The Upshot: The veteran hornmen keep the tunes simmering, careful not to let them boil over.
BY MICHAEL TOLAND
When saxophonist Joe Lovano and trumpeter Dave Douglas play together, it’s not just a way of passing the time. Like its in-concert predecessor, Scandal pays tribute to the work of the great sax player Wayne Shorter, both as a bandleader and as Miles Davis’ foil in his Second Great Quintet. That’s not only because the duo’s first studio album with Sound Prints contains two Shorter tunes – “Fee Fi Fo Fum” and “Juju,” from his classic albums Speak No Evil and Juju respectively. It’s also because of the way the pair perform together, weaving lines around each other as often as playing a riff in unison, spinning a web of sticky melody – a trademark of Shorter’s work with Davis and with his own bands. The pair’s originals spin off of Shorter’s penchant for consistent swing and easy accessibility – Lovano’s “Full Sun” and Douglas’ “Mission Creep” burn with energy by being joyful rather than intense, while Douglas’ “Ups and Downs” and Lovano’s “Full Moon” stream soulful balladry without crossing over to lushness. The title track, meanwhile, feels like the dream of a private detective just as he begins his latest case, while the frisky, beboppish “The Corner Tavern” nods to an even earlier era than the sixties.
Ably supported by pianist Lawrence Fields, bassist Linda May Han Oh and drummer Joey Baron, the hornmen keep the tunes simmering, careful not to let them boil over. Though Douglas in particular has an earned reputation for pushing whatever boundaries he’s presented with, here he and Lovano play it straight, sticking to Shorter’s sixties-style vision of postbop jazz. If that sounds retro, it doesn’t come across that way. Scandal is less about copying the past than it is refreshing tradition, and in that light Lovano and Douglas hit the target.
DOWNLOAD: “Full Sun,” “Scandal,” “Ups and Downs”