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Enrico Rava Quartet with Gianluca Petrella: Wild Dance

Mark Sullivan By

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Stalwart Italian jazz trumpeter Enrico Rava introduces his new working quartet for this Wild Dance, joined by longtime playing partner trombonist Gianluca Petrella. Petrella contributed to Rava's three ECM post-millennium quintet albums Tribe (2011), The Words & The Days (2005) and Easy Living (2003). The basic quartet features a guitar rather than piano, recalling Rava's 1970s ECM recordings with John Abercrombie, The Pilgrim And The Stars (1975) and The Plot (1976). Guitarist Francesco Diodati is more of a texturalist in the Bill Frisell mode, contributing to the group sound in different ways from tune to tune. "I often prefer to hear a guitarist playing behind a soloist—not least because guitarists can't play chords with 10 fingers," Rava jokes.

The only other quartet member returning from Rava's previous small group album is double bassist Gabriele Evangelista. So it really is a "new" quartet, once again confirming the leader's instincts as a talent scout. How does he keep finding such talented Italian jazz musicians? Rava provides them a wide variety of material to work with. Almost half the tracks are new; the others—suggested by band members, much to Rova's delight—date back to the 80s and 90s.

"Diva" (one of the older tunes) opens the album with typical ECM atmospherics. But then "Space Girl" continues with a vaguely martial rhythm, and a song-like melody that recalls the modern standard "Alfie" at first. "Infant" has a start-and-stop post-bop head that recalls Ornette Coleman (who is also referenced in "Cornette"): the solos take place over a surprisingly noisy open backing, reminding us of Rava's early avant-garde work. The band's collective improvisation goes into that territory as well, as does "Happy Shades."

The title tune is a memorable composition. But no one would identify it as "Wild Dance" in a blindfold test; it's much more reflective than wild. "F. Express" gives guitarist Diodati a chance to go fully electronic during the introduction, supplying spacey echo effects; but the tune itself has an old-school swing feel. Another example of the wide variety of moods here. Rava and Petrella are both in top form, and the youthful rhythm section is completely supportive, alternately brooding and fiery as the music demands.

Another very enjoyable recording from the ever-reliable trumpeter. Here's hoping for many more small group projects from him. This quartet certainly deserves another recording date.

Track Listing: Diva; Space Girl; Don’t; Infant; Sola; Not Funny; Wild Dance; F. Express; Cornette; Overboard; Happy Shades; Monkitos; Improvisation; Frogs.

Personnel: Enrico Rava: trumpet; Francesco Diodati: guitar; Gabriele Evangelista: double bass; Enrico Morello: drums; Gianluca Petrella: trombone.

Title: Wild Dance | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: ECM Records

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