Happy Birthday Joe Lovano

December 29, 1952

A tribute to one of today’s great tenor-saxophonists

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Tenor-saxophonist Joseph Salvatore Lovano was born on December 29, 1952 in Cleveland, Ohio.

The son of tenor-saxophonist Tony (“Big T”) Lovano, he started to play alto sax when he was six, switching to tenor at 11.

After high school, Lovano attended the Berklee College of Music, and worked with Dr. Lonnie Smith (with whom he made his recording debut in 1975), Jack McDuff, and the Woody Herman Orchestra (1976-78).

After moving to New York, Lovano became a member of the Mel Lewis Orchestra and in 1981 began working and recording with drummer Paul Motian’s groups which eventually became a trio with guitarist Bill Frisell.

Those two long-term associations plus his own solo recording career by the late 1980s made Lovano one of the most significant tenor-saxophonists in jazz.

In addition to his own varied projects (which includes a long string of recordings for Blue Note), Joe Lovano has worked and recorded with the Charlie Haden Liberation Music Orchestra, Jim Hall, John Scofield, Kenny Werner, Vince Mendoza, his wife singer Judi Silvano, Tom Harrell, and special all-star projects (including Saxophone Summit with Michael Brecker and Dave Liebman).

Joe Lovano stretches out on “Portrait Of Jenny,” a beautiful ballad played at the 1994 Montreux Jazz Festival with pianist Kenny Werner, bassist Scott Lee and drummer Jeff Williams.

-Scott Yanow


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