Joe Lovano is part of a select group of established musicians who have been around for so long, achieved so much, and have such an instantly recognizable sound, that a new release is more or less guaranteed to be good. And so it is with Classic! Live at Newport – everybody knows what to expect but that doesn't in any way diminish the enjoyment of listening to it.
Live at Newport finds trumpeter Christian Scott leading his ensemble through a performance at the JVC Jazz Festival in Newport, RI on August 9, 2008. Showcasing the same group that recorded Scott's critically lauded 2007 sophomore album, Anthem, Live at Newport does feature Scott branching out on some new material. Just coming into his own as jazz musician, Scott is nonetheless a talented and deft improviser and his knack for creating brooding, emotionally engaged music brings to mind a mix of '60s Miles Davis and the heady art rock of Radiohead.
This two-CD set (a reissue of an earlier two-LP set plus six previously unreleased numbers) brings back a memorable Carnegie Hall concert that both features and pays tribute to Ella Fitzgerald. The great singer is joined on a few numbers by a Chick Webb reunion band that has a few of the original members (plus an uncredited Panama Francis on drums). Although the musicians do not get much solo space (why wasn't trumpeter Taft Jordan featured?), the music is pleasing. Fitzgerald performs three exquisite duets with pianist Ellis Larkins and then sits out while the Jazz at the Philharmonic All-Stars romp on a few jams and a ballad medley. Trumpeter Roy Eldridge's emotional flights take honors, although tenorman Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and trombonist Al Grey are also in good form. Fitzgerald comes out for the second half of the show and sings 14 numbers with guitarist Joe Pass (including a pair of tender duets) and the Tommy Flanagan trio.