Enrico Rava trumpet
Dino Saluzzi bandoneón
Harry Pepl guitar
Furio Di Castri bass
Bruce Ditmas drums
Recorded October 1986 at Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg
Engineer: Martin Wieland
Produced by Manfred Eicher
Before the title of Volver (Spanish: to return; to come back) graced Pedro Almodóvar’s colorful 2006 film, it found a home two decades previously on the cover of this most intriguing date from bandoneón master Dino Saluzzi, who joins the roving Enrico Rava Quartet. Harry Pepl starts things off right with a plaintive guitar in “Le But Du Souffle,” providing a yielding surface for Saluzzi to carve his ethereal shapes. Add to this the earthbound bass of Furio Di Castri and Rava’s heavenly blowing, and you get a formula for pure sonic bliss. This typically rubato ECM intro smoothes into the jaunty territories of “Minguito,” which form a unique sound brought to fervent life by Bruce Ditmas at the kit. After a killer thesis statement, Rava draws from a single note an ever-flitting butterfly of a solo. Pepl follows in his wake with effervescence, plowing that same field of perpetual energy before Saluzzi arcs forward with the album’s most resplendent solo. The rhythm section builds to fervor underneath him, as if pointing fingers skyward in want of flight. “Luna-Volver” is a lilting piece for bandoneón alone, which in this resonant space develops like a sepia-tinted photograph, a tender prelude to the ecstatic expression of audible love in “Tiempos De Ausencias.” A slab of free jazz awaits us in “Ballantine For Valentine,” which from a wrenching Bill Frisell-like guitar throws delicious textures to the wind before the dark spiral of “Visions” catches the light of finality as if on a glassine edge.
The band gives plenty of space to contemplate each section, taking long, deep breaths between solos. Like a tree, the results maintain rootedness, no matter how high they climb. Rava is the sap through its veins, Saluzzi the sunlight in the branches. The two make for quite a pair, and it’s a shame they never conversed more often. My only caveat is the mid-heavy production. While normally I like being drowned in reverb, in this case it’s just a bit too plush for its own good. It obscures some of the finer gradations of the musicianship and forces a final fadeout into premature silence.
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