CD REVIEW: Enrico Rava Quartet with Gianluca Petrella - Wild Dance

Enrico Rava Quartet with Gianluca Petrella - Wild Dance
(ECM. 473 2228. CD Review by Patrick Hadfield)

It came as a surprise to realise that trumpeter Enrico Rava is well into his seventies: he plays with the spirit and passion more associated with youth. Maybe that is because he surrounds himself with more younger musicians. This, his touring quartet, augmented by his frequent collaborator Gianluca Petrella on trombone on several tracks, is described as a "transgenerational undertaking".

It clearly works, for both Rava and his proteges. It is a record with a lot of space and understatement, something Rava puts down to using a guitarist rather than a pianist to provide the harmonic foundation. Certainly Francesco Diodati leaves room for the others to play: fleeting chords hover, sustained, providing just enough structure for Rava and Petrella to solo over. Elsewhere Diodati adds depth through distortion, giving a texture to the space.

The two horn players solo with great style. At times Rava plays in a low, mournful register, at others he plays high, penetrating notes, his solos flowing from his trumpet. Petrella sometimes plays in unison with Rava, at others he is away on his own devices. They complement each other superbly.

Gabriele Evangelista's bass and the drums of Enrico Morello are key to allowing Rava and Petrella their space to roam. The bass and drums have a quiet insistence, making their presence felt not through loudness or the number of notes they play, but sure-footed subtlety. Exponents of "less is more", on the slower pieces like Wild Dance and Overboard they both make every note count, but may drop out for significant lengths of time. On the faster tunes, such as the speedy post-bop of Happy Shades, they are equally at home pushing the tune along, with no less subtlety.

Rava wrote all the music, aside from the clearly collaborative Improvisation, one of the slower pieces. Elsewhere, he has composed tunes reminiscent of various shades of Ornette Coleman, such as the slow title track or the fast riffing of Infant. Other numbers capture the feel of classic jazz ballads.

Rava has been recording for ECM for forty years. One of Europe's foremost jazz musicians, he'd be forgiven for wanting to take it easy. But if he keeps producing music of this calibre, I hope he doesn't.

Patrick Hadfield lives in Edinburgh, occasionally takes photographs, and sometimes blogs at On the Beat. Twitter: @patrickhadfield.

LINKS: CD Review - Rava on the Dance Floor
Live Review - Enrico Rava Tribe at the 202 Valamar Jazz Festival

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