Streams of Expression (Blue Note Records)

Joe Lovano Ensemble

Released August 1, 2006

Grammy Nominee for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album 2007

Jazzwise Top 10 Releases of 2006




Hailed by the New York Times as “one of the greatest musicians in jazz history,” saxophone giant Joe Lovano has distinguished himself for some three decades as a prescient and path-breaking force in creative music. He has earned praise not just for his compelling saxophone tone and improvisational ability, but also for his forward-thinking presentation of new musical ideas and ensemble concepts. Streams of Expression, Lovano’s 18th album for Blue Note Records, unites disparate themes from his own discography, not to mention jazz history as a whole.

Streams of Expression reunites Lovano with the great composer, conductor, and musicologist Gunther Schuller (their first collaboration was Rush Hour, Blue Note, 1995), and draws upon everything from the cool school to late-era Coltrane, offering a holistic take on jazz, present and future. The album is comprised of two extended, multipart pieces (Streams of Expression Suite, Birth of the Cool Suite) and three stand-alone tunes (Blue Sketches, Buckeyes, Big Ben) and features an augmented incarnation of Lovano’s nonet from the albums 52nd Street Themes (2000) and On this Day . . . At the Vanguard (2003). Three of the tracks showcase Lovano in a trio setting, recalling his Trio Fascination series, regarded as a contemporary classic.

Track Listing:

1. Streams of Expression: Streams, Pt. 1 (Joe Lovano) 10:53

2. Streams of Expression: Cool, Pt. 2 (Joe Lovano) 7:02

3. The Birth of the Cool Suite: Prelude/Moon Dreams (Gunther Schuller) 6:40

4. The Birth of the Cool Suite: Interlude No. 1/Move/Interlude No. 2 (Gunther Schuller) 8:05

5. The Birth of the Cool Suite: Boplicity/Postlude (Gunther Schuller) 5:29

6. Blue Sketches (Joe Lovano) 4:52

7. Buckeyes (Tim Hagans) 9:30

8. Streams of Expression: Enchantment, Pt. 3 (Joe Lovano) 3:41

9. Streams of Expression: Second Nature, Pt. 4 (Joe Lovano) 6:00

10. Streams of Expression: The Fire Prophets, Pt. 5 (Joe Lovano) 6:55

11. Big Ben (Joe Lovano) 4:47


Joe Lovano: tenor saxophone, alto clarinet, Aulochrome

Tim Hagans: trumpet (1-5,7-10)

Barry Ries: trumpet (1-5,7-10)

Larry Farrell: trombone (1-5,7-10)

Steve Slagle: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute (1-5,7-10)

George Garzone: tenor saxophone (1,2,8-10)

Ralph Lalama: tenor saxophone and clarinet (3-5)

Charles Russo: clarinet, bass clarinet (3-5)

Michael Parloff: flute (3-5)

James Weidman: piano (3-5,7)

Gary Smulyan: baritone saxophone (1-5,7-10)

John Hicks: piano (1,2,8-10)

Dennis Irwin: bass

Lewis Nash: drums

Gunther Schuller: arranger/conductor (3-5)

Recorded December 13 – 14, 2005, at Avatar Studios, New York, NY

Producer: Joe Lovano

Engineered and Mixed: James Farber

Assistant Engineer: Jim Keller, Ross Petersen

Digital Mixing Assistant: Anthony Ruotolo, Brian Montgomery


Joe Lovano never fails to create an impression. Streams of Expression, his eighteenth release for Blue Note, is a suite-within-a-suite that honors and signifies upon a considerable amount of jazz history—cool, modal, avant, bop—with authority and individuality.

The centerpiece of the album is the “Birth of the Cool Suite,” a tribute to the chamber jazz outings of John Lewis, Miles Davis and Gil Evans; updated versions of “Moon Dreams, “Move and “Boplicity are mortared together with new pre-, inter- and postludes composed, arranged and conducted by Gunther Schuller for nonet-plus-three. Bookending the entire set is an original suite by Lovano entitled Streams of Expression, a set of pieces treating Third Stream (“Streams, Pt. 1 ), cool (“Cool ), Mingus/Dolphy-influenced post-bop (“Enchantment ), early free jazz (“Second Nature ) and the ecstatic sound experimentation of Albert Ayler, Archie Shepp, et al. (“The Fire Prophets ). Despite such stylistic dilettantism, Lovano’s casual conviction and smoldering aplomb remain distinctly his own. 

The recording also includes three additional chapters: “Blue Sketches pares down the harmony and instrumentation for a trio outing in D minor; “Big Ben (along with “Fire Prophets ) world-premieres Lovano recording on the Aulochrome (a two-tubed, one-of-a-kind soprano sax-cum-keyboard); while “Buckeyes features the unusual textures and through-composed melodic logic of Tim Hagans—with sound-byte solos democratically doled out among the company, this is one of the set’s strongest pieces. 
In spite of its attempt at overarching compositional architecture, this album is more convincing as a testament to the cohesion of the ensemble, the skill of the contributing arrangers and, above all, Lovano’s chameleonic charisma: changing colors at will, standing out even as he blends in, his off-the-cuff improvisations are effortlessly realized, caught on-the-fly.

Tom Greenland (All About Jazz)