Joe Lovano & Dave Douglas Sound Prints

Other Worlds
Greenleaf Music GRE-CD-1084

Despite the comic book style futuristic art work and the sci-fi suggestive title of this CD, Other Worlds is actually a modern mainstream date led by trumpeter Dave Douglas and tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano. Working in this configuration on-and-off since 2013, the ensemble interpreting five Douglas compositions and an equal number of Lovano’s includes veteran drummer Joey Baron and younger players, pianist Lawrence Fields and bassist Linda May Han Oh.

With the rhythm section laying down a connective beat and most tunes encompassing brief solo spots for all, the co-leaders don’t steal the spotlight. They do add enough technical torque to move the pieces forward while avoiding obvious FreeBop clichés. In fact the power and pressure resulting makes the group come across as an updated Jazz Messengers. It’s only Lovano’s “The Flight” coincidentally the longest track, where the band takes several steps beyond that, including squeezed near-screeches from the trumpeter and high-pitched grainy flutter tonguing from Lovano. While the exposition suggests a search for even more intense textures, the track includes a light, swinging pulse. Otherwise the tracks delineated by ambulatory marches, stop-time emphasis, contrapuntal vamps and fluid variations impress with unmatched professionalism. Baron’s cymbal crashes or bass drum emphasis create expressive introductions as well as fluid motion; Fields often doubles the horn solos with in-place comping when not detouring onto baroque coloration or swift glissandi; while Oh’s responsive low pitches emphasize the narrative flow.

As for the co-leaders, who have worked in more challenging situations, Lovano may occasionally try extended techniques such as flattement and scoops, but this program is sound extension not textural uprising. Tunes like Lovano’s connected “Space Exploration” and its coda “Shooting Stars” and Douglas’ “Pythagoras” prove this. They may include arching brass tones in the last case or layered circling counterpoint on the first two but the bottom line underlines forthright narratives. Overall the quintet shows integrity in emphasizing earthbound calm matched with clarion playing.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Space Exploration 2. Shooting Stars 3. Life on Earth 4. Manitou5. Antiquity to Outer Space 6. The Flight 7. The Transcendentalists 8. Sky Miles 9. Pythagoras 10. Midnight March

Personnel: Dave Douglas (trumpet); Joe Lovano (tenor saxophone); Lawrence Fields (piano); Linda May Han Oh (bass) and Joey Baron (drums)