Ernesto Cervini: Tetrahedron

Friedrich Kunzmann By

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Ernesto Cervini: Tetrahedron
A tetrahedron is a pyramid with a triangle base, thus a three dimensional shape consisting of four triangle faces. On the cover of his newest undertaking as a leader, Canadian drummer Ernesto Cervini uses this shape as an analogy to his working trio inviting a fourth member to the party. In this case the fourth person is New York-based guitarist Nir Felder, whom Cervini had met during his time studying at the Manhattan School of Music, between 2003 and 2007. An adequate metaphor in some ways, it doesn't hold up in every aspect; looked at from a specific angle the geometrical shape creates the illusion of having only three faces. In comparison, at no point can the band on the album Tetrahedron be mistaken for a trio. Felder's warm guitar comping and slipping and sliding scale runs are omnipresent throughout an intense display of original fusion-sounds and a couple of modernly approached standards. His presence is never hidden on the flipside but a constant and welcome companion in plain sight.

The set opens with an arpeggiated progression, played not on guitar but on delay-and-treble-heavy electric bass by Rich Brown, who then switches to an offbeat bass line, inviting the rest of the band to join in on an unexpectedly modern take of the Sigmund Romberg/Oscar Hammerstein II penned "Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise." Guitar and saxophone take the lead on a rhythmically ignited spur through a known tune, guided through unknown territory—of which the melody is revealed only a minute before the end.

Other measures, such as Vince Mendoza's "Angelicus," are able to keep up with the youthful vigor introduced on the opener and express an air of excitement through the lively interplay and melodic duality between guitar and Luis Deniz on alto sax. However, when the group succumbs to its fusion-predilection, the sound of the record tends to grow slightly trivial. Brown-penned "Forward Motion" and Cervini's "Boo Radley" belong to those high- energy fusion-cuts, whose execution is flawless, maybe even exceptional, but a certain sense of redundancy prevails, leaving the listener with the sensation that this has been done before.

On "Stro" the quartet picks up the slack again. Based around playful polyrhythmic exchanges between drums and bass, the choppy tune finds the band at its dynamic peak—a high which is extended far into the modernized post-bop take of Bunky Green's "Summit Song." The leader's "The Sneaky Two," written during his period in New York, closes the set on the inventive fusion note it had opened with—alive, energetic and slightly offbeat. A fitting finish to a positively curious and fun record. Another great addition to the Cervini discography, which—between his Quartet, the Turboprop sextet, the chordless trio Tunetown and a number of other projects—is growing at impressive speed and to remarkable variety, Tetrahedron exposes another sonic environment in which the drummer excels as a musician and a composer.

Track Listing

Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise; Forward Motion; Angelicus; Boo Radley; Stro; Summit Song; Wandering; The Sneaky Two.


Ernesto Cervini: drums; Nir Felder: guitar; Luis Deniz: saxophone, alto; Rich Brown: bass, electric.

Album information

Title: Tetrahedron | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Anzic Records

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