Enrico Rava Easy Living Review

Released 2004.  

BBC Review

First outing on ECM in 16 years from the Italian trumpet star...

Martin Longley 2004

Italian trumpeter Rava's last release on ECM was Volver, way back in 1986. His return to the Manfred Eicher stable follows a recent run on France's Label Bleu. These sessions were recorded in Udine, not far from Rava's birthplace, and were produced by Eicher himself. Nowadays, Enrico appears to have settled down when compared to the work he did with Roswell Rudd, Tony Oxley, the Jazz Composer's Orchestra or, more recently, the Italian Instabile Orchestra; on the cover, he reclines restfully, bathed in lambent light, evoking the musical mood within.

There's a clear preference for ballads, although as the album develops, the material gathers pace and intensity. The compositions are Enrico's own, apart from the title track standard, a tune which is brushed over lightly, almost like a melodic sketch. The opening "Cromosomi" is very relaxed, wafting its theme as Rosario Bonaccorso sings along to his bass solo. "Drops" consolidates the romantic mood, as Rava exchanges pristine lines with trombonist Gianluca Petrella, a former student of the leader's who now qualifies as a hot new discovery. Petrella also makes a mark on "Sand", spreading his tone widely, burbling and buzzing with an enquiring pair of lips. His friendly outburst helps rouse Rava into a peppery display, restlessly moving up, down and around before quietening down for Stefano Bollani's piano solo.

It's at this halfway point that the direction changes, with "Algir Dalbughi" coming on as an old-fashioned swinger, complete with ensemble singalongs and muted-trombone theatricality. Rava races off in a trilling hurry, alternating with a garrulous Petrella. Bonaccorso provides another talking bass solo on "Blancasnow", where the leader opens up his tubes for some forceful soloing. Petrella is always able to match his mentor's vigour and expressiveness. "Hornette And The Drums Thing" is an Ornette Coleman pastiche, providing a closely-twinned horn chase and a tumbling drum spotlight for Roberto Gatto.

This quintet was formed at the turn of the century, and has forged a strong group identity that becomes even more evident during live performance. The album operates on a thoughtful level, restraining the full extrovert power of Rava's recent gigging form. Nevertheless, the trumpeter himself believes this to be his best recorded work so far.

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