Grammy Award-winning saxophonist Joe Lovano will mark his 21st recording for Blue Note with the release of "Folk Art," fronting a new quintet he formed in 2008. Due May 19, the nine songs are all original Lovano compositions, the first time he’s released only new material on one record. Dubbed the US Five, Lovano finds himself utilizing two drummers, Otis Brown III and Francisco Mela throughout. The recording was made in December of 2008, after a week-long stint at New York’s famed Village Vanguard.
"I was trying to develop an approach- so we could share the space," Lovano tells Billboard.com. "With these two cats- especially the way Otis plays, he comes from a real background of funk and rhythms and Mela comes from the whole Afro-Cuban experience. Having those different personalities in the same group is very different."
The US Five is rounded out with James Weidman on piano and Esperanza Spalding on bass. On the album, Lovano also has room to explore instruments outside of his traditional saxophone, picking up the alto clarinet, aulochrome and gongs.
While the word "folk" has a more singer-songwriter connotation attached to it, Lovano sees the work of jazz musicians a born out of the more broader definition. "I’ve been a lot of amazing bands - I’ve had a chance to play with folks that were really developing within the art of improvising," he says. "And I realized that jazz music is real folk music, from the people. When you really get involved in the folk music around the world- the real native music of the people, it’s a real folk music. And jazz is that. "
Lovano will continue to play with this new quintet for the duration of 2009, including a five night run at Lincoln Center in New York City from June 23-28.
Here is the track list for "Folk Art":
"Song for Judi"