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JAZZ NOTES : Lovano, New Quintet to Debut at Bakery : 'I've never heard a band that sounds like this, and that makes it really exciting and fresh,' the veteran saxman says.

March 20, 1995|ZAN STEWART | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Expressive reedman-composer Joe Lovano is not one to stay in one musical spot, and for his three-night engagement at the Jazz Bakery in Culver City that begins Thursday, he makes the L.A. debut with his quintet Symbiosis.

The band is an outgrowth of his Universal Language ensemble and features Lovano on sax, clarinet and flute; his wife, Judy Silvano, on vocals; cellist Eric Friedlander; bassist Ed Schuller and drummer Bob Meyer.

"I've never heard a band that sounds like this, and that makes it really exciting and fresh," Lovano said. "There's an open sound, with voice and cello offering linear passages that surrounded the trio of reeds, bass and drums."

The quintet will mix it up, Lovano said, by offering a blend of woodwinds, strings, voice and percussion applied to "music from different cultures, American pop songbook, different flavors of folk music and modern jazz."

The idea for the group came together last spring when Lovano was recording the now-critically acclaimed "Rush Hour" CD, where he plays in an orchestral format, with arrangements by Gunther Schuller, the father of Symbiosis' bassist.

"I wanted a band that could play that music live," Lovano said. "It's been an ear-opening experience." The repertoire includes everything from classics ("Prelude to a Kiss" and "Crepiscule With Nellie") to originals ("Topsy Turvy" and "Juniper's Berries").

Information: (310) 271-9039.

Bud on Tap: Pianist Claude Williamson was a devotee of the late Teddy Wilson until the autumn of 1945, when he went to New York from Boston, where he was studying at the New England Conservatory of Music and heard Bud Powell at the Famous Door nightclub on 52nd Street.

"Bud was playing in a band with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Max Roach and I was really struck by him," Williamson says. "He had a whole different way of playing than I knew, with long, beautiful extended lines in his right hand and just comping in his left. He played five, six, seven chorus, each one better than the one before. And it wasn't just runs and fills. The guy was playing beautiful stuff."

Powell became Williamson's chief influence, and remains so. "I can't get away from my roots," he says. Coming out of semi-retirement--he played in various situations for TV soundtracks and shows from the mid-'60s through the '80s--Williamson delivers the music of the jazz master as well as Jerome Kern on Wednesday at the Jazz Bakery.

He'll offer such Powell classics as "Bouncing With Bud" and "Hallucinations" as well as arcane numbers like "John's Abbey" and "Blue Pearl," all of which will be collected on a forthcoming CD to be issued on VSOP Records in May.

The Powell recording, preceded by a tour of Japan last year, has convinced Williamson to return to full-time playing.

"I'm jump-starting my career at age 68, practicing three hours a day," says Williamson, who worked with the former Lighthouse All-Stars from 1953-56. "I'm serious about it this time."

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