Enrico Rava: La Dolce Vita & Full of Life
The opening piece, Rava's "Recuerdos, illustrates a facet of all band formats lacking harmony instrumentation (e.g., piano, guitar): the absolute requirement for competent arrangements. Rava and Girotto follow one another through the head arrangement in a way reminiscent of Miles Davis and John Coltrane on Gil Evans' seminal quintet arrangement of "'Round Midnight. The relationship of brass to reeds is one of counterpoint, each instrument touching the other at precise harmonic times. If this sounds oddly familiar, it should. Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker made a cottage industry of the method 50 years previous. It was no mistake then that Mulligan was one of the finest arrangers working. He had to be to pull off what he did with his pianoless quartet. Now as then, the combo effect is one of careful craftsmanship, a delicate crochet of notes seemingly held together by nothing.
Rava continues the recital with an arresting take on the Rodgers and Hammerstein chestnut "The Surrey with the Fringe on Top. The listener cannot help but think of Miles Davis' performance during his marathon 1956 Prestige sessions with his first great quintet before moving to Columbia. Rava's tone is too close; however, is approach is not. Rava drops notes, adds notes, until by the end of the head it is apparent what the song is. Girotto provides a bouncy baritone behind Rava and when the two trade solo places, Rava does the same. "Moonlight in Vermont gets much the same treatment, a beautiful ballad played beautifully.
Of the originals, Rava's "Visions proves most compelling with the introductory baritone figure building the foundation for a swinging conversation between brass and reeds. The rhythm section suspends the soloists without tethering their individual explorations. In fact, that may describe the approach to the entire recording and why it works as well as it does.
Read another review of Tommaso-Rava Quartet's La Dolce Vita.
Tracks and Personnel
La Dolce Vita
Tracks: Profumo Di Donna; Mondo Cane; Cinema Moderno; Ammazzare Il Tempo; Il Sogno Di Hitchcock; La Dolce Vita; Il Postino; L' Avventura; Il Prato; La Prima Volta; Cronaca Familiare.
Personnel: Enrico Rava: Trumpet & Flugelhorn; Stefano Bollani: Piano; Giovanni Tommaso: Contrabass; Roberto Gatto: Drums.
Full of Life
Tracks: Recuerdos; The Surrey With The Fringe On Top; Mystère; Miss Mg; Moonlight In Vermont; Boston April 15th; Happiness Is To Win A Big Prize In Cash; Nature Boy; Full Of Life; Visions; Miss Mg (Alternative Take).
Personnel: Enrico Rava: Trumpet, Flugelhorn; Javier Girotto: Baritone, Soprano Sax; Ares Tavolazzi: Double Bass; Fabrizio Sferra: Drums.