Enrico Rava: The Plot (ECM 1078)

 

Enrico Rava
The Plot

Enrico Rava trumpet
John Abercrombie electric and accoustic guitars
Palle Danielsson bass
Jon Christensen drums
Recorded August, 1976 at Talent Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher

Like its cover, Enrico Rava’s The Plot is a storybook with much to delight our hungry eyes and ears. Its dramatis personae will be familiar to the ECM enthusiast: John Abercrombie as the guitarist, Palle Danielsson as the bassist, Jon Christensen as the drummer, and Rava himself as the trumpeter who leads them on a profoundly satisfying adventure. Our tale begins with the airy bass line of “Tribe.” Abercrombie’s restrained wails and Christensen’s splashing cymbals spread their arms wide in a loose net across the page. Rava spins outward from its center like a spider, checking every tether to make sure it is securely fastened to the surrounding flora. Only then does he jump off, held by a single lifeline, almost invisible in the air, as he soars in his improvised freefall. Rava then takes us “On The Red Side Of The Street,” where focused solos and curiosity comingle incognito. What begins as erratic reverie in “Amici” turns into a protracted groove in which Rava unleashes a most potent narrative omniscience. To this, Abercrombie adds own staccato punctuation. The next chapter introduces us to “Dr. Ra And Mr. Va.” These mysterious alter egos paint a world of black and white, but describe it with the most colorful language at their disposal. Rava’s brassy pirouettes bring lively energy to the climax, instigating an ecstatic call and response with Abercrombie. We then come to a sepia illustration, Rava’s “Foto Di Famiglia,” a duet for acoustic guitar and trumpet. A plaintive stroll through half-remembered places long since transformed by the passage of time and gentrification, it is the counterpart to “Parks” on 1975’s The Pilgrim And The Stars. A brief interlude, it is usurped by the 15-minute epilogue, from which the album gets its name. It eases into our hearts with a somber yet soulful trumpet solo against an awakening rhythm section. The synergy builds to a non-abrasive intensity, threaded by Abercrombie’s hieroglyphic chords before shifting to his fuzz box sound, careening through the night like some cosmic wayfarer whose only guides are the sounds of Rava’s winding paths. And as the final page turns to reveal its blank reverse, we want nothing more than to reread this forgotten classic immediately.

2 thoughts on “Enrico Rava: The Plot (ECM 1078)

  1. This is probably the most under-rated ECM album of all-time. It should be mentioned in the same breath with Witchi-Tai-To, Belonging, and Crystal Silence. If you can find it in any format, DO NOT HESITATE!

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