The David Restivo Trio's Arancina is all about "home," whether it is pianist Restivo's ancestral home in Sicily, projected with a beautifully-painted homage on his four-part "Sicilian Suite," or his brief home in Nova Scotia with "Raven's Wing," inspired by the dark birds soaring over the Northumberland Strait which separates Nova Scotia from Prince Edward Island. Then there is Restivo's coming home to his bebop roots with "It's You Or No One," the Jules Styne-Sammy Can song from the 1948 movie Romance On the High Seas, a tune turned into a jazz classic thanks to saxophonist Dexter Gordon's version, on his 1961 Blue Note Records album Doin' Allright.
Restivo's trio, with drummer Alyssa Falk and bassist Jim Vivian, is a propulsion unit. That aspect of their artistry shines on "Train To Catania," the first part of the terrific "Sicilian Suite" which opens the set. The suite itself celebrates the diversity of a land set apart from the surrounding continents, positioned adrift in the Mediterranean Sea, where it has been subject to the influences brought about by historic invasions and migrations, a unique cultural mish-mash that, coming through Resitvo's prism, makes for a sound with a vivacious momentum and unvarnished beautythe clamorous joy of "Palermo Street Scene," the ruminative cerebralism of "Moonlight in Modica," the crispy ebullience of "Arancina."
"Baby Steps" is a Restivo tune based loosely on John Coltrane's "Giant Steps." Given the sound that inspired it, the tune is surprisingly introspective, featuring a time-stands-still vibe, with drummer Falk displaying a fitting Billy Hart-like flutter percussion.
The set includes a pair of vocal interludes, with Fawn Fritzen sitting in with the trio. The singer co-wrote both pieces with Restivo; "Kintsugi" and "Bittersweet Goodbye" are both intimate, like serious conversations across a kitchen table, over cups of coffee; like Gordon Jenkins' "Goodbye" or Elvis Costello's "Baby Plays Around," both are heartbreakingly sad in an eloquent way, like the best of sad songs.
Train to Catania; Palermo Street Scenes; Moonlight in Modica; Arancina; Kintsugi; Raven's Wing; Baby Steps;
Bittersweet Goodbye; It's You Or No One.