝ minutes into the piece, but Abene uses it sparingly and to good effect. The textures and rhythmic sensibility are constantly shifting on this lengthy performance, and Lovano navigates through all of it with perfection. While I am usually wary of attempts to pair jazz sax with strings, Lovano shows here (as on his earlier Rush Hour project, a modern masterpiece in my opinion) that he handles this type of setting as well as any living jazz horn player.
Reviewer: Ted Gioia