Enrico Rava

Rava Plays Rava

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Trumpeter Enrico Rava teams with pianist Stefano Bollani for an hour-long program of his own compositions -- finally. Rava is one of the most important composers on the European scene, and all too often large bands that don't include him as a performer record his works. Here are all the sides to this fine maestro, from the wondrously Nino Rota-like chamber pieces, such as "Le Solite Cost," to the deep, minor-key meditations on sensuality and swing such as "Bandoleros." But there are more; there are the gorgeous modal ballads that rely as much on Italian folk songs and classical music as jazz as on "Lady Orlando," with its wonderful diminished ninth motif. But there are the straight-ahead numbers here, too, where Rava offers listeners his true worth as a jazzman: "Suzie Wong I & II" and "Jazz at the Club Club." Perhaps the greatest justice here is that in pianist Stefano Bollani, Rava finally has an accompanist who is not only able but delighted to take on the challenge of his music and treat it as the wonderfully arranged collection of colors, moods, textures, and motifs it is, and to allow Rava his place as a soloist. Bollani is a furious pianist whose lyrical sense is pervasive whether playing an arrangement or improvising; Rava's own melodic sensibilities and short, clipped phrases that seem to come from the center of a tune rather than pour down on it are served well by this approach. The Monk-like "Thank You, Come Again," with its off-kilter harmonics and stutter-step swing, is perhaps the finest and most seamless track here. It's full of verve, light, and a surefootedness that displays all of Rava's strengths in a short work. This is a delightful recording, one that provides jazz listeners with the most pervasive portrait of one of its most under-celebrated figures.

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