Born in Italy, trained at Berklee and a semi-veteran of Europe’s jazz scene, Ada Rovatti comes as quite a discovery to American ears. She possesses not only a powerful tenor tone and sharp technical facility, but also a significant gift for jazz composition. Her performances on this album are marvelous and further polished by the presence of a handful of special guests.
Randy Brecker is an especially apt partner for Rovatti; his bright and bold sound complements her strong, Coltrane-inspired vigor nicely. The pair spar in daring harmony on tracks like “O Corko Mio” and “Stuntman.” The latter tune features Don Alias’ percussion and some tastily subdued call-and-response by the horns. Guitarist Mike Stern acts as the second “horn” on three tracks, beginning with “Blues for Kahl,” which his haunting tone colors in shades of darkest azure.
The core band sounds exceptionally solid. With the flowing support of pianist Jill McCarron, Rovatti lays out languid, tender assays of Gershwin’s “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” and the saxophonist’s “Where Is Home.” Bassist Nikki Parrott and drummer Steve Johns are quite understated much of the time, so much so that at times one forgets they are even present. That’s not a criticism because they offer perfect support while letting Rovatti and her guests claim the spotlights..
The leader still evidently splits her time between New York and Italy. More’s the pity for the Big Apple, because Rovatti’s warm-toned confidence must surely light up the stage whenever she is in town. Magical.