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Flying Colors (1997)

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Joe Lovano

This austere session was inspired by a fluke incident. In 1995, Rubalcaba's Cuban rhythm players were denied visas for a gig at Yoshi's in Oakland, CA, and the booker decided to bring in Lovano in their place for four nights of duos. Two years later, they went into the studio together for one day, playing live with only two microphones and no overdubs in hope that lightning might strike again. But it doesn't, for the two don't interact fluidly, and many of the tracks are awkwardly conceived and waywardly developed.Lovano's tone on "straight" tenor sax, soprano sax and alto clarinet sometimes sounds rough, exacerbated by the dry, unresonant sonics, and occasionally he tries to add interest by striking a drum kit and some "gongs" that sound like pot covers. Rubalcaba's world-class technical chops are mostly reined in, with only a few outbreaks of avant-garde temperament, and rhythmically he mostly has nowhere to go. Neither artist, nor their fans, are well-served by this admittedly gutsy gamble.