REVIEW: Joe Lovano, Judy Silvano delight Elk Creek jazz fans

From standards to free jazz, Joe Lovano and Judi Silvano covered it all recently at the Elk Creek Cafe and Aleworks, much to the delight of local jazz fans.

Bassist Tony Marino, drummer Phil Haynes and guitarist Michael Bocian joined saxophonist Lovano and vocalist Silvano. Together, they created a powerful combo that was not afraid to experiment and let solos take songs far away from where they began.

This sentiment was evident from the first song in the set, Lovano’s original composition “Fort Worth.” The tune seemed to go from free jazz to more traditional bop and back again before the end.

The remainder the band’s two sets included Silvano’s original “Dust,” Bocian’s original “Cherry” and standards such as Duke Ellington’s “Mood Indigo.” The Elk Creek Cafe’s small, intimate atmosphere seemed to fuel the players; it also provided a surprise for Lovano as they approached Millheim for the first time.

“We took a left, a right and another left, and came down a big hill and there we were almost out of nowhere,” Lovano quipped from stage while talking about the drive into town.

In addition to their musical partnership, Lovano and Silvano have shared a personal relationship since meeting in New York in 1980. Their connection was evident during several songs when her scat singing matched his playing almost exactly.

While Lovano and Silvano were billed as headliners, each musician had a chance to shine, particularly during the second set, which began with trios of various combinations. Silvano said in a recent interview that she and Lovano have known Bocian, Marino and Haynes for years; that camaraderie and musical comfort definitely came across in their playing that night.

Marino particularly stood out with a classically tinged extended solo during Ornette Coleman’s “Lonely Woman.” He played the bass with a bow and, for a few moments, made it sound more like a classical instrument than one used in jazz. Lovano was also strong in this piece, channeling Coleman throughout.

Following the trios, the full band came back on stage to end the three hour performance as the clock neared midnight. By all accounts, the evening was a great way to round out 2011.

Jenna Spinelle can be reached at cdtweekender@centredaily.com.