Classic: Live at Newport
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Recorded live at Newport Jazz Festival in 2005 with Hank Jones, George Mraz and Lewis Nash, Classic: Live at Newport, is Joe Lovano s final recording for Blue Note. Wrapping up a storied career, it s his 20th Blue Note album as leader and his 25th overall. The album release will coincide with Joe s appearance at this year s Newport Jazz Festival. Classic is self-produced by Joe, and was mixed and mastered by Kurt Lundvall, the son of longtime Blue Note leader Bruce Lundvall.
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This year, on the way to the 2016 Newport Jazz Festival, I had heard Blue Note finally released the recordings. While memory can often be faulty, this recording confirms the true magic of the set. All of the musicians - Joe Lovano on tenor sax, the legendary Hank Jones on piano, George Mraz on bass, and Lewis Nash on drums- are on fire here. Of particular note here, in my opinion, are Lovano and Jones. Lovano plays his rapid fire notes with a hoarseness that can express so much emotion. Jones plays with such beauty, love and happiness that you cannot help but smile when he solos. This facet of Jones' performance is perhaps most noticeable in his solo on the track "Don't Ever Leave Me" which left those of us in the audience mesmerized.
Behind the two of them though, Mraz and Nash do great work as well. Another great Lovano-Jones album is undoubtedly the Joyous Encounter recording which came out shortly before this performance. Joyous Encounter is a fine album, with the late great Paul Motian on drums instead of Lewis Nash. Motian was an incredible musician (his trio recordings with Lovano and Frisell in particular) but here Nash provides something lacking on the Joyous Encounter album- beats which leave it irresistible not to move to the music. While all of the musicians here provide beautiful and soulful artistry, the switch to Nash as drummer makes it almost impossible not to want to move some part of your body with the music as well.
To be honest, it may seem a tad presumptuous to call a brand new album "a classic," especially one by a musician like Lovano who has so much other memorable work behind him. However, I think years from now when reviewing his discography, this album will stand out as one of his top and I highly recommend it.