How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
With Live at Birdland Neuberg (Germany) the “Michael Flugel Quartet” receives some predictably superb support from the highly regarded trumpeter Enrico Rava. On “My Funny Valentine” Rava demonstrates how to turn a time honored classic into a vehicle for the optimum in artistic expressionism as he stretches the inherent scope of this classic via fiery and altogether emotional lines. Here, Rava alternates between sublime phrasing and bold tenacity. Throughout, these young and seemingly ambitious jazz musicians display fluid chops, especially when pianist Michael Flugel counters the soloists with delicate thematic invention and richly melodic underpinnings or when comping behind Rava and alto saxophonist Frank Lauber. The solid rhythm section consisting of bassist Dietmar Fuhr, drummer and “NAXOS Jazz” solo artist Dejan Terzic provide ample support yet it’s fairly evident that Rava is the prime soloist here.
Although the band is young and it shows on Sonny Rollins’ “East Broadway Rundown” where alto saxophonist Frank Lauber seems a bit tentative during an extended solo flight, the men perform with enthusiasm as they must have been thrilled to share the stage with Mr. Rava. - - The band stirs up some excitement with a slick and creative take on the standard, “You Don’t Know What Love Is” as the musicians inject a smooth and quite affable reggae/dub motif while Rava and Lauber trade some spirited fours! Basically, Live at Birdland Neuberg is a relatively upbeat exhibition yet Enrico Rava heightens the intensity and impact on more than a few occasions.
* * * (out of * * * * *)
Michael Flugel; Piano: Frank Lauber; Alto Saxophone: Dietmar Fuhr; Double Bass: Dejan Terzic; Drums: Enrico Rava; Trumpet
Track listing: 1) Diva 2) My Funny Valentine 3) You Don