Quite apart from reminding us what a fine composer and arranger Enrico Rava is, The Words and the Days
underlines just what a complete trumpeter he is. His sound is personal, yet imbued with the spirit of a century of jazz trumpeters before him. Throughout the twelve tracks his tone is warm and lyrical, colored by European classicism and the Italian love of melody. His playing is sparse at times, free and piercing at others, but always emotive.
The strength and beauty of the compositions are fully revealed by the wonderful playing of the veteran Italian musicians who accompany Rava. The rhythm section of bassist Rosario Bonaccorso and drummer Roberto Gatto is, for the most part, deliciously understated and Andrea Pozza makes the piano stool his own following the departure of Stefano Bollani. Pozza's solo on "Secrets, an epic tune of shifting moods, is as controlled as it is inventive and his contribution to the album is significant.
The fact that The Words and the Days was recorded in a mere two days is testament to the level of understanding between the musicians. As Rava's moods change and the direction of the music shifts, the others respond and follow intuitively, as naturally as birds following the signs along an ancient migratory route. Gianluca Petrella's trombone, exquisite throughout, echoes Rava's trumpet so closely at times as to be almost indistinguishable, like the voices of siblings.
On "Echoes of Duke Rava and Petrella combine to recreate the jungle sounds of trumpeter Bubber Miley and trombonist Tricky Sam Nanton from Ellington's band of the late '20s. There are echoes too of Chet Baker on the Russell Freeman tune "The Wind, which seems to contain the seeds of "My Funny Valentine. On these tracks, and "Art Deco by Don Cherry, Rava is respectful of tradition and influences but by no means reverential.
Eight of the twelve songs are Rava originals and there is one apiece from Bonaccorso and Gatto, the former an atmospheric solo number and the latter a playful jaunt. It is on the more extended pieces by Rava however, such as "Secrets, "Tutu, "The Serpent and "Doctor Ra and Mr. Va, that this combo really shines. The music has a natural ebb and flow, and the moods shift like the light on an autumn day, evoking landscape and stirring memories.
The Words and the Days is a beautiful album and Rava's quintet must surely rank alongside the combos of Dave Holland, Wayne Shorter and Tomasz Stanko as one of the very finest around.
Track Listing: The Words and the Days; Secrets; The Wind; Echoes of Duke; Tutu; Sogni Proibiti; Todamor; Serpent; Art Deco; Traps; Bob the Cat; Doctor Ra and Mr. Va.
Personnel: Enrico Rava: trumpet; Gianluca Petrella: trombone; Andrea Pozza: piano; Rosario Bonaccorso: double-bass; Roberto Gatto: drums.