In a career that has spanned over 40 years, Enrico Rava has expressed himself purely, finally emerging as one of the most original voices in contemporary music. He's always had beautiful things to say, but now, in the way he works with other musicians, those statements become poetry of the most exquisite colors.
Easy Living finds Rava fronting his regular Italian quintet with Gianluca Petrella on trombone, Stefano Bollani on piano, Rosario Bonaccorso on bass and Roberto Gatto on drums. The music reflects much of what Rava has heard and playedfree jazz, Dixieland, film music, etc.but the glorious sound of the leader's trumpet glows rich, bright and new. These players have a truly empathetic but understated chemistry which creates something that has no real genre in which to pigeonhole it. It's easy to say that Rava sounds like Miles Davis, yet his spare lyricism and haunting fragility lead somewhere else. Easy Living plays like a suite with each section flowing naturally into the next. The bittersweet opening of "Algir Dalbughi easily and gracefully morphs into a "new boogie" feeling in which the dazzling virtuosity of Bollani makes possible a fully formed statement from the band as a whole. Rava burns bright and hot but never at the expense of group interplay. From soft and sensuous to jaunty and playful, the tunesall Rava originalsare modern music of the highest order.
Rava and his extraordinary balladry are at the gorgeous center of TATI. The group is smaller and more intimateit's Rava and Stefano Bollani joined by Paul Motianbut the passion is no less powerful. Right from the start, Rava seems to be daring comparison with Miles. The tune is "The Man I Love " and it's as if we're hearing this Gershwin standard for the first time. Producer Manfred Eicher describes these explorations as "freely-phrased ballads and they are incredibly intimate and touch very close to home. The title tune is a tribute to French filmmaker Jacques Tati and later comes this trio's astounding take on one of the most famous Puccini arias, "E Lucevan le stelle from the opera Tosca. But no matter what the source this music is striking and original and beautifully complemented by the very individual ECM sound.
La Dolce Vita
This embarrassment of Rava riches continues with two sessions from the CAMJazz label. Creazioni Artistiche Musicali is an Italian label that specializes in soundtracks but has also given an artistic berth to jazz musicians, players that create what might be thought of as "internal soundtracks," their music painting scenes of expressive flow and scenic depth.
On La Dolce Vita, Rava and bassist Giovanni Tommaso lead a quartetwith Bollani and Gattoon a set of tunes either taken from or inspired by the movies. Says the trumpeter, "Although jazz and cinema started in the same period, over time they rarely crossed paths and when they did, it wasn't always blissful. This one, however, sounds to me like a happy union. The album opens with the theme from Scent of a Woman and immediately we're in the hands of artists who take images from film and reinvent them. It's quiet and sexy musicthe kind Rava continues to make. Tommaso takes a lovely turn on basscontemporary but as old as love itself. As on all of these recordings, Bollani combines startling technique with deeply moving emotion. There is some more familiar music"More (the theme from Mondo Canea '70s pop hit!) and Nino Rota's amusing and eccentric theme from La Dolce Vitabut the group treats every tune as if it were a promising new poetic landscape.
Full of Life
Full of Life is more directly a jazz album by a modern quartet that presents appealing originals and some lovely covers of standards. Rava is joined by saxophonist Javier Girotto and somehow the horns suggest two front linesChet Baker with Gerry Mulligan and Don Cherry with Ornette Coleman. The music is full-spirited and celebratory but also quiet and intimate. Girotto is a knockouthis baritone fills and dashing solo on "Surrey With the Fringe on Top and his surprisingly playful yet profound work on soprano on his own "Boston April 15th and "Miss MG suggest a musician who is smart but not afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve. And that's what this album is aboutstudied lyricism combined with the spontaneity of improvisation.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Cromosomi; Drops; Sand; Easy Living; Algir Dalbughi; Blancasnow; Traveling Night; Hornette and the Drums Thing; Rain.
Personnel: Enrico Rava: trumpet; Gianluca Petrella: trombone; Stefano Bollani: piano; Rosario Bonaccorso: bass; Roberto Gatto: drums.
Tracks: The Man I Love; Birdsong; Tati; Casa Di Bambola; E Lucevan le Stelle; Mirrors; Jessica Too; Golden Eyes; Fantasm; Cornettology; Overboard; Gang of 5.
Personnel: Enrico Rava: trumpet; Stefano Bollani: piano; Paul Motian: drums.
La Dolce Vita
Tracks: Profumo Di Donna (Scent of a Woman); Mondo Cane (A Dog's World); Cinema Moderno; Ammazzare il Tempo; Il Sogno Di Hitchcock; La Dolce Vita (The Sweet Life); Il Postino (The Postman); L' Avventura (Adventure); Il Prato (The Meadow); La Prima Volta; Cronaca Familiare (Family Diary).
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; Mystere; 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 [alternate take].
Personnel: Enrico Rava: trumpet, flugelhorn; Javier Girotto: baritone and soprano saxophones; Ares Tavolazzi: bass; Fabrizio Sferra: drums.