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Universal Language (1992)

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Tim Hagans

Universal Language is one of Joe Lovano's most ambitious and successsful albums, an attempt to prove the cliché that music is indeed the universal language. He does this by writing a set of ten original compositions that cover a broad spectrum of sounds and styles, from hard bop to worldbeat-influenced post-bop. His band -- trumpeter Tim Hagans, drummer Jack DeJohnette, pianist Kenny Werner, vocalist Judi Silvano and bassists Charlie Haden, Scott Lee and Steve Swallow -- handle the subtleties of the music expertly, bringing the melodic themes into unexpected territory. Silvano's voice is used as texture, not a lead instrument, which helps give the music complexity and an otherworldly depth. It's an unabashedly adventurous and risky project, and it works frighteningly well. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine