A joy ride with Enrico Rava…
Enrico Rava – Edizione Speciale – ECM 2672 387 1873 – 64:24 – 2019 live recording – ****
(Enrico Rava – flugelhorn; Francesco Bearzatti – tenor sax; Francesco Diodati – guitar; Giovanni Guidi – piano; Gabriele Evangelista – double bass; Enrico Morello – drums)
Perhaps the most famous Italian jazz musician (and certainly the most well known trumpeter from that country). Enrico Rava, is still going strong as an octogenarian wonder. Born in Trieste, Italy, in 1939, Rava played traditional jazz early on, before becoming enraptured with new musical possibilities after hearing Miles Davis. He switched from trombone to trumpet, and helped bring Italian jazz to the forefront of the continental jazz community. He has recorded over 30 albums as a leader, and has been a long time ECM contributor. To say that Enrico has crossed musical paths with the complete wide gamut of musicians is a true understatement. Take a gander at this roster of Rava compadres: Chet Baker, Steve Lacy, Roswell Rudd, Cecil Taylor, Charlie Haden, Lee Konitz, Gato Barbieri, and hundreds more.. Of possibly greater interest, Enrico has recorded tributes to Bix Beiderbecke, Louis Armstrong, and Chet Baker, as well as opera arias (!), and a more recent tribute to Michael Jackson.
In the summer of 2019, ECM was celebrating their 50th anniversary as a label, while Enrico Rava was turning 80 years old- both milestones. ECM is now releasing live recordings from Rava’s expanded sextet’s gig at the Antwerp Jazz Middelheim Festival in August, 2019. The acoustics are sharp, and the audience is adoring. The six tracks feature some material from prior recordings: Enrico Rava Quartet (1978) and the more current Wild Dance (2015). Rava’s well honed quartet expands by two to include pianist, Giovanni Guidi, as well as tenor saxist, Francesco Bearzatti.
This live recording highlights Rava’s embrace of avant expressions, while retaining his more traditional jazz training. His jazz “world” encompasses wider venues including South America, Brazil, Europe, and Cuba. The one constant is full attention to a song’s melody, even when “painting outside the lines.”
As expected these six tracks cover a lot of ground. Enrico, on flugelhorn only, leads the way, much like a master teacher taking charge, but also taking joy in his proteges spreading their wings with his full approval.
The opening track, “Infant,” burns with vitality. Saxophonist, Bearzatti, locks in with Rava, while guitarist, Diodati, and pianist, Guidi, expand the soundscape with vibrant contributions. Next comes an intermingling of Michel LeGrand’s “Once Upon a Summertime.” with Rava’s own, “Theme for Jessica Tatum.” It begins as a ballad, before opening up towards a film soundtrack moody noir vibe. Appropriately, the “Tatum” composition was featured on an earlier Noir collection of Enrico compositions.
“Wild Dance” from Rava’s Quartet 2015 issue, has his horn mixing with a wild electric guitar distortion. Enrico fully embraces the challenge and freedom of entering uncharted territory. “The Fearless Five” is another adventure of the roller coaster ride that Rava provides. It’s themes go from early New Orleans towards 60s and 70s free form.
“Le Solite Cose/Diva” brings us back to a more moody noir feel again, while the closer, “Quizas, Quizas, Quizas” (Maybe, Maybe, Maybe) is a joyous Cuban inflected party tune, and each member gets solo time.
Enrico Rava is an Italian treasure, now shared with the world. His joy in expanding our jazz palette, should not be missed.
Once Upon a Summertime/ Theme for Jessica Tatum
The Fearless Five
Le Solite Cose/Diva
Quizas, Quizas, Quizas
For more information, please visit the ECM website: