The sole remaining member of the Enrico Rava's stellar working quintet between 2004's Easy Living and 2007's The Words and the Days is trombonist Gianluca Petrella. His horn and Rava's trumpet create a stellar, sometimes fiery front line, but it's one that never loses sight of lyricism. The new group on Tribe has some young members: double bassist Gabriele Evangelista and pianist Giovanni Guidi are in their mid-twenties, while drummer Fabrizio Sferra is a seasoned veteran. The quintet is made a sextet on four of the album's 11 cuts with the addition of young Italian guitarist Giacomo Ancillotto. The material ranges from re-visionings of tunes from Rava's catalogs well as new numbers. There are gorgeous atmospheric ballads such as "Amnesia," "Tears for Neda," and "Garbage Can Blues," as well more kinetic ones such as "Cornetteology" (that pays more than a passing tribute to the knotty lyricism of Ornette Coleman, and is evolved from "Cornette" on a 1987 Soul Note album called Secrets). Newer tunes, such as the modally inflected post-bop of "Choctaw" and the Latin-tinged title cut are fully engaged, the ensemble firing on all cylinders. This is the new freedom that Rava, a child of the '60s free jazz explosion talks about in interviews. According to him, while the earlier music pushed at jazz's boundaries of time, dynamics, and tonal restrictions, it became a slave of its own struggle to free itself from these things: they were not allowed at all. Here, whether things get woolly and rugged or remain spacious and melodic, lyricism itself is still at the core, and in this, according to Rava, is a much greater freedom to explore. Given the lovely sonic evidence on Tribe, his position is difficult to argue with. This is a band that is exciting, fresh, and inventive. How they grow will be fascinating to observe.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek