Tue, Jan 22, 2013 - Page 12 News List

CD reviews

FADE, by Yo La Tengo; MIGRATIONS, by Cristina Pato; CROSS CULTURE, by Joe Lovano Us Five

By Jon Pareles, Nate Chinen, Ben Ratliff  /  NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE

She also knows, perhaps through her experience in Yo-Yo Ma’s (馬友友) Silk Road Ensemble, that authenticity and adaptability can be compatible under the right conditions. Migrations, with its suggestion of an itinerant and even mongrelized cultural legacy, sets the stage nicely for her: It’s an album suffused with awareness of tradition but breezy about its debts.

The history of the gaita stretches back centuries, into a shrouded antiquity; its popular resurgence in recent years is less mysterious, involving the pageantry of Galician pipe bands and the easy flair of players like Carlos Nunez. As if to offer a dose of reassurance, Pato includes a few folkloric themes here, stacking them near the album’s close.

But she opens with Muineira for Cristina, an original take on a traditional form, by the Galician accordionist Victor Prieto. It features a sparkling guest turn by the Colombian harpist Edmar Castaneda, and assertive rhythmic work by Pato’s core band, with Prieto, the bassist Edward Perez, the drummer Eric Doob and the percussionist John Hadfield.

Pato is a dynamic improviser, not afraid to use the shrill keen of her instrument as an expressive tool. She has the added benefit of some smart arrangements — by Solla, an Argentine pianist known for blending jazz and tango — that embrace a kind of world-music utopianism, stirring in tabla, bouzouki and cello. She puts herself forward as an ambassador of this ideal, especially on Solla’s Gaitango (A Cristina Pato), which has her playing gaita and piano, and her own Rosina, featuring flute and vocals.

Her breathy singing, on Rosina as on the bossa nova standard Dindi, is nothing special. But any trace of vulnerability is welcome, on an album that otherwise makes little accommodation for it.

— Nate Chinen, NY Times News Service

CROSS CULTURE, Joe Lovano Us Five,Blue Note

Most jazz musicians are flexible: it’s a philosophical requirement of the job. At 60, Joe Lovano is an extreme case, moving toward universality.

Long ago he developed a tenor saxophone sound for his temperament. It rolls and smears and smokes, all width, rhythmic unto itself; it can fit in or accommodate. His starting place is bebop’s complex language, but he seems to be listening to something underneath language and style. He’s good with a particular rhythm, or a structure, or a set of changes, but he doesn’t need any of it. And so an ideal Joe Lovano performance might be one that sounds good with New York’s advanced-harmony killer-elite, but that could be effectively cut and pasted over a trap beat, or a string quartet, or scale exercises, or traffic sounds.

More recently, he’s developed a working band for that temperament, Us Five. The band has two drummers, which creates a broad area around the beat. They’ll play tight or loose, without cymbals or with only cymbals. Lovano keeps changing horns, from the tenor to the clarinetlike tarogato and the double-soprano aulochrome; other musicians pick up percussion instruments here and there. Anything can happen, sort of.

And Lovano’s third album with Us Five, Cross Culture, with the drummers Francisco Mela and Otis Brown III, as well as the pianist James Weidman, the bassist Esperanza Spalding and the guitarist Lionel Loueke in an intermittent, undefined role, can sometimes sound like a jam session based on scraps. In fact most of these pieces are more composed than they seem; several have appeared in different arrangements on earlier Lovano records. But overall the feel is organic and basic, intense and casual.

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