Enrico Rava/Fred Hersch – The Song Is You – ECM Records

by | Apr 20, 2023 | Jazz CD Reviews, SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Enrico Rava and Fred Hersch release a great jazz duet album on ECM Records.

Enrico Rava/Fred Hersch – The Song Is You – ECM Records ECM 2746 180-gram stereo vinyl, 42:45 ****1/2:

(Enrico Rava – flugelhorn; Fred Hersch – piano)

In a much anticipation collaboration, Enrico Rava and Fred Hersch have recorded The Song Is You for ECM Records (CD and vinyl). Rava has been with the label for nearly fifty years and this represents Hirsch’s debut. Recorded in Lugano, the duo cover a wide variety of covers and include some original compositions. Rava has recorded two albums of duets, collaborating with Stefano Bollani and Enrico Pieranunzi. Hersch’s output as a band leader and sideman is prodigious. This pairing is unique and refreshing. Side 1 opens with an inventive cover of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Retrato em Branco”. Exploring a different arrangement, Rava’s tender flugelhorn is complemented by Hirsch’s deft, intricate piano. The two instrumentalists flow into each other as Hersch executes subtle tempo shifts. He offers an extended, lyrical solo with both chords and notation, drawing on a variety of motifs. Rava embraces the warmth of the melody. “Improvisation” is aptly named. Rava delivers punctuated runs against Hersch’s unsettling, mysterious lines, including ominous, rumbling lower register bass. The choice of the Tommy Dorsey’s theme song “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” is interesting. Rava’s breezy lead pushes tonal boundaries and the flugelhorn possesses some of the mellower sound of a trombone. Hersch counters with syncopation that utilizes some jaunty blues. The finish has a mremorable counterpoint (with some Rava trills). The title cut is an uninhibited freer interpretation of an obscure Kern/Hammerstein II Broadway tune. Rava serpentine expression manages to embrace the melody with the support of Hirsch’s delicate touch.

Side 2 kicks off with a Hersch composition, “Child’s Song”. It begins with a beautiful swirling piano run with an underlying buoyant pulse. Rava joins in reticent harmony. He solos gracefully as Hersch adds a staccato-laden riff (with either string-plucking or damper pedal). The piano solo is silky and  gossamer with open exchanges as Rava once again stretches the instrument’s sound. “The Trail”  (written by Rava) is classically-infused. Hersch’s articulation is precise and angular. Rava enters with seamless dexterity in a complex melody. The remaining two tracks are classics from Thelonious Monk. “Misterioso” feels almost reinvented. Hersch frames the music with moody phrasing and bluesy resonance. Rava enters discreetly with great timing. There are halting moments, adding texture to the jam. The finale is a piano interpretation of the iconic, “‘Round Midnight”. Hersch’s unique approach to Monk includes trilling and an overall ruminative flow that has brief tempo bursts. It is compelling.

This vinyl of The Song Is You is inspired, ambitious jazz. Both instrumentalists bring a subtlety and improvisational gravitas toward the duet approach. The hushed acoustics in the mix (Stefano Amerio) create intimacy that fits the artistic vision of the players.  

—Robbie Gerson

Enrico Rava/Fred Hersch – The Song Is You

Side 1: Retrato em Branco e Preto; Improvisation; I’m Getting Sentimental Over You; The Song Is You
Side 2: Child’s Song; The Trial; Misterioso; ‘Round Midnight.

More information through ECM Records

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Album Cover for Enrico Rava, Fred Hersch - The Song is You

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