Friday, June 24th, 2022, saxophonist Joe Lovano
's group Sound Prints (alongside trumpeter and co-leader Dave Douglas
) delivered a tour de force performance to spellbound audience members at the historic Mimi Ohio Theatre in Playhouse Square as a part of Cleveland's annual Tri-C JazzFest
. Seasoned group interplay between drummer Rudy Royston
, bassist Matt Penman
, and pianist Leo Genovese
characterized the quintet's languid execution of modern bop-fueled repertoire and served as the perfect complement to the colorfully virtuosic musical conversations between Lovano and Douglas.
Two days prior nestled in his Eastlake, Ohio family home on a sweltering summer evening, Lovano sat down with All About Jazz
contributor and fellow saxophonist Matthew Alec
of Cleveland Time Records
for an inspiringly epic in-depth look at his esteemed career collaborating with jazz's finest talents, his family's history as well as the deep roots of jazz in the great city of Cleveland
, and his thoughts and hopes on what music he has yet to offer. All About Jazz:
Joe Lovano thank you so much for joining me here today at your home in East Lake, Ohio. Joe Lovano:
Yeah, well, thanks for inviting me to share some thoughts and talk about some music. AAJ:
Absolutely. You were born here in Cleveland in late 1952. What are your memories from the city from your childhood and what has this city meant to you personally? JL:
Well, it was all about my family and growing up in an incredible musical household. All four of my grandparents came to the States from Sicily, from two little villages. The Lovano-Faraci family from Alcara li Fusi and the Verzi-Serenitti family, on my mom's side, from Cesaro; both in the Province of Messina and overlook Mount Etna. So, they came, you know, 1906, 1912, 1913, those years, and so, I grew up in an amazing, beautiful home with a lot of love and a lot of music. Those are my earliest memories.
My dad was one of the leading saxophone players around Cleveland in his time. He was born in 1925. My Uncle Nick was born in 1915 and also played tenor saxophone. Uncle Joe, 1923 maybe, he played tenor saxophone. My Uncle Carl played trumpet and he was born in 1928, I think.
So, I grew up with that happening around me, you know. It was amazing because I heard a lot of music. My grandmother Faraci, my dad's mom, her family was real musical and when I started to go to Sicily and play, and play in those villages, I started to meet so many cousins and people in my family that were all musicians. They played in the bandista that was formed in 1900 in Alcara li Fusi. So, I've had some real deep roots in music in my family. It was a very natural, organic process about trying to learn how to play and to develop in the beautiful world of jazz. The deepest expressive music from your heart and soul that we have. AAJ:
What age did you start playing the saxophone? JL:
You know when I was a real kid. Five or six years old I had a horn. There's a picture of me in my recording Tenor Legacy
(Blue Note, 1993) with my mom and I may be six or eight months old with an alto saxophone. My dad took the picture and it's in the booklet of my recording Tenor Legacy
that features Joshua Redman
on saxophone. I started to learn how to put the reed on and toot on the mouthpiece, five and six years old. Then started to learn about the mechanics of the instrument. but I got serious around 12. I started to play tenor saxophone. From the alto, I went to a C melody in fifth and sixth grade, and in seventh grade I got my first tenor. So, in my teenage years was all about learning the repertoire and listening. My dad had an amazing record collection that I grew up with and that's what it was all about during that period. Those earliest years were about listening and hearing and starting to hear what you were listening to. To realize what you were listening to. The different personalities on the saxophone and on every instrument and hearing my dad play live, right in front of me. That inspired me to try to create a sound and learn about what a sound is. It's not just the tone you get, it's the approach and how you study melodies, rhythms, and harmonies. So, that became an early awareness in my teenage years. So, by the time I was 15 or 16, I joined a musician's union and started to play gigs. AAJ:
Local 4, I think you said. JL:
Local 4 is the union here in Cleveland, which my whole family has been a part of. My Uncle Nick and my dad. That was kind of amazing, because it was at the time you get your driver's license and I started to play in bands, and weddings, and different kind of gigs. I was developing as a soloist, so I was getting called by some folks in my dad's generation, also, at that time. Starting to, you know.
