Masterful Jazz Astronauts Launch 2019 Season at the Ford

The Spring Quartet

by A. Scott Galloway

Improvisational in nature, jazz has always been a performance-based music. It is never played the same way twice. It is an event. This is never truer than when the players gathered are all distinguished. 

On Saturday, April 27, jazz super group The Spring Quartet will kick off the Ford Theatres 2019 Season. This quartet consists of drummer Jack DeJohnette (an NEA Jazz Master whose five decade-career includes leading many iconic ensembles as well as working with Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett and Pat Metheny, to name but a few), saxophonist Joe Lovano (whose resume stretches from organ greats Lonnie Smith and Jack McDuff to the big bands of Woody Herman and Mel Lewis to his own 25 and counting recordings as a leader on Blue Note Records), bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding (a 4x GRAMMY®-winner including being the first jazz musician to win Best New Artist), and pianist/keyboardist Leo Genovese (a native of Argentina, a Berklee College of Music graduate who has been touring and recording with Spalding since 2005).

The origin of this ensemble stems from a creative workshop that took place in spring of 2014 in Upstate New York in the homes of DeJohnette and Lovano. After incubating a sound approach, the quartet embarked upon tours of the US and Europe, leaving audiences spellbound. Stunningly, this band has yet to release a recording of their works which should instigate urgency to experience this collective live.

“We’re all strong personalities as players,” says DeJohnette. “Everybody brings music to the table, and then we co-write more together. Esperanza plays double bass and sings on some pieces; Joe plays a variety of wind instruments, flute, soprano and tenor sax; and Leo plays piano, synthesizer, and a Fender Rhodes. Each of the pieces has an identity and vibe. When we go into them, we’re open to where they lead us…cooperatively setting up a road map as we go along. Each member brings a vibrant musical identity which allows us to challenge the music and to challenge each other.”

The music is fluid in its movement and composition. It is the music of highly capable players yet warm and inviting. Texturally, the quartet covers a lot of ground in its approach to melody and harmony that mix the traditional with the contemporary. 

“I set up a satellite ground base that we can take off from and the pieces create an atmosphere,” DeJohnette concludes. “We all get a chance to expand creatively playing with each other. That’s how the music grows and stretches. We’ll be playing some of the past material and each one of us [will bring] new pieces to the repertoire. This is a reunion of The Spring Quartet, so we’re familiar with each other. Perhaps we will get around to recording an album…but that’s not what we’re pushing for. We just enjoy playing together…and we have a lot of fun.”

This evening promises to be cutting edge, invigorating, and dynamic, with detours into spaces unknown, sweet surprises, and interludes of heart-melting romance and beauty. Jack DeJohnette, Esperanza Spalding, Joe Lovano and Leo Genovese – masters all – will whisk us into a universe of musical adventure.

 

The Spring Quartet: Jack DeJohnette, Joe Lovano, Esperanza Spalding and Leo Genovese will take place at the Ford Theatres on Saturday, April 27 at 8:00 PM. Go here for tickets and information.