Shawn Lovato, Cycles of Animation [Album Review, 10/6/2017]

At first sighting “Cycles of Animations,” the debut album by bassist/composer Shawn Lovato caught my attention through the idea and concept embedded in the title of this recording. Meanwhile, as usual, I pause momentarily but curiosity beckoned my thirsty soul to the possibilities of what’s ahead.

From the outset, the first of eight compositions Lovato’s evocative voice groans within the chasm of “Loose Noodle.” As composer and instrumentalist Lovato unveils varied strands of improvisation tones layered in the complexity of abstract octaves inscribed with ardent detail and volume explored as his flexible signature thrusts forward.

Joining Lovato on this project is a tremendous cast of collaborators featuring: Loren Stillman (alto sax), Brad Shepik (guitar), Santiago Leibson (piano), and Chris Carroll (drums) channels their creative minds and energy are exalted on the canvas of “Cycles of Animations.”

Compositionally his imaginative are evenly stitched through his creative voice with bold precision on “Static Phases Illuminated.” With that said, the transparency of his vision is vividly exposed on the first two tracks. As a result, it appears “Cycles of Animations” may not be for anyone who’s intimidated by the density of elements occupied in the body of improvised music.

Woven in the tapestry of this Brooklyn native the narrative of his palette continues to resonate with “Animated Cycle I Sow Harvest,” this fruitful endeavor translates into the melodically yet sensitive side of his transcending voice is truly a treasure which illuminates flawlessly.

On the next piece, Lovato draws from the well of traditional jazz on a tune aptly titled “Brain Drain.” The irony here, this gem swells with relentless energy underscored by timeless yet unexpected phrasings glow throughout. At the fifth position, “Animated Cycle II Inhale Exhale” appears and embellishes his proactive synergy as a composer is enriched by lightly accented and darkly shaded nuances unleash his fearless voice on this amazing jewel.

With gems like “7th Street Jig,” on hand, it’s difficult to miss the mark for players and composers. This vibrant ensemble’s engaging interplay is unyielding and truly faultless. With last of the trilogy “Animated Cycle III Labor Rest,” Lovato and friends change the tempo with a sobering yet melodic improvised language that expands the parameters of this marvelous ecosystem of contemporary compositions is undoubtedly a worthy collection of songs to embrace.

From the imaginative mind, spirit, and soul of Shawn Lovato, he leaves us with a lengthy gem titled “Unplugged Slug.” Throughout this lyrically tasteful collective, Lovato’s compositional vision renders from an array of musical influences during his fertile years as a musician with underground music, hip-hop, metal and get this punk rock. What I’ve discovered in the fabric of “Cycles of Animations,” Lovato mythically blends these thriving elements together into a myriad of contrasting voicings, improvise harmonies and conceptualize abstract rhythms are sculpted into one tangible language called jazz.

Reviewed by Rob Young | Altered Impressions

Expected Release: 10/20/17

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