Ada Rovatti: The Green Factor (2009)
Italian-born Ada Rovatti possesses talent as both an ensemble player and a bandleader. Versed in several styles of music, the saxophonist brings an eclectic blend of Irish, Celtic, jazz, and a few other flavors to The Green Factor.
A scholarship winner from the Berklee College of Music, Rovatti spent time living both in the United States and Italy. She has appeared in many festivals and has worked alongside such artists as Bob Mintzer, Don Alias, Mike Stern, Victor Bailey, and Renee Rosnes. For The Green Factor, the core group consists of pianist George Colligan, violinist Christian Howes, bassist Janek Gwizdala, and drummer Obed Calvaire. Rovatti's husband, trumpeter Randy Brecker, appears on a few tracks.
"The Kerry Dance" begins with a traditional Irish vibe, featuring Ivan Goff on uilleann pipes and pennywhistles. The rhythm section then kicks in with a lively pace, as Rovatti and Brecker blend on the melody before the trumpeter takes point with a solo. Mellow at first, it picks up intensity along the way. The background trio is firmly engaged, but it's Gwizdala's bass line that stands out. Colligan follows with a solo and then Rovatti brings the tenor in. Her solo includes several blazing-speed phrases.
The title song is a high-energy fare that focuses largely on the interaction between Rovatti and Howes. The violin and the sax complement each other well. Howes' solo is underscored by the always-engaged rhythm section. It's difficult not to want to isolate Calvaire, but to do so would miss out on Gwizdala, Howes, or Colligan. Rovatti again breaks out the rich tone of the tenor. Her many-notes-per-second phrasing is stunning. Gwizdala then solos, taking the bass up to its highest reaches.
"I Lost My Wisdom" is perhaps the most free-spirited track of the set. Guitarist Adam Rogers joins on this blues-rock piece. Rogers and Rovatti share a dissonant melody before the guitarist embarks on a solo. Calvaire is in a zone on the cymbals and with tom rolls while the solo revs up.
Rovatti wrote six of the 10 songs, dedicating "Peter Pan" to three Peter Pans in her life who have died in recent years. Among them is Michael Brecker, brother to Randy, for whom Rovatti dedicates "Your Highness." The result is a set that successfully melds the traditional with the adventurous. Rovatti is on top of her game throughout, and the rest of the band complements her perfectly, keeping the cohesion of the group intact while expressing their individuality.
Track Listing: The Kerry Dance; The Green Factor; Oh Corko Mio; I Lost My Wisdom; Oh Danny Boy; The Untold Story; Somewhere Over the Rainbow; Wild Colonial Boy; Peter Pan; Your Highness.
Personnel: Ada Rovatti: tenor and soprano saxes; Christian Howes: violin; Janek Gwizdala: electric bass; George Colligan: piano and Fender Rhodes; Obed Calvaire: drums; Randy Brecker: trumpet and flugelhorn (1, 5); Adam Rogers: electric guitar (3, 4, 6, 8); Ivan Goff: uilleann bagpipe and pennywhistles (1, 3, 5, 9).