165

Enrico Rava: Full of Life

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
In a recent AAJ article, Marc Meyers makes a strong case for a new mainstream in jazz, championed by artists like trumpeters David Weiss and Dave Douglas, as well as the improvisationally and compositionally rich SF Jazz Collective. But it's worthwhile to note that there are still artists out there mining the legacy of the more conventional mainstream for new riches.

Italian trumpeter Enrico Rava, who enjoys a reputation as a fearless improviser in a multitude of contexts, chooses to examine that legacy on this '02 session for the Italian Cam Jazz label. Full of Life was recently issued in the US as part of Cam's distribution deal with Sunnyside Records. While only three standards appear in the eleven-song programme, the rest—composed by Rava and saxophonist Javier Girotto—feel equally locked in time, but in a way that doesn't diminish their freshness.

One reason is the lineup: a quartet fleshed out by bassist Ares Tavolazzi and drummer Fabrizio Sferra. Lacking any kind of chordal accompaniment, this instrumentation is generally more closely associated with the free jazz explorations of Ornette Coleman's classic quartet or, more recently, John Zorn's Masada and Dave Douglas' Magic Triangle quartet. And, to be sure, while Tavolazzi and Sferra keep things on form throughout, they stretch time in a modernistic fashion, instead of relying on the swing-defined rhythmic tendency of most mainstream ensembles—and that's one definition, if there is such a thing, of a European jazz approach.

Another reason is that Girotto's saxophones of choice are the soprano and baritone variety. While the soprano entwines with Rava's trumpet and flugelhorn seamlessly and organically, the lower range of the baritone creates an inherently larger sound that makes the front line sometimes sound bigger than it is. And it's no coincidence that Rava chose to work with a baritone player, since his music makes clear references to work by Gerry Mulligan and his collaborations with Chet Baker. In fact, the generally soft ambience of the entire set is in clear homage to the West Coast Cool of which Mulligan and Baker were such instrumental parts.

There's an uncanny sense of the familiar in tunes like Girotto's swinging "Miss MG" (of which two versions are presented here), the soothing bossa of Rava's "Recuerdos," and the ambling "Happiness is to Win a Big Prize in Cash" that makes them feel of a kind to the standards: "The Surrey With the Fringe on Top," where Rava breaks up the familiar theme with well-placed rests, the balladic elegance of "Moonlight in Vermont," and a dark-hued reading of "Nature Boy."

But as much as form plays a major role, the interplay between Rava and Girotto suggests more open-mindedness at work. "Nature Boy," in fact, often hints at more than it actually states, from both the front line and the rhythm section. It's this kind of liberal approach that makes Full of Life avoid the conventional, even as it remains clearly respectful of its roots.


Track Listing: 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 saxophone, soprano saxophone; Ares Tavolazzi: double bass; Fabrizio Sferra: drums.

Title: Full of Life | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: CAM Jazz


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Aqustico vol 2 CD/LP/Track Review Aqustico vol 2
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 25, 2017
Read Lattice CD/LP/Track Review Lattice
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 25, 2017
Read Beginnings CD/LP/Track Review Beginnings
by David A. Orthmann
Published: September 25, 2017
Read Synchronic CD/LP/Track Review Synchronic
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 25, 2017
Read Slægt CD/LP/Track Review Slægt
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 24, 2017
Read An Eye on the Future CD/LP/Track Review An Eye on the Future
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 24, 2017
Read "Wee +3" CD/LP/Track Review Wee +3
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 7, 2016
Read "One" CD/LP/Track Review One
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: May 2, 2017
Read "Second City" CD/LP/Track Review Second City
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 9, 2017
Read "Ma De Re Sha" CD/LP/Track Review Ma De Re Sha
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 28, 2017
Read "Music of Weather Report" CD/LP/Track Review Music of Weather Report
by John Ephland
Published: October 16, 2016
Read "Meditation / Resurrection" CD/LP/Track Review Meditation / Resurrection
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 8, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.