Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Man and His Horn, Pt.1

I first heard Enrico Rava decades ago on a couple of his seventies ECM recordings on vinyl – The Pilgrim and the Stars and Enrico Rava Quartet. By that point ECM could do no wrong in my books so I faithfully followed from Koln Concert straight on through the entire decade. There were times, truth be told, when I came up against music and musicians I was not prepared for. They were usually European and they were usually verging on a degree of of musical freedom I had not encountered by that point in my personal musical journey. Enrico Rava was one of them. His pieces began safe enough took a turn toward the dangerous before reaching the halfway point. Personal musical journeys being what they are - circuitous and, well, personal, I did not take any of the conventional paths to discovery (the chronological approach or the "who influenced who" method). I'm a posterboy for the india rubber ball school of learning - head in one direction, bounce off the wall in a radically different direction until I meet the next wall and then repeat the process.

Fast forward almost three and a half decades. Enrico Rava is considered a national treasure in Italy. He’s recorded dozens of albums. He’s considered a star world wide and for good reason: he’s an outstanding improvising musician. Here is proof.

The concert here is from a recent performance (Feb. 1, 2009) in Rome recorded by Italian National Radio. Rava is accompanied by fellow countryman Stefano Bollani on piano, and Americans Michael Blake on tenor sax, Larry Grenadier on bass and Jeff Ballard on drums. There is a bit of Italian at the end by the radio announcer but other than that it’s pure music… There are several tunes that were named “unknown” by the uploader so if anyone can figure out what they are let me know. Here’s how it plays out: 1. Lulu (15:59); 2. Luna Urbana (17:21); 3. “unknown (21:44); 4. Interiors (Lost Birds) (17:46); 5. bass solo (4:09); 6. “unknown” (16:04); 7. “unknown” (6:35); Thank You Come Again (20:44)

Look for part 2 very soon!

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