Inspired by Alberto Ferrero della Marmora’s one hundred year old book “Voyage en Sardaigne”, saxophonist/composer Enzo Favata is accompanied by the usual members of his group and some of Sardinia’s best musicians while weaving a fabric of folksy pieces that successfully integrate elements of European jazz stylization’s. The approach is startlingly genuine as the listener gets a peek into this historic and industrious Mediterranean Island through these exhilarating and wondrously refreshing compositions.
“Contami unu Contu” commences with a beautiful melody that carries a Mediterranean feel featuring Favata’s lyrical soprano sax, classical guitar by Marcello Peghin and Daniele di Bonaventura’s bandoneon. Here, the motif is quite appealing as the harmonies emit positive and joyous sentiment while the alternating movements proceed with a sense of urgency. On “Tottu custos Inghirios”, Favata along with Peghin and Maltana perform in trio mode as the song takes on a warm and contemplative feel yet the festive atmosphere overrides and prevails while the sentiment proclaims sounds of triumph and accomplishment through alternating choruses. “Boche ‘e Notte” is a traditional song of Sardinia and features a vocal group accompanying Favata’s illustrative soprano sax work. The vocals are haunting and at times sound electronically treated but that is just an observation and could be attributed to the overtly uncanny harmonizations by the vocalists.
By now, the listener is aware of the enchanting ethnicity conveyed through the compositions and adept ensemble work. It all seems second nature to these folks. On “Ballu Nou”, Luigi Lai picks up an instrument called the “launeddas” which is a three reed piped instrument. “Dulchemente in S’albore” features the full ensemble as Maltana’s pulsing bass lines quickly establish the fervent tempo. Favata’s soprano sax in tandem with Peghin’s electric guitar and synths overlay the pleasing melody as Gavino Murgia’s tenor sax work is rich yet raspy in tone while reinventing the melody with conviction. The musicians converge as the pace reaches a plateau while Favata and Murgia trade a few bars featuring complimentary and resourceful sax work. Here, as in most of these pieces the ethnic/European components prevail.
“Voyage en Sardaigne” is a multi-colored and richly textured outing which etches Favata’s vision and purpose in stone. There is a whole lot going here as these pieces represent a variety of different angles and contrasting approaches to modern jazz and ethnic folk music. The end results do not prove to be far reaching or suffer from self-absorption. All in all, “Voyage en Sardaigne” stands on its own for originality and flawless conceptual execution. A unique experience for sure! **** ½ stars out of 5. Don’t miss out on this one, especially if you’re yearning for something slightly unconventional yet flavorsome.