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Rush Hour (1994)

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Judi Silvano

This is one of the most exciting jazz releases of 1995. Joe Lovano is showcased on four songs backed by a string section, is accompanied by a stringless big band filled with woodwinds and brass during four other pieces, performs Ornette Coleman's "Kathline Gray" with a chamber group, takes two songs as duets with his wife Judi Silvano (who contributes wordless vocals), plays his own "Wildcat" as an overdubbed feature for his tenor and drums, and does a straightforward version of "Chelsea Bridge" unaccompanied. Gunther Schuller's arrangements for the larger pieces (which include three of his own colorful originals: "Rush Hour on 23rd Street," "Lament for M," and "Headin' Out, Movin' In") expertly blend together Gil Evans-type orchestrations with aspects of modern classical music and freer forms of jazz, while allowing the music to swing. Silvano's voice is also an asset on three of the orchestra performances, and trumpeter Jack Walrath briefly makes his presence felt. However, this very well-conceived release would not have succeeded were it not for the talent, versatility and risk-taking of Joe Lovano. His improvisations (mostly on tenor) push the boundaries of this already adventurous music and his sound (which occasionally hints a little at Clifford Jordan) is quite original; on the basis of this date alone, Lovano must rank as one of the top tenors of the 1990s. ~ Scott Yanow