On January 8, 2013, saxophonist and composer Joe Lovano will release Cross Culture, his 23rd Blue Note recording and the third consecutive release by his critically acclaimed quintet, Us Five. To celebrate the album’s release, Lovano will be taking Us Five out on an 11-city U.S. tour that launches January 19 and includes shows at The Mint in Los Angeles (January 22) and Yoshi’s in Oakland (January 24-26) before culminating with two nights at The Allen Room at Jazz At Lincoln Center in New York City (February 22-23).
Cross Culture is an 11-track tour de force that presents 10 of Lovano’s original compositions along with a stunning interpretation of the Billy Strayhorn ballad “Star Crossed Lovers.” Augmenting his core group (pianist James Weidman, bassists Esperanza Spalding or Peter Slavov, and drummers Otis Brown III and Francisco Mela) with the daring West African guitarist – and fellow Blue Note artist – Lionel Loueke, Lovano delivers his most fully realized representation of a career-long quest to explore the notion of universal musical language.
“Since I started to tour in the late ‘70s, I’ve collected instruments from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Eastern and Western Europe, and North and South America,” says Lovano, who, in addition to his instantly recognizable tenor saxophone, improvises on G-mezzo soprano, tarogato, and aulochrome, and plays an array of percussion – bells and shakers, an Israeli paddle drum, and a Nigerian slit drum called an oborom. “I’ve spent a lifetime feeling the passion of experiencing the spirits in the sounds of the collective ancestors in these instruments, creating music but feeling like the earth. It’s coming through in my compositions and in the way we play together.”
Loueke, who himself combines exhaustive knowledge of harmony and folk forms, contributes seamlessly and egolessly to six pieces. “Lionel doesn’t just play the guitar,” Lovano says. “He freely integrates himself with the rhythm section and with me in the front line, and shares the space in a personal way.”