Listeners whose first exposure to Joe Lovano was his Blue Note output of the 1990s might assume that Quartets (recorded at New York's famous Village Vanguard) was his first live album. But in fact, Worlds is a live recording that was made before Lovano signed with Blue Note and became a such a huge name in the jazz world. Recorded at the Amiens International Jazz Festival in France on May 5, 1989, Worlds finds the saxman leading a group that includes his wife, Judi Silvano, on vocals, Bill Frisell on guitar, Tim Hagans on trumpet, Gary Valente on trombone, Henri Texier on bass, and Paul Motian on drums. Lovano excels on the tenor and soprano saxes as well as the obscure alto clarinet, and Silvano's adventurous improvisations demonstrate that she was already quite distinctive in 1989; nor are Frisell's meaty solos anything to complain about. Nonetheless, this is hardly a performance that goes out of its way to be accessible -- classical-influenced post-bop pieces like "Tafabalewa Square," "Spirit of the Night," and "Round Dance" are as angular as they are cerebral and abstract. But if the listener is willing to accept this uncompromising, challenging CD on its own terms, the rewards are abundant.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson