The ancient and the modern is the theme of composer/saxophonist Enzo Favata's The New Village. Together with his Tentetto, he fuses traditional vocals from Sardinia, his home, with the American jazz lexicon. Unlike the cultural larceny of Paul Simon's Graceland (Warner, 1986), Favata's music coalesces into an ingenuous expression of music.
The saxophonist has immersed himself in Sardinia's culture, releasing traditional music of the past. Here, he invites a quartet of traditional singers, the Tenores di Bitti, a sort of ancient barbershop quartet to introduce several tracks and supplement the jazz. The Tenores di Bitti has a guttural and at first listen, a harsh sound. The singers' throaty, back-of-the-mouth delivery, derived from shepherd's passing time, gradually flows into the music, not unlike Albert Ayler's plaintive delivery.
Favata fancies the jazz of the 1960s and '70s, plus he incorporates electronics, sampling, and electric instrumentation into his compositions. Daniele Di Bonaventura's Fender Rhodes swirls around the primeval vocals with Marcello Peghin's electric guitar announcing that everything new is quite old again. Like Dave Douglas reintroducing the '70s electric piano sound into his quintet a few years ago, the signal that it's okay to re-examine the plugged-in has been made. And like Douglas, Favata's energy is not focused on a jazz/rock fusion but a more ancient/modern blending.
The title track begins with the singers repeating several verses, the full band taking their patterns and expanding into a hearty groove-based song with continual reference back to the vocals. Favata solos over Peghin's extended guitar techniques with his broad tenor sound, reminiscent of Dexter Gordon or Johnny Griffin. Also heard here is the talented Riccardo Pittau, a serious improviser and extended trumpet technician who constantly blends, slurs, and accents this outing to great effect.
In the end, as the final track "In su soul e S'anima (to marcello and Lester)" so artfully demonstrates, all great music (jazz or ancient) begins with the blues.
Comare Mia; From Ottana To New York; T'amo' Su tempus nou; The New Village; Angels Sing; In su Monte Seris now; Cantu a Isterrita; The Night of Boes and Merdules; Boche & Notte in Chicago; Pullighitta Blues; In su soul e S'anima (to marcello and Lester).
Enzo Favata: tenor saxophone, samplers; Riccardo Pittau: trumpet; Daniele Di Bonaventura: piano, Fender Rhodes piano; Marcello Peghin: electric guitar, live electronics; Salvatore Maltana: contrabass, electric bass; U.T. Gandhi: drums; Tenores di Bitti: Daniele Cossellu: vocals; Piero Sanna: vocals; Pierluigi Giorno: vocals; Mario Pira: vocals.