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All About Jazz - Los Angeles


          Joe Lovano

       I'm All For You  



By Anne Farnsworth


   Joe Lovano returns to the quartet formation with I'm All For You, a collection of ballads released on Blue Note. The Cleveland native has been the recipient of numerous awards and critical acclaim since his debut on the national scene with John Scofield's Quartet.  Musically, he seems a restless soul; eager to experiment with different styles and formats, anxious to not repeat himself.

      On I'm All For You, Lovano is backed by a dream team of a rhythm section, Hank Jones, George Mraz, and Paul Motian.  The atmosphere is soft, pensive; how could it be otherwise with Bill Evans' favorite drummer on the drumset?  Bassist George Mraz knits the combo together with his understated, and sometimes underrated, style.

     The set is composed of well-known standards interspersed with a few originals.  The title cut is an original solo over the changes to "Body And Soul", and like Coleman Hawkins' famous recording, never touches the melody. Hank Jones adds most of the intros, setting the mood and leading the rhythm section in an unobtrusive manner.  In a duet, Jones reharmonizes the opening bars of "Like Someone In Love" and backs Lovano with a subtle stride accompaniment.  The peppiest selection is the mid-tempo "Stella By Starlight".  Even John Coltrane's "Countdown" is slowed to a crawl, although Lovano references Trane's signature sheets of sound.

     Joe Lovano is the real deal, a musician unafraid to stretch into new arenas, marketing mavens be damned.  I'm All For You is high quality jazz that reminds the listener of an earlier time, when the stakes weren't the most important thing in the game and musicians played for themselves first.

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