First, I would sub for him, because he was leading bands and always playing five and six nights a week during that time. He was getting called for a lot of gigs he couldn't do and he'd send me, because all of my lessons were about learning songs and being able to express those tunes with a band. So, I learned from all the musicians in Cleveland that were my dad's generation and some amazing, fantastic musicians on piano, bass, drummers, some singers, guitar players, and other saxophone players that all became my mentors for me. AAJ:
Tell me about some of the clubs in Cleveland at the time. JL:
During my time, where I first went to hear some people were some places my dad was playing. A club called Sir-Rah's House, where I went, my dad took me, to hear Gene Ammons
. That was 1970 and I was still in high school. There was another club called the East Town Motel that was on Euclid Avenue that I heard Dizzy Gillespie
, Sonny Stitt
, Rahsaan Roland Kirk
, Jimmy Smith
, and James Moody
I was with a little crowd of cats in my generation that we were all starting to play together and listen. I remember, we went, my friend Ron Smith
, a great vibes player, we eventually went to Berklee together in the early '70s. Frank Doblekar, another saxophonist that we were in high school together. We went, we heard Rahsaan Roland Kirk, we heard James Moody, and we went to a matinee and James Moody, man, played the most amazing set of music.
I heard Eddie Jefferson
on vocals who sang famous solos by Miles Davis
, John Coltrane
, and others. He put lyrics to the solos, we knew the solos, and now we're hearing like a story within the lyrics of the solos. "Moody's Mood for Love" was a big hit for him and it was one of his solos when he was pretty young on "I'm in the Mood for Love," very famous solo in jazz, and Moody, they took a break, he comes walking over to our table, sits down, and he says "Oh, so you guys musicians?" Man, it was so beautiful because we were in his audience, man, and he checked us out he was looking at us while he was playing, you know, and he sees these young cats at this table and he came over.
Years later, I got to know James Moody pretty well through the years and played with him a couple of times, but I always told him that story how much that meant to us. He was one of the first real generous folks that I met that was a world-renowned, famous, amazing improviser, musician, and person. He was all about humanity and love.
So, those early experiences gave me a lot of confidence to try to get myself together. You're in folks audiences and then all of a sudden they're in your audience at some point. That keeps happening your whole life in jazz and in music in general. As that's happening, you're always inspired, and it reaches you into new places and takes you to new places. You're reaching forth all the time. AAJ:
Beautiful. The Berklee College of Music
, you started in 1972, why did you decide to go there and what all did you take from that experience? JL:
Well, it was 1971. AAJ:
'71, my apologies. JL:
I had just graduated high school and some friends of mine had been to the summer program that summer before. Great drummer Carmen Castaldi
, who's in my current band Trio Tapestry, great drummer from Cleveland, him and I and my friend Ron Smith went to Berklee together. We went there because we were developing, and we heard about this school that was all about jazz and it had some very famous folks on the faculty. Charlie Mariano
, a great saxophonist, John LaPorta
, another innovative saxophonist who played with the Woody Herman
band in the '40s, and there were some folks that we wanted to study with, so we went and checked it out.
I went because of Charlie Mariano and, of course, that was the semester he split and moved to Europe. So, Gary Burton
came in and took Charlie's place at Berklee. So, I ended up studying with Gary Burton and my friend Ron Smith, also. He's a great vibes player and composer and was one of Gary's top students. So, it just happened to happen like that it was incredible, you know. I was placed in one of Gary's ensembles and had a chance to study with him. It was the first time I played some music outside of the standard jazz repertoire, because Gary was playing with Keith Jarrett
and played with Stan Getz
. He was on very famous recordings with Stan Getz, actually. He brought in all this music, he had done a duet recording with Chick Corea
called Crystal Silence
(ECM, 1993) with piano and vibes and also was playing Carla Bley
's music, and he brought in tunes to the ensemble that he was recording, and he was playing. That was amazing because suddenly you're playing with someone that is living that music, you know. He wasn't just recreating a famous tune, the tunes he was playing were soon to be famous. He was so expressive in his direction and his influence was running very deep.
So, studying with Gary, also studying with John LaPorta, who I mentioned played with the Woody Herman band in the '40s and was on the Metropole jazz all-star recording with Charlie Parker
, Dizzy Gillespie, and others. Records that I kind of knew. They were in my dad's collection. AAJ:
Right, because getting back to that, that was like that was my schooling was all the recordings. My dad heard Charlie Parker live. He heard Lester Young
. He played in the jam session with John Coltrane in the early '50s. Coltrane was on alto, playing in Cleveland in a blues band. AAJ:
Oh, too cool. JL:
There was a lot of music going on in my dad's life, from when he came back from the service in the late '40s into the '50s. So, his experiences he translated to me, his inspiration from being in the room with Charlie Parker and Gene Ammons and playing in jam sessions with "Jug" and Coltrane. My dad had all their records through the years. So, as I'm growing up, my dad's record collection was amazing. I didn't have to buy a record for a long time until I started to add to the collection. Those are in my high school years. So, I'm not only learning about the people that are playing, you know, Max Roach
's band with Clifford Brown
, Harold Land
and Sonny Rollins
, Miles Davis's bands with John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley
, Art Blakey
with Clifford Brown
and Lou Donaldson
All of these amazing personalities in the music I embraced and really tried to understand the music and the feeling behind the rhythm of it all, you know, because everybody has their own rhythm and when you can execute your own rhythm inside the harmony with melody then all of a sudden, you're starting to say something and not say something somebody else said, saying it on your own because you're feeling it. So, those early years just kind of inspired me to carry on and going to Berklee was a big part of it because all of a sudden, then I'm there already way into the music.
A lot of folks go to Berklee, especially today, they're learning about jazz and they're just starting to understand the history of the music. When I went at 18, I already had some deeper roots about what was happening and I had a repertoire, so I started to play with some of the faculty cats right away, because I knew the music that they were playing and I was able to sit in. I never left my pad without my horn and I created a lot of opportunities because of that at that time.
Some of the folks I was at Berklee with are people I play with today. Folks like John Scofield
and Bill Frisell
, two amazing guitarists that are the leading voices in the music today. Joey Baron
on drums, who's the original drummer in our band Sound Prints today. Joey went on and played with Carmen McRae
and Al Jarreau
. We collaborate a lot. Kenny Werner
, one of the great pianists and teachers. A very innovative musician and he's a guru to a lot of folks these days. That's where I met Kenny, a brilliant pianist, you know. Billy Drewes
, saxophone. Billy Pierce
, saxophone. George Garzone
, saxophone. Jerry Bergonzi
was from Boston
, also. We all started to know each other and play together back then in our late teens and early 20's. Those things are carrying on today.
So, Berklee was very important. 1971-72 for me and then 1973 was when I first started to tour and play a lot of gigs on my own. AAJ:
Yeah, Dr. Lonnie Smith
Dr. Lonnie Smith came together, that was 1974. That had a certain Cleveland connection because he was looking for a tenor player and he heard about me and he played at the Smiling Dog Saloon with Lou Donaldson. Somehow my name came up and he got my number. I was back up in Boston at the time playing some gigs and he called my house and spoke with my mom and she called me in Boston. She said, "Somebody named Lonnie Smith is looking for you."
