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REVIEW | Joe Lovano Trio Tapestry, Our Daily Bread. ECM Records, 2023.

By Jeff Cebulski

Joe Lovano Trio Tapestry, Our Daily Bread. ECM Records, 2023.

By Jeff Cebulski | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Being a dean of the jazz saxophone and a highly respected artist has its advantages, one being the ability to control the context of performances. Thus is the case with Joe Lovano, who has furthered his career during the past 30 years by recording with several ensembles representing the gamut of modern jazz.

Lately, besides his acclaimed pairing with trumpeter Dave Douglas in the quintet Sound Prints, Lovano has crafted a singular trio for ECM, Trio Tapestry. The group, including pianist Marilyn Crispell and percussionist Carmen Castaldi, presents an airy ambiance suited for that label’s kind of production, where producer Manfred Eicher gives plenty of breathing room to his artists.

The trio seems to be a respite for three longtime musical friends, especially Lovano and Castaldi, who grew up on jazz together in Cleveland. Crispell, from Philadelphia, has evolved to replacing note density with freer space. Each player’s discography is full of aggressive postmodern compositions, but here their approach is similar to seeking a sonic communal retreat; listening to them play on record or live, it becomes clear these people trust each other implicitly. Lovano leads, the others respond, ultimately leading to a deeper melding of souls.

Three albums have been recorded by this trio, the latest Our Daily Bread, a meditative collection of songs that communicate spiritual or metaphysical themes (what Lovano calls “the mysterious world of music”), something that their second album Garden of Expression began. The song titles in the new production include “Grace Notes,” “Our Daily Bread,” “The Power of Three,” “Rhythm Spirit,” and “Crystal Ball.”

The opener, “All Twelve,” is a good example of the trio’s approach. Crispell and Lovano are, really, playing a duet, while Castaldi is in the background, producing subtle fills that create a juxtaposed texture.

“Grace Notes” starts with Lovano’s gong, lending a Near Eastern tone to the proceedings. The result is a tone poem involving Crispell’s Tyneresque left hand drone supplanting a lovely right-handed commentary while Castaldi shadows on cymbals. Lovano adds his own lyrical expression before Castaldi emerges at the end with a restless run that typifies the album’s moments of subtle rhythmic tension.

The hymn-like “Our Daily Bread” adorns the record with a relaxed Coltrane-ish solo from Lovano, who can represent whenever he chooses (check out “Sculpture” on Universal Language). Crispell provides the gospel chords and Castaldi the dramatic mallets.

Joe has been in a state of “remembering” lately, being an integral part of ECM’s tribute to mentor and jazz instigator Paul Motion, Once Around the Room, with guitarist Jacob Bro. On Our Daily Bread he includes a poignant yet swaggering solo, “One for Charlie,” a tribute to the late great bassist and collaborator Charlie Haden. (Haden would have been an excellent addition had he been around.)

“The Power of Three” is perhaps the most indicative of the group’s improvisatory merits. All three hold sway at the start, with Castaldi presenting his most aggressive presence, even getting a very brief solo moment. The sax/drum duet “Rhythm Spirit” gets a gong blessing and another ambient intro from Lovano before the drummer casually begins a progressively rhythmic, though appropriately understated, run that moves the saxophonist out of his meditative daze and into something more post-bop.

“Crystal Ball” brings the three back together, with Lovano and Crispell delivering another balladic duet while the restless Castaldi remains in the background, keeping the blood flowing.

On Our Daily Bread Joe Lovano’s lyrical style carries the day, and could stand on its own if needed. Within a trio format with these two accomplished players, his willingness to blend and share becomes more pronounced, leading to a collection that satisfies more and more with each listening. This may be late night fare for many, but be sure to be ready to pay attention: the experts, joining forces, are communicating through the mystery of music.

Joe Lovano Trio Tapestry, Our Daily Bread. ECM Records, 2023.

Purchase AMAZON


Joe Lovano, tenor saxophone, terogato, gongs

Marilyn Crispell, piano

Carmen castaldi, drums

About Jeff Cebulski

Jeff Cebulski, who lives in Chicago, is a retired English educator (both secondary and collegiate) and longtime jazz aficionado. His career in jazz includes radio programs at two stations in southeast Wisconsin, an online show on Kennesaw State’s (GA) Owl Radio from 2007 until 2015, and review/feature writing for Chicago Jazz Magazine since 2016, including his column "Jazz With Mr. C". He has interviewed many jazz artists, including Joshua Redman, Charles Lloyd, Dave Holland, John Beasley, and Chris Brubeck, as well as several Chicago-based players. Jeff is a member of the Jazz Journalists Association. Contact Jeff at


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