Joe Lovano’s Bird Songs is not a replication of Charlie Parker’s playing style. Rather, Joe Lovano’s Us Five group (Joe Lovano, Saxophones; Otis Brown III & Fransico Mela, Drums; the Grammy’s “New Artist of the Year” Esperanza Spalding on Bass; while James Weidman takes care of the piano duties) take a modern approach to Bird’s legendary music.
On the album Lovano puts a personal touch on classic Bird tunes like Passport, Donna Lee, Ko Ko, and Yardbirds to name a few, as Lovano blows a much softer and calmer tenor compared to the speedy and fiery alto sax Parker made such good use out of. The solos on Bird Songs are strected out (due to 60+ years of recording technology improvements) compared to the shorter solos one would hear on a traditional Bebop album. Lovano’s distinct timbre on his tenor and clean playing style set him apart from the fiery speedster Bird was giving the album a modern feel. Lovano and his group add a calmer, more modern, stretched out version of Charlie Parker’s music.
Even though Lovano puts his own feel to Parker’s music, one never loses sight of who this album is a tribute too. Bird Songs is Joe Lovano’s own interpretation of Bird’s music and influence making it much more than an album full of Charlie Parker covers. It is a modern and unique approach to Bird’s music coupled with the masterful playing of Joe Lovano.