Joe Lovano and Mike Stern in Concert Two artists in prime musical condition, in terms of both careers and chops, play outdoors and back to back at the J&R Music Festival in New York. This program is dedicated to Lovano's longtime friend and bandmate, Dennis Irwin, who died earlier this year.

Joe Lovano and Mike Stern in Concert

Joe Lovano and Mike Stern in Concert

Set Lists

Mike Stern Quartet

"Tumble Home" (Stern)

"Slow Change" (Stern)

Joe Lovano Quartet

"Birds Eye View" (Lovano)

"Move" (Denzel Best)

"Viva Caruso" (Lovano)

Stern's Band

Mike Stern: guitar

Bob Fraceschini: tenor sax

Janek Wizdala: bass

Richie Morales: drums

Lovano's Band

Joe Lovano: tenor

James Weidman: piano

Dennis Irwin: bass

Lewis Nash: drums

The late Dennis Irwin practices in a hotel room. Bill Klewitz hide caption

toggle caption
Bill Klewitz

Joe Lovano and Mike Stern. Tom LeGoff, Markoen Flos hide caption

toggle caption
Tom LeGoff, Markoen Flos

Guitarist Mike Stern has played sideman to both Miles Davis and Michael Brecker, and last summer was the special invited guest for six consecutive nights with groups of his choice at the Montreal International Jazz Festival. On the other hand, drop in at the 55 Bar in Greenwich Village and you might see him up close, playing for a dozen people. Outdoors at the 2006 J&R Music Festival in New York City, Stern plays music from his CD, Who Let the Cats Out?

After Stern comes Joe Lovano, one of today's great tenor saxophonists, but our focus is on his longtime bassist. The late Dennis Irwin was a dedicated musician, a salt-of-the-earth guy, a great quiet humorist, and also — this isn't widely known — excellent on the clarinet. Early on, he worked in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra. Eventually, he calculated that (over countless club dates, concerts, albums, and tours) he traveled a million miles as a musician, in bands led by bluesman Mose Allison, guitarist John Scofield, Brazilian pianist Dom Salvador, and Matt Wilson's Arts & Crafts. Weekly at Birdland in New York, Irwin played with David Berger & The Sultans of Swing with vocalist Aria Hendricks. Irwin died of cancer on March 10, 2008.

But on August 26, 2006, Irwin was doing what he did almost every day for 35 years. Cars honk, buses screech, and the wind threatens to blow it all away, but there's no tamping down Irwin with Lovano and the Mike Stern Quartet, outdoors in City Hall Park, on JazzSet.