Since the late 1980s, Joe Lovano has been one of the world's premiere tenor saxophone players. He’s worked with such artists as Jack McDuff, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Woody Herman, Mel Lewis, John Scofield, Paul Motian, Bill Frisell, Bill DeArango, Dave Liebman, Michael Brecker, Ravi Coltrane and McCoy Tyner. His current ensemble, Us Five, consists of Lovano, simultaneous drummers Francisco Mela and Otis Brown III, pianist James Weidman, either Esperanza Spalding or Pete Slavov on bass and occasionally guitarist Lionel Loueke.
Peter Margasak of the Chicago Reader writes, “The saxophonist Joe Lovano has regularly spoken of his malleable quintet Us Five as a band that's capable of doing and playing anything, and on the group's brand-new Cross Culture (Blue Note), its third album, that's never seemed more apparent. The group tackles the Ellington/Strayhorn classic "Star Crossed Lovers," but the other ten pieces are all Lovano originals—some of which he's recorded previously in other contexts—yet they all feel more like superflexible settings or structures than rigid compositions, allowing the players great internal latitude.”
Joe Lovano and US5 close out the second day of the Festival, performing at 9pm Friday, July 4th.