Joe Lovano is about as first-tier, A-list and cream-of-the-crop as a jazz saxophonist is even allowed to be anymore. Yes, he has netted one Grammy (among 14 nominations), but that is never the gold star on a jazz curriculum vitae. The gold star, of course, is a) whom you’ve played with, and b) who has played with you. And by this standard, Lovano’s elite stature is stark. The tenor ace and composer has toured with Woody Herman’s Thundering Herd, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Jack McDuff, the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, the Paul Motian Trio, Charlie Haden Liberation Music Orchestra, Carla Bley Band and Elvin Jones’ Jazz Machine. Also: McCoy Tyner, Ed Blackwell, Herbie Hancock, Dave Holland, Hank Jones, Dave Liebman, Michael Brecker, Dave Douglas, Judi Silvano, Ravi Coltrane, Chucho Valdez, Ornette Coleman.
Like many others, I first got to know his unmistakable voice as the soulmate foil of John Scofield on a series of the guitarist’s very best records in the ’90s. But Lovano’s own exceptional projects as leader include the 2000 Grammy-winning 52nd Street Themes and nearly 30 other releases, including the chamber-jazz masterpiece Rush Hour and an outré favorite of mine, 2001’s Viva Caruso, in which Lovano pays tribute to the great Italian tenor in two distinct settings: a rambunctious small “street band” featuring, among others, the adventurous and hip drummer Joey Baron, and in a larger Opera House chamber ensemble, with elegant orchestrations courtesy of Byron Olson.
So, this is a big score for Jazzstock and its endless series of jazz shows at the Senate Garage in Kingston; but, frankly, shows of this caliber have been commonplace for Terri Roiger and John Menegon’s labor-of-passion jazz series in recent years. Best we not take it for granted. On Saturday, March 7, Jazzstock presents an evening of expressive music with Joe Lovano and friends. The friends in question, of course, are drawn from the small handful of people who are actually up to it: pianist Frank Kimbrough, bassist/Jazzstock co-founder John Menegon and drummer Francisco Mela. Tickets cost $25 in advance and $30 on the day of the show.
Joe Lovano, Saturday, Mar. 7, 7:30 p.m., $30/$25, Senate Garage, 4 N Front St., Kingston, https://jazzstock.com