Joe Lovano was honored as a Stamps Distinguished Visitor during the 2004-2005 season at the University of Miami Frost School of Music for his great contributions to the jazz world.
was taught to play alto sax as a child by his father, Tony “Big T” Lovano, a respected Cleveland, Ohio saxophonist. In his youth, he was frequently exposed to jazz artists traveling through town such as Sonny Stitt, James Moody, and Dizzy Gillespie. Although steeped in bebop, Lovano developed an interest in the jazz experimentalism of the 1960s, and later moved to Boston where he attended the Berklee School of Music and began playing with such future collaborators as John Scofield, Bill Frisell, and Kenny Werner. He had been searching for a way to incorporate the fire and spirituality of late-period John Coltrane into more traditional settings when he discovered modal harmony, which would play a major influence in Lovano’s future career. Later, in 1994, Lovano was given the “Distinguished Alumni Award” from Berklee and was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1998.
Lovano’s first professional job brought him to New York for a recording debut that segued into a three-year tour with the Woody Herman Thundering Herd from 1976-1979, culminating in “The 40th Anniversary Concert” at Carnegie Hall. He also played with drummer Mel Lewis’ orchestra from 1980 -1992.
The first high-profile gig that brought him national attention was with guitarist John Scofield’s Quartet, with whom he toured and recorded for three years. He gained further exposure, particularly in Europe, through his work with the trailblazing Paul Motian Trio, which also featured former Berklee classmate, guitarist Bill Frisell.
Lovano has numerous Grammy nominations and awards to his credit. In 2001, he was the Down Beat Critic’s Poll Winner for “Musician of the Year,” and the Jazz Journalists Association Critic’s Choice Awards Winner, both for “Musician of the Year” and “Jazz Album of the Year” (52nd Street Themes). He received Grammy nominations in 2000, 1997, 1995, and 1994.