World-famous saxophonist and composer Joe Lovano has his calendar booked for the year. But before he travels to Spain, Turkey, Croatia, Portugal, Canada and Missouri, he will come to Brunswick, Maine. Lovano will perform tonight with his newest ensemble, Us Five.
According to Associate Director of Events and Summer Programs Brenna Hensley, the idea to bring Lovano to campus came out of the president's office.
"Lovano is an original voice in the jazz world," wrote Lecturer of Music and Director of Jazz Ensembles Frank Mauceri in an e-mail to the Orient. "He is comfortable across a range of historical styles, but his saxophone conception is a fresh contribution to the language of jazz."
Mauceri, a saxophone player himself, said that "Lovano is an influence—especially his impressive body of work with the Paul Motian Trio."
"Lovano is the leading tenor saxophone player of his generation," wrote Mauceri. "He exemplifies an accomplished artist, dedicated to an exploration of jazz as a living, growing art."
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Lovano was exposed to jazz music at a very early age—even playing the alto at the age of five. His father, Tony Lovano, was famously known as the "Big T" during his time as a musician.
Since 1985, Lovano has created over 28 albums, many of which have won prestigious awards, including a Grammy for Best Large Ensemble for his album "52nd Street Themes" (2000).
His latest album, "Folk Art" (2007), which features Us Five, is the first-ever Lovano album entirely comprising his own original compositions.
"Folk Art" presents a collection of nine original compositions for Lovano on tenor saxophone, straight alto saxophone, alto clarinet, tarogato, aulochrome and percussion. His ensembles members are James Weidman on piano, Esperanza Spalding on bass, and Otis Brown III and Francisco Mela on drums and cymbals.
Lovano's career includes teaching as well. He first started teaching while he was a member of the popular bandleader Woody Herman's band in the late-1970s.
His impressive resume includes serving as a guest clinician at the Julliard School of Music, the Manhattan School of Music, the New England Conservatory of Music, the Eastern School of Music and the Stanford Jazz Workshop.
Currently, Lovano works with students at the Berklee College of Music.
"From teaching, I've learned how to communicate my ideas verbally so I can explain how I learned to play," states Lovano on his website. "I've also learned how to discuss things that are important about developing a sound, a repetoire, and trying to develop an approach to improvising from your personal history."
For Lovano, teaching requires more than just technical skills: "it's about empowering students to discover the mystical, spiritual aspects of their development as musicians and artists."
"It is important not only to acknowledge the rich heritage we have in jazz, but also to witness the disciplined and inspired searching and probing that continue to give it life and relevance to a contemporary context," said Mauceri, who added that he is looking forward to tonight's concert.
Lovano's concert is not solely an opportunity to enjoy jazz music, but to learn from it as well.
"Concerts like this are not merely occasions for teaching jazz to students," said Mauceri. "They demonstrate that creative performance is a vital input to the intellectual and social life that we want for our community."
Sophomore Nathan Joseph, one of Mauceri's students, is considering majoring in music.
"I'll definitely be attending the concert tonight," said Joseph, who has been studying guitar for more than 10 years. "His performance presents an opportunity to hear one of the greats of contemporary jazz right here at Bowdoin."
"Joe Lovano has been on the cutting edge of the jazz scene for his entire career, and he has played with some of the world's best living musicians," Joseph added.
Many students and community members are eagerly anticipating Lovano's concert; in fact, tickets for it were sold out a long time ago, according to Hensley.
However, some tickets will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis at the box office one hour before the concert.
Lovano and Us Five will perform tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Kanbar Auditorium in the Studzinski Recital Hall.