Joe Lovano is an American jazz saxophonist, composer, and educator, born on December 29, 1952, in Cleveland, Ohio. He was exposed to music at a young age by his father, Tony “Big T” Lovano, a tenor saxophonist and bandleader. Lovano started playing the alto saxophone at the age of six and later switched to the tenor saxophone, which became his primary instrument.
Lovano attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he studied with saxophonist Gary Burton and pianist Richie Beirach. After graduating in 1972, he worked with organist Jack McDuff and then joined the Woody Herman Orchestra in 1976, where he played alongside other young jazz musicians such as Bob Mintzer and Randy Brecker.
In the early 1980s, Lovano began recording as a leader, releasing albums on various labels such as Soul Note and Blue Note. He also became a sought-after sideman, playing with musicians such as guitarist John Scofield, drummer Paul Motian, and pianist Bill Frisell.
Lovano’s style is characterized by a lyrical and expressive approach, drawing from various influences such as bebop, free jazz, and world music. He has been praised for his unique sound, technical proficiency, and improvisational skills.
In addition to his career as a performer, Lovano has also been a dedicated educator, teaching at the Berklee College of Music and the Manhattan School of Music, among others. He has also conducted workshops and masterclasses around the world.
Lovano has received numerous awards and accolades throughout his career, including multiple Grammy nominations and wins. He was named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master in 2022, one of the highest honors in jazz.
Today, Lovano continues to perform and record as a leader and sideman, collaborating with a diverse range of musicians and exploring new directions in jazz.
Page last updated 3/26/2023.