Joe Lovano | Folk Art – [Blue Note Records, 2009]Joe Lovano pulls in an experienced pianist, James Weidman, and a young rhythm section of Esperanza Spalding on bass, and Otis Brown and Francisco Mela on drums for “Folk Art“. Unfortunately, the mix puts the bass and drums in the back, so even though they’re doing good stuff back there, you don’t tend to notice without focusing on it. The good news is that Lovano is in fine form, and Weidman is very good. The songs are all originals, and mostly good. Lovano resists the urge to be too crowd-pleasing and plays in a way to reward some concentration.
One exception is “Dibango“, which features the aulochrome, a horn with a buzzy, distinctive tone. The melody gives instant gratification, in contrast to the more cerebral stuff. This is very solid, serious, mainstream jazz worth recommending. —Anthony Cooper