In Shawn Lovato’s words, “We live in a creative golden age of music.” Artists today have so much at their fingertips, and this wealth of inspiration has lead to remarkably multifaceted careers. Lovato himself embodies this reality through his own winding path as a working composer and bandleader: He is an integral member of the contemporary ensemble Hotel Elefant, co-leader of the group Open Tabs, and his ‘flagship’ ensemble is Cycles of Animation, an improvising quintet drawing inspiration from free jazz, hip hop, punk, and chamber music.
Cycles of Animation released their inaugural album on Skirl Records in October 2017. The group, consisting of Lovato on bass, Oscar Noriega on alto saxophone, Brad Shepik on guitar, Santiago Leibson on piano, and Chris Carroll on drums, will visit The Jazz Gallery this Thursday, May 30. Lovato just became a father, which was the introductory topic of our recent phone conversation.
Shawn Lovato: We just had a kid a couple of months ago. It’s an exciting time! He’ll be eleven weeks old tomorrow. Man, every day is different. Having a new person with us, watching him, smiling, recognizing him, his eyesight is getting better… Watching a human grow is pretty intense.
The Jazz Gallery: That’s so cool. Anything new today?
SL: You know those baskets that hang fruit? We have a small place here in Brooklyn, and we have a hanging basket between the living room and the kitchen. I was making a smoothie, and when I grabbed some bananas I moved it. It started rocking back and forth on its chain. I looked at him, and he was just staring at it. It’s about five feet from him: The fact that he was focused on it, watching it move, that was a cool ‘first.’
TJG: [Laughs] Then did it start to mesmerize you as well?
SL: Yeah man. I had a moment yesterday. We were talking, you know, the two of us, I was making sounds, he was laughing, totally into me, trying to figure me out. It was one of those moments where I realized, “Wow, this is it, my whole being is centered around this child” [laughs]. It’s amazing, scary, wonderful.
TJG: You must be playing some music around the house for him.
SL: My wife’s been making fun of me because I haven’t played any concert music, no classical music yet, but yes. We were listening to California by Mr. Bungle the other day [laughs]. We have a record player, and I have Blues And The Abstract Truth on vinyl, one of my favorite records, so he hears that a lot. Of course, I just play for him too. I put on a solo concert for him the other day. If I play for him, he gets quiet [laughs]. I think he just likes to be engaged. I play music at him, improvise or play melodies to him, he’s into it. He’s not the greatest audience, but at least he’s there [laughs].