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Album Review

Enrico Rava & Fred Hersch: The Song Is You

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Enrico Rava & Fred Hersch: The Song Is You
Flashbacks pop up immediately on registering the instrumentation (flugelhorn and piano) and material (jazz standards and Great American Songbook ballads) on Enrico Rava and Fred Hersch's The Song Is You. Among them, Chet Baker and Paul Bley's Diane (Steeplechase, 1985) and Baker and Enrico Pieranunzi's The Heart Of The Ballad (Philology, 1988).

The Baker association is affirmed by The Song Is You's opening track, Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Retrato em Branco e Preto." Rava's intimate, caressing tone and Hersch's gentle accompaniment suggest that the album is not about to frighten the horses. But wait. That is only for starters. On the next track, "Improvisation," Rava and Hersch venture further out—and they stay there for the rest of the disc. Chromaticism is off the menu, and lyricism is firmly centrestage, but the individual songs' harmonic structures are explored and stretched. So, too, is the historically received vibe of George Bassman's "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You," which here is so jumpy-jaunty as to border on the comical.

So, far from being simply an enjoyable wallow in nostalgia, The Song Is You travels down unfamiliar paths while, reassuringly, never losing sight of its starting points. Along the way are two originals, Rava's "The Trial" and Hersch's "Child's Song," which sit comfortably among their distinguished fellows.

Engrossing though the entire album is, the best moments are saved until last. Thelonious Monk's "Misterioso" and "Round Midnight," the latter for piano only, are exquisite. Every jazz fan probably knows each of these tunes as well as anything else one could name in the jazz standards canon, but Rava and Hersch's versions are as fresh and full of new promise as a spring morning.

A quietly sensational album.

Track Listing

Retrato em Branco e Preto; Improvisation; I’m Getting Sentimental Over You; The Song Is You; Child’s Song; The Trial; Misterioso; Round Midnight.

Personnel

Enrico Rava: trumpet; Fred Hersch: piano.

Additional Instrumentation

Enrico Rava: flugelhorn.

Album information

Title: The Song Is You | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: ECM Records


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