Monday, August 23, 2010

Enrico Rava: Italian Style

Enrico Rava (trumpet; b. 1939)

Enrico Rava's career spans over four decades and almost ever continent. Highly influenced by Miles Davis and Chet Baker, Rava has played with a long list of luminaries including, Don Cherry, Carla Bley, Roswell Rudd, Steve Lacy, Archie Shepp among others. His thick tones are both lush and bold, allowing the listener to become fully engaged in the melody.

For me he is one of the few trumpeters who has consistently has recorded excellent material throughout his career. I'm not saying there isn't a bad record in his over 40 album discography but you will be had pressed to be disappointed by even his weakest album (which ever one that my be). Rava toured with Steve Lacy during the late sixties which began to shape his style and performance.

Rava's earlier recordings are more in the European Free Jazz mode. But these are not necessarily "Free Jazz" in the Ornette Coleman or Don Cherry sense. Rava's style is rhythmic, emotional and leveled, that even the newest person to jazz would find it inviting. He has unique way of balance space and structure in his recordings that has always been something I've gravitated to time and time again. Rava's work in the 80s become much more structured and he gave more freedom to his follow band members which is still true today although his recent albums are also much more intimate.

Most of Enrico Rava's albums are surprisingly readily available either online or your local record store. I would say that his most recent quintet recording New York Days (ECM; 2009) is definitely the best place to start for anyone just getting into Enrico Rava. New York Days is both an adventurous impressionist journey as well as a relaxed midtempo excursion into a highly gifted set of musicians.

The quintet included seasoned and future legends; Paul Motian (drums), Mark Turner (sax) Larry Grenadier (bass) and Stefano Bollani (piano), each in their own right have become enormously respected musicians around the globe. Bollani and Motian have worked with Rava on numerous occasions and their performances here demonstrate a deep understanding the men must have as apparent on the lengthy "Certi Angoli Sergerti" which has some rich beautiful lyricism throughout.

Mark Turner and Larry Grenadier show their versatility and emotional depth on "Lulu" and "Outsider" respectfully. Both musicians develop a dialog with Rava is delicate and highly functional for this to be the first meeting in a studio setting. New York Days is a composed yet free flowing work that illustrates a whole range of talent among the musicians. It is also the lyrical piece of genius that Rava has conjured into existence that I believe in enjoyable amongst his most devoted fans like me as well anyone hearing him for the first time.

Some other essential Enrico Rava:

Il giro del giorno in 80 Mondi (Black Saint)
The Pilgrim And The Stars (ECM)
Rava String Band (Soul Note)
Plays Miles Davis (Label Bleu)
Easy Living (ECM)

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