Enrico Rava weaves his passionate trumpet through "Viaggo A Donnafugata, the opening track of pianist Salvatore Bonafede's new album. Kicking Journey To Donnafugata off with a nostalgic tone, he creates a prayerful introduction to an album which pays homage to the beloved island of Sicily, the setting for Luchino Visconti's 1963 film Il Gattopardo (The Leopard). Journey To Donnafugata is actually an exploration of Nino Rota's soundtrack to the movie, complete with Giuseppe Verdi's "Gran Valser, played as a solo trumpet piece.
With a robust crew of musicians (Bonafede and Rava are joined by guitarist John Abercrombie, bassist Ben Street, drummer Clarence Penn, and special guests Ralph Towner on classical guitar and Michele Rabbia on percussion), the group seeks to honor Rota's score, while celebrating the glory of Sicily's rich musical culture and expounding on the work with its members' own adventurous ideas as musicians and improvisers. One of Bonafede's three original compositions on the disc, "Reputation And Character, mixes Towner's gypsy plucking with Abercrombie's wicked rambles and Bonafede's impish tinkling, all thrown into a steaming stew filled with both the exotic and the familiar. They play off each other, complementing and contrasting, but joining up as well, like musical mates finding their "buddies on a field trip. They ramble together through whimsical passages like the courteous jaunt between Rava's flugelhorn and Abercrombie's guitar on "Mazurka.
The swinging jubilance of "Quadriglia, propelled by Ben Street's jousty bass and Penn's paunchy drums, allows Bonafede to wield freely among his mates. Slowing things down, Towner's mysterious classical guitar on Bonafede's "Taceas, Me Spectes arouses the long tones of Rava's trumpet for the 24-second "Gran Valser that follows.
For "Angelica, Bonafede's tune named for the film's female lead, Abercrombie busts out with a rock solo, setting up an anthemic atmosphere for Rava to blow on that culminates in a bristling polyrhythmic chandelier of guitar, piano, drums, and bass. The pianist rented a studio in Sicily next to the Villa Boscogrande, where parts of The Leopard were shot. His arrangements of Rota's work are commendable, but his own compositions are where this band really breathes.
Viaggio a Donnafugata Rota; Gran Valzer Verdi 0:45; Reputation and Character Bonafede; Mazurka Rota; Polka Rota; Controdanza/Taceas, Me Spectes Bonafede, Rota; Galop Rota; Quadriglia Rota; Taceas, Me Spectes Bonafede; Gran Valzer Verdi; Angelica Bonafede; Valzer del Commiato Rota; Viaggio a Donnafugata Rota
John Abercrombie (Guitar); Clarence Penn (Drums); Michele Rabbia (Percussion); Enrico Rava (Trumpet, Flugelhorn); Ben Street (Bass); Ralph Towner (Guitar)
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