I was hip to Lonnie from his recordings on Blue Note
as a leader and from playing with Lou Donaldson. He was on the famous Alligator Bogaloo
(Blue Note, 1967), one of the first funky records and it was a hit record on Blue Note Records
at that time in the '60s. Anyway, my mom gave me his number and I called him. He was living in Detroit
at the time and he told me he's been hearing about me and he flew me out to Detroit to play some gigs. That's when I joined his band and I ended up coming to New York with him shortly after that and recording in the studio for the first time on one of his recordings called Afro-desia
(Groove Merchant, 1975). George Benson
was on guitar and we stayed at George's pad which was pretty amazing. That was a big springboard for all things that came through that experience and that recording, which got a lot of radio play. Without me even realizing that, all of a sudden I started to have a reputation about the music. AAJ:
You had told me that Michael Brecker
indicated that he was listening to you on that record. JL:
It was a funny story about the first time I met Mike. I think it was around 1975 and the record had just come out. He was playing with the Billy Cobham
band and I was home here in Cleveland, still working with Lonnie Smith. John Scofield just took John Abercrombie
's place in Billy Cobham's band. Also that band had Randy Brecker
on trumpet, Glenn Ferris
on trombone, and Don Grolnick
on keyboards. So, I went to their gig. I was hanging with John, you know, because we knew each other from Berklee. So, I met Mike and I go to him and I'm saying, "Oh, Mike I love your playing, man. Like all the things you did with Horace Silver
." Of course, he was just at the beginning of his career, also. This was 1975. So, he had been on the scene already since the early '70s, '71. He was already on the New York City
scene recording and doing many things, but he had the Horace Silver gig before this Billy Cobham gig which was a very important gig for him. AAJ:
Oh, yeah. JL:
He kind of followed Bennie Maupin
, Joe Henderson
, and a rich lineup of saxophone players in Horace Silver's band when Mike got the gig. Randy was also a part of the Horace Silver band before Mike. He got Mike on the gig, but Mike got himself on the gig with how he played, but Randy was in the band with Bennie Maupin and when Bennie split, Mike came in and auditioned. When I met Mike, I started saying, "Yeah, you know, wow beautiful, so nice to meet you, man and you've been an inspiration." He immediately says, "Oh, I've been listening to you!" I didn't realize that the record I was on with Lonnie was getting so much radio play at the time, but it was. On New York jazz radio they were playing this record a lot. So, he started talking about that. AAJ:
Pretty cool compliment. JL:
No, no, it was just that you realize your reputation is out there, but when you document some things on record, people are hearing it. That's why recording is so important and to have a serious focus when you go in the studio about creating music within the music. Even at that young age I think I tapped into that approach. AAJ:
Yeah, that's great advice. Yeah, absolutely. I had it noted that you moved to New York City circa 1975, is that is that right? JL:
Well, I started to go to New York to play with Lonnie and "Brother" Jack McDuff
in '74-5 and played up in Harlem
at the Club Baron which was a famous club on 145th Street and Lenox. Miles played there with John Coltrane. It was it was one of those clubs up in Harlem that everybody played. Jimmy Smith, all the groups, you know. So, we played there with McDuff. We did two weeks there, and I remember staying at a hotel in Midtown. During that time, I started to go around and meet a lot of folks. I was there on a gig, I wasn't living in New York yet, but playing with Lonnie around the city and then Brother Jack.
I started to go and sit in and go to different clubs, go to the Village Vanguard
. There was a club called The Tin Palace where a lot of folks played that I ended up sitting in and meeting Henry Threadgill
and a bunch of folks there. Sam Rivers
had a place, Studio Rivbea on Bond Street in Soho and I went there and heard Sam Rivers with Dave Holland
on bass and Barry Altschul
on drums. Really amazing trio that he had at that time. Anthony Braxton
, also. Rashied Ali
was John Coltrane's last drummer had a place called Ali's Alley and it was like a loft. He lived upstairs and the first floor, like Studio Rivbea of Sam Rivers, the first floor was like a music room. There was no bar, no liquor, and it was just a listening room and they lived upstairs in that same building. Sam lived upstairs and Rashied had a pad in the building that he had.
I went down I sat in with Albert Dailey
, great pianist, and he was playing with Rashied that night and he said, "Oh, you ought to come, come down, you know." Reggie Workman
was playing bass, who also played with John Coltrane. Albert on piano and there were two saxophone players who I got real friendly with. Jimmy Vass
on alto and Marvin Blackman on tenor. Both had beautiful personalities and played, they really played. So, I had my horn, and Albert introduced me to Rashied Ali and I asked him if I could sit in. He said, "No." No one had ever said no to me! I couldn't believe it. AAJ:
So, I said to him, "Oh, Rashied, I love your playing, man, and I'd love to play a tune with you." He goes, "Oh, yeah? Okay, come on up." So that that kind of threw me for a loop for a second but I'll remember man I played "Airegin" with him and with these other two saxophone players. I was just meeting everybody for the first time. We had a nice exchange of music together.
I had a relationship with Rashied until he passed in more recent years and recorded with him which was amazing. That was right before I moved to New York. Then 1976 came and I really feel like that's when I moved to town. I stayed with Kenny Werner and some folks who had some pads. Billy Drewes and some other folks from Boston all moved to New York around the same time, 1975-76. Scofield, everyone was coming to New York. So, there was a community that we were a part of in Boston that came to New York, now. So, now that Boston community is starting to integrate into the community in New York City, which is incredible.
I think it was three or four months and I got the call to join the Woody Herman band from playing with some folks and sitting in. I met Joe Romano
, a great tenor saxophonist from Rochester
, who played with Woody in the '60s, Sal Nistico
, he was in some real famous bands. Joe, in the 60s, with Woody and they called him to come back to the band and rejoin the band for Woody's 40th anniversary year which was 1976. He emerged in '36 as a bandleader, so this was his 40th anniversary year and Joe didn't want to go back on the road. We had just played together with Albert Dailey, and I gave him my number where I was staying.
When they called him, the road manager of Woody Herman's band Bill Byrne
was one of the trumpet players, Joe gave him my name. He said, "No, I don't feel like coming back on the road right now, I'm in New York and call this young man." They called me and I flew out to St. Louis
and joined the band. AAJ:
Oh, beautiful. JL:
Yeah, it was like one of those things, it's just that I didn't have my own apartment yet in the city, I was staying with some friends, with Billy Drewes and Kenny Werner. Kenny's loft became my loft in 1978, while I was still on Woody's band. I ended up staying on Woody's band for two and a half years. It was an amazing experience, man. That first year we played at Carnegie Hall for the anniversary in November. I was in the saxophone section, but the concert featured all the all-stars and the greats from Woody's history. I'm speaking of Flip Phillips
, Zoot Sims
, Al Cohn
, Jimmy Giuffre
, and Stan Getz. Also, Phil Wilson
on trombone, the Candoli Brothers
on trumpets, Don Lamond
on drums and Chubby Jackson
. I mean throughout the band every section had some amazing, masterful musicians. AAJ:
Yeah, one of the great big bands. JL:
Oh, it was incredible, you know. I found myself standing next to Stan Getz playing "Early Autumn," playing my part with him playing lead at the front mic, and that was one of the big moments for me. To try to blend and make Stan feel my feeling in the way I played my part, not just to play the notes, but to support him and his lead, you know. I learned that from my dad, man. Growing up playing with two tenors and playing with other saxophone players through the years. That felt amazing, man, and to have Stan Getz's embrace at 23 was something.
Yeah, it was a big springboard for things. You have all these springboards along the way that happen in your development and in your personal history as an improviser and a storyteller. When you're playing with some beautiful storytellers, that influence stays with you. It goes beyond a technical approach on your instrument, because you have to have your technique together. You have to get around your horn, you have to play in all 12 keys, and you have to deal at all tempos, but then to be expressive within that is another element of storytelling. That's what jazz is all about. The blues telling us, trying to tell the story within whatever the music is.
So, Stan Getz was important for me to meet and to have his embrace because my dad played opposite Stan Getz in 1950-51. My mom remembered going and hearing my dad when they were engaged. Playing opposite Stan Getz at a club here in Cleveland, a very famous club called Lindsay's Sky Bar. It's where Charlie Parker played, Billie Holiday
, all kinds of folks in the late '40s into the '50s. I mean Billie Holiday played there a lot and my dad heard Charlie Parker with strings at Lindsay's Sky Bar. AAJ:
Oh, that's beautiful. JL:
Yeah, and if you could go in history books and read about Charlie Parker's diary, there's a Charlie Parker diary that speaks of gigs between 1945 and '55 when he passed. It goes through his itinerary. Cleveland's in there a lot. You see it. My dad always talked about hearing Bird with strings and then all of a sudden, I got this book and I found it in the book, what he was talking about, you know.
My mom remembered hearing my dad play opposite Stan Getz and Flip Phillips, also, who was also on the Woody Herman 40th anniversary concert and was on all those Jazz at the Philharmonic dates with Lester Young, Bird, Ben Webster
, and Illinois Jacquet
. Flip Phillips was another Italian American, incredible improvising storyteller on a tenor saxophone that stood toe-to-toe with Coleman Hawkins
. So, he was there, and he was a very early influence for many things from that period, that era.
So, joining Woody Herman's band was incredible for me and I stayed in the band until 1979, the beginning of '79. Right before that's when I acquired my loft on 23rd Street and 7th Avenue that I lived in for over 25 years. AAJ:
Yeah, in the Michael Brecker biography they talked about it, and I asked Tom Malone
about it in the last interview, the loft scene that was going on in the '70s at the time, I know the Breckers were deeply involved in that. Did you get involved? I know you're a little bit later into the city than they were. JL:
I was at kind of the tail end of that loft world. It was really funny, man, because in I guess in the early '80s there was some new zoning laws and my loft was 23rd and 7th Avenue, so anything that was east of 7th Avenue and anything north of 23rd Street was not protected in this loft law, whatever it was. So, Mike Brecker and everybody, their lofts were east of 7th avenue. All those places went away. AAJ:
I got you. JL:
They all became commercial places. My loft was protected under the zoning, so I was able to sustain into the late '90s in my pad, but Dave Liebman
, Mike Brecker, and a lot of cats who had lofts east of 7th Avenue and north of 23rd Street lost their places, you know, but the early '70s, from the early '70s was the heyday of the loft scene with Mike and everybody. The late '60s and '70s, until I don't know if it was '82 or 3 or 4, somewhere around there, things changed, and more lofts were in SoHo like where Rashied Ali and those cats were, but that part of Chelsea and Midtown, some zoning laws changed and then the scene suffered. The building Mike lived in; Liebman lived there, Chick Corea, they all lived in the same building. They would be playing music. AAJ:
Yeah, you could play all night long because you didn't have neighbors that weren't musicians. Though that famous loft that Mike was in with Chick and everybody and Liebs, was legendary. I had been to that space, but those cats weren't there. Other people lived there. AAJ:
What's there now? Do you know? JL:
Those buildings are just commercial kind of spaces. They're still there, the building's still there. AAJ:
Their club was Seventh Avenue South I think, right? JL:
Seventh Avenue South was down past Bleecker Street and Houston, straight down 7th Avenue, past the Village Vanguard and Sweet Basil. I frequented that club a lot. Oh yeah, in the '70s, late '70s into the '80s. That was a lot of gravity for all kind of folks! The way the club was set up, too, the bar was on the first floor which you could just walk in and upstairs on the second floor was the music. There was some kind of music charge to go up there, but you didn't even have to go up there, you heard the music in the bar area, anyway. So, the whole building would be vibrating with all kinds of music. I played there with Lonnie and I played there with Carla Bley's band also in 1983 when I was a part of her band. AAJ:
Yeah, right on. JL:
Yeah, the 80s was a big time for me. After leaving Woody's band 1979, being in New York, started to really play with a lot of folks and started to get a lot of different gigs and opportunities. I joined The Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra
in 1980 and then Thad split and went to Copenhagen to lead the Danish radio orchestra. Bob Brookmeyer
came, but I was a part of the Mel Lewis
Jazz Orchestra until '91 when he passed and so that was like 11 years of Monday nights at the Village Vanguard, and touring. Every year we would do a week. That's when I started to play at the Village Vanguard, 1980, but then throughout the whole '80s. I joined the Paul Motian
band 1981 and Bill Frisell and I played with Paul until his passing in 2011. For 30 years Bill and I played with Paul. Toured every year and did bunches of record dates and all kinds of things. Playing with Paul also got me into the Ornette Coleman
and Charlie Haden
crowd. I joined the Charlie Haden Liberation Music Orchestra in 1986. The Carla Bley band was in '83. In '87 I joined The Elvin Jones Jazz Machine. Played with Elvin and went to Europe.
I started to record as a leader for the Soul Note
label around 1984-85 were my first records as a leader. The mid-'80s. All this time I'm playing every Monday night at the Vanguard. It was pretty magical, man. AAJ:
I can only imagine. JL:
Plus, I had my loft where I could play with drummers till midnight. So, I created all kinds of music on my own terms, you know. If you don't have a space where you can invite people over, then you're always going somewhere to play. Where I was doing that, too, but I could create my own settings and play into the early evening with rhythm sections, you know.
I met my wife Judy Silvano
, also, that was around 1981. AAJ:
That was the next question. JL:
Right when I started playing with Paul '80-81 and we started to play music together. There was a wind ensemble that I was a part of with Paul McCandless
, played oboe and English horn. He was in that band Oregon
and is one of the leading improvisers on a bass clarinet, oboe, and English horn. I was playing soprano, Billy Drewes on clarinet, Dennis Dotson
played trumpet, him and I were on Woody's band together. Ron Kozak, also from Cleveland, great woodwind player was playing flute. Kozak was a big part of the Smiling Dog scene, which we'll get back to. Michael Bocian
on guitar, a disciple of Bill DeArango
, and James Emery
, another great guitarist from Cleveland who played with Anthony Braxton, Roscoe Mitchell
, and folks. James Emery. Michael Bocian was on acoustic guitar, so it was a wind ensemble with guitar.
Paul's lady Robin was a dancer and Judy came to New York in the modern dance world as well as in in the vocal world, so she was in a dance company with Robin. So, there was a collaboration between this wind ensemble and the dancers at Paul's loft, which was down on the Bowery. He had a duplex. They lived on the first floor, the second floor was a dance studio and performance space. Big space, two thousand square foot or something. So, we would play down there and there was a collaboration between the dancers and the wind ensemble and through that is how Judy and I met. AAJ:
Oh, yeah. JL:
Yeah, she sang and danced and met some of the cats in this wind ensemble. Which I missed that gig that night because I got another paying gig, but she sang and danced and then met the musicians. Michael Bocian brought her over to the loft, and we played trio. Voice, soprano saxophone, and acoustic guitar, and we improvised together. That was the beginning of us, our music, and our relationship. AAJ:
Was it a romantic sensation? JL:
You know, we rubbed tones
Yeah, very cool. I like that! JL:
Yeah, and then, you know, we got married in '84. September 30th in '84. When my mom and dad and my family came to meet Judy's family, my dad came, and he flew. My mom, Aunt Rose, and everybody drove, so my dad came a couple days early. That weekend, Archie Shepp
was playing at the Sweet Basil, so I took my dad down to hear Archie and I brought my horn. Kenny Werner was playing piano with Archie at the time. So, this is maybe 1982 or something. I ended up sitting in and playing with Archie Shepp. My dad was there, and he met Archie. We had records with Archie and my dad had stuff like Ascension
(Impulse!, 1966), John Coltrane. Archie's on Ascension
. So, my dad was real hip to Archie Shepp and that was an amazing moment.
Then, that Monday, also, my dad sat in with the Mel Lewis band at the Village Vanguard and there's some pictures, some famous pictures in my history, in my life of my dad sitting in and he played "Body and Soul," and he played on one of Thad Jones
's charts "The Second Race," which is a blues, and it was a thrilling moment for me and for my dad to be in New York City and to sit in at the Village Vanguard.