Enrico Rava Quartet: S/T (ECM 1122)
Enrico Rava Quartet
Enrico Rava trumpet
Roswell Rudd trombone
Jean-Francois Jenny-Clark bass
Aldo Romano drums
Recorded March 1978 at Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg
Engineer: Martin Wieland
Produced by Manfred Eicher
Enrico Rava, one of the trumpet's unsung heroes, unearthed a gem in this self-titled quartet offering from 1978. Although one can always expect an expertly realized variety in any Rava project, what makes this date so special is the assembly of its players. The Italian virtuoso's hit-you-in-the-chest lyricismmatched perhaps only by label mate Kenny Wheeleris foiled beautifully by trombonist Roswell Rudd, a free jazz specialist and Archie Shepp go-to whom ECM enthusiasts will recall from Michael Mantler's CONCERTOS and a smattering of Carla Bley releases on Watt. Rudd's fluid undertow brings our leader's more incisive melodic lines to vivid light, gently laying down long thematic carpets upon which every improvisatory step leaves behind an indelible print.
The opening chunk of Lavori Casalinghi" doesn't so much kick things off as pull the curtains to reveal a slow sunrise. The drumming of Aldo Romano sets off a spate of powerful statements from the two brassmen, each linked by a chain of highly charged relays. The rhythm section never lags, and even spawns a nimble-fingered turn from bassist Jean-Francois Jenny-Clark before sliding back into the mournful twists with which it began. This is one of two substantial cuts, the other being Tramps," a fifteen-and-a-half-minute swell of sometimes frenzied proportions. Rava and Rudd draw each other into ecstatic exchanges, their playing at its most soaring. Wilder moments are short-lived, but always tasteful. Romano shows off one of the most fluid snare rolls in the business here, flanked by rousing phrasings from Rava and Rudd both. The Fearless Five" is the first of three shorter numbers that flesh out this balanced effort. A bit of Monk creeps in, foreshadowing the well-worn Round About Midnight," which the crew buffs to like-new shine. Finally, the upbeat intro of Blackmail" leads into some prime playtime for Rava. And as he skips his way across the sky, we take comfort in the somber closure into which he lays his final rest.
All in all, a fine session bubbling with personality and heft, and one well worth owning for the Rava newbie and veteran alike.