Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

216

Enrico Rava / Stefano Bollani Quintet at Birdland, NYC

Budd Kopman By

Sign in to view read count
Enrico Rava/Stefano Bollani Quintet at Birdland, NYC
Birdland
New York City, New York
February 24, 2008

Capping a four-day stand, and playing to a full house, trumpeter Enrico Rava and pianist Stefano Bollani, along with bassist Larry Grenadier, drummer Paul Motian and saxophonist Mark Turner were seductive, grooving, beautiful, while also being intellectual, very funny, moving and impressive.

Rava and Bollani have recently released a wonderful duo album The Third Man (ECM, 2008), and this appearance was tied to the recording; in fact, it was a running joke between the two. The album is extremely intimate and, perhaps thinking that such music might not work entirely well in a club setting, the duo was expanded to a quartet with a rhythm section, with Turner making it a quintet for this night.

The music was the kind of delicious modern mainstream that sends chills up the spines of anyone who appreciates attention to detail and responds to subtle surprises during a program performed effortlessly with every note full of meaning. Long an icon of the Italian jazz scene, Rava, now approaching seventy, knows who he is and what he wants to do. While his early career revolved around the avant-garde, he now has a simple, economical style, supported by a gorgeous trumpet sound distinctly reminiscent of his idols, Miles Davis and Chet Baker.

Bollani has played with Rava for more than a decade, only recently leaving to pursue his own projects, including his recent release Piano Solo (ECM, 2007). The two players have a clear comraderie, with Bollani considering Rava his mentor and Rava thinking the world of Bollani's talent.

The atmosphere was a combination of lightheartedness and intensity. Rava and Bollani were completely at ease with each other and the pacing of the music was never in doubt. Bollani's technical virtuosity was on full display, as was his extraordinary command of harmony, yet neither detracted from the group feeling. Motian provided extremely supple and complex rhythmic support, acting as a kind of reflection to Bollani, as both players added a layer of subtle complexity to the proceedings while being careful not to become too opaque.

The music thus swung in a sophisticated way, anchored by Grenadier, who was always listening to Motian. In the center was Rava, who played with assurance, using a lot of space while creating phrases that eventually connected to become sentences. Mark Turner's very light and airy tone blended well with the group as his reed provided contrast to the sound of Rava's brass.

The second tune, "Todamore," exemplified how the group worked. While the tune was ostensibly a tango, that rhythm's unique pattern was only hinted at, as neither Motian nor Bollani were explicit. Rava's solo was supported closely by Bollani as he fell in and out of rhythm. Bollani himself was magical, the harmony growing more and more abstract and venturing in Ravel-like territory. A joy to watch, he never stayed seated in one place for long, and his entire body became involved in the music.

The one tune played that was from The Third Man was Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Retrato Em Branco Y Preto," performed by just Rava and Bollani. This beautiful tune was given the same abstract treatment as on the record, and the depth of communication between pair was as evident to the eye as the ear. Berlin's "Cheek to Cheek" followed and lightened mood as the two joked at first. Bollani followed with a superb solo that combined the highest levels of both technical and musical ability.

By the end of the set, with the band now intact, Motian was smiling at Rava, as if to say that place where masters are having fun was reached. From the listener's perspective, the combination of Rava's maturity and elegance, Bollani's deep exuberance and Motian's subtle extroversion was a joy to behold.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Diane Schuur at Birdland Live Reviews Diane Schuur at Birdland
by Tyran Grillo
Published: November 20, 2017
Read Pat Metheny at Belfast Waterfront Live Reviews Pat Metheny at Belfast Waterfront
by Ian Patterson
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Crosscurrents at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor Live Reviews Crosscurrents at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: November 15, 2017
Read "Gilad Hekselman at the Cornelia Street Café" Live Reviews Gilad Hekselman at the Cornelia Street Café
by Tyran Grillo
Published: August 13, 2017
Read "Omar Sosa At SFJAZZ" Live Reviews Omar Sosa At SFJAZZ
by Walter Atkins
Published: May 13, 2017
Read "Jim Ridl: Project 142 at the DiMenna Center" Live Reviews Jim Ridl: Project 142 at the DiMenna Center
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: October 25, 2017
Read "October Revolution in Jazz & Contemporary Music 2017" Live Reviews October Revolution in Jazz & Contemporary Music 2017
by Mark Corroto
Published: October 24, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Please support out sponsor