Lovano returned to Berklee as a faculty member in 2001. For the last few years he has been touring with a group of Berklee faculty and students, including James Weidman
on piano, Esperanza Spalding on bass, and the dual drum sets of Francisco Mela and Otis Brown. The energy of the young players, and particularly of the complex rhythms generated by the drummers, has reinvigorated Lovano, who seems to thrive on the vigor of the band. Even though the rhythm section stays mainly in a safe
mainstream modern jazz zone, the leader often takes more chances than he does in other surroundings, and blends his regular jazz grounding with the lessons he learned from his more avant-garde colleagues, often taking his solos into the outer regions of improvisation. Lovano is a master of rhythmic displacement, and he reacts heartily to the propulsion of the percussion, which is hardly surprising, as he is himself a first-rate drummer.
This quintet is at the Michigan Theater on Friday, November 7. The opening half features Lovano in duets with the wonderful pianist Jason Moran.
[Originally published in November, 2008.]