Enrico Rava Quintet: The Words And The Days (ECM 1982)

The Words and the Days

Enrico Rava Quintet
The Words And The Days

Enrico Rava trumpet
Gianluca Petrella trombone
Andrea Pozza piano
Rosario Bonaccorso double-bass
Roberto Gatto drums
Recorded December 2005 at Artesuono Recording Studio, Udine, Italy
Engineer: Stefano Amerio
Produced by Manfred Eicher

The Words And The Days follows Easy Living, which marked the studio return of Italian trumpeter Enrico Rava after a 17-year hiatus. More than the continuation of a comeback, it constitutes a self-contained entity with its own dreams. It is only natural, then, that the title tune should flow like a soundtrack to those dreams. Verdant and sincere, it hangs, as might a contended hand over the side of a boat, cutting a path through the water. Rava seems to paint that vessel’s wake while the intuitive drumming of Roberto Gatto renders every glint of sun thereafter with photorealistic detail. Yet despite these sundrenched beginnings, where Easy Living was warm and fuzzy all over, we generally encounter a cooler sound in this mostly Rava-penned program.

Gatto and bassist Rosario Bonaccorso hold fast to their formidable dual role, at once supportive and pace-setting. Rava is happy to follow wherever they may lead, with often-joyful results. In “