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Joyous Encounter (2004)

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George Mraz

Continuing the elegant group interplay explored on 2004's I'm All for You, tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano and pianist Hank Jones reunite on Joyous Encounter. Recorded right after finishing the tour in support of the group's aforementioned first outing, Joyous Encounter features a quartet with obvious love for each other and the sound they make together. Once again backed by the stellar rhythm section of bassist George Mraz and drummer Paul Motian, Lovano and Jones showcase their kindred musical spirits with a warm and pleasing mix of deft melodiscm and supple harmony. Expanding upon the ballads-only concept of their previous encounter, this Joyous Encounter finds the ensemble tackling a wide swath of improvisational territory from the urbanely swinging Lovano original "Bird's Eye View," to Thelonious Monk's lightly elegiac "Pannonica," Thad Jones' sweetly gorgeous "A Child Is Born," and even John Coltrane's other classic, the plaintive "Crescent." ~ Matt Collar