Recorded live at the Village Vanguard, On This Day...At the Vanguard is saxophonist Joe Lovano's first recording with his award-winning nonet since the release of 52nd Street Themes in 2000. Having recorded in a variety of settings ranging from those of big-band leaders Woody Herman and Mel Lewis to duets with Mulgrew Miller on Tenor Legacy to quartets featuring such stellar artists as Dave Holland, John Scofield, and Al Foster (collectively known as Scolohofo), Joe Lovano proves with this CD that his artistry remains highly adaptable to any musical setting. Opening the program with the first of two originals written for this recording is Lovano's swinging "At the Vanguard." It has a harmonic sequence based on "Stompin' at the Savoy," and features outstanding solos by Lovano, alto saxophonist Steve Slagle, trumpeter Barry Ries, and pianist John Hicks. "Focus" and John Coltrane's "After the Rain" offer listeners two exceptional contrasts of Lovano's playing style, while "On This Day Just Like Any Other" is a 15-minute free jazz offering with amazing improvisations that Lovano wrote around the time drummer Billy Higgins passed away. The recording closes with "My Little Brown Book," a beautiful, serene ballad that returns the music to the quartet sound and served as the show's encore. Overall, On This Day...At the Vanguard captures the essence of Lovano's reverence and enthusiasm for the jazz venue that has supplied a great deal of his musical inspiration over the course of his jazz career.
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AllMusic Review by Paula Edelstein