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Joe Lovano, Returning to 'The Birth of the Cool'

Tenor sax player Joe Lovano has revisited some of the most beautiful jazz orchestrations ever recorded, the Miles Davis records known as "The Birth of the Cool."

On his new CD Streams of Expression, Lovano performs three songs arranged by Gil Evans for the Miles Davis Nonet. They're nested in a suite written and arranged by Gunther Schuller.

Lovano says his goal in playing "Move," "Boplicity" and "Moondreams" was to say something new with music he grew up hearing and loving. But he did not want to copy Davis and Evans.

"If I tried to play what Miles played... and it sounded like I was sounding like Miles on a bad day... then I wouldn't do it," Lovano says. "The beauty in the history of jazz," he says, "is that each player has an opportunity to be himself, stand on his own two feet and say something in the music."

The Miles Davis Nonet's subtle harmonic shadings marked the beginnings of what came to be known as the "cool sound" in jazz. Among the musicians was Schuller himself, a young French Horn player. He can be heard on four of the band's 12 78-RPM records.

For Lovano's new recording, Schuller didn't mess with the jewel-like perfection of the Gil Evans arrangements. He made slight adjustments to accommodate Lovano's 12-piece orchestra, adding flute and tenor sax parts. And he added new connecting material to turn three songs into a suite.

Lovano says he will perform the suite in Europe and New York this fall.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Tom Vitale
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