But something--maybe age (Sanders is 80 and Lovano, 68), maybe the pandemic (though both remain healthy and creative), or maybe their spiritualism (both have embraced Eastern religions)--has changed the type of jazz each of them is now making. It isn't exactly cool jazz or smooth jazz, although it is much mellower and gentler than their earlier playing, but instead in its inventive way more ethereal and haunting.
Sanders's most recent album is entitled "Promises" where he plays along with Sam Shepherd, a British electronic keyboardist, who records as Floating Points, and the London Symphony Orchestra. The single musical composition in nine movements was written by Shepherd and has been described as ambient sound, dreamlike, and abstract psychedelia. Whatever it is, I probably won't be dancing to it, but I do enjoy listening to it.
The only time I saw Sanders was at the Village Vanguard sometime around 1970, after he had proved himself the new wunderkind with the fabulous bands of Alabama's own Sun Ra and then with John Coltrane. He did things with that horn I have never heard or seen since, overblowing and multiphonic stuff, holding his hand over the bell, impossibly passing airflow both up and down the body at the same time, and somehow seeming to play two distinct notes at once.
Joe Lovano is not as storied, but definitely one of today's great tenor titans. His fast, brash, loud playing has gained him a devoted following among fellow musicians and jazz aficionados alike. But his last two albums with pianist Marilyn Crispell and percussionist Carmen Castaldi, aka the Trio Tapestry, are made of subtler stuff. The latest, "Garden of Expression," includes eight lovely Lovano compositions. All lyrical and tender, all sounding like the name of the album's last tune: "Zen Like." Take a listen to this cut from the group's first album, "Trio Tapestry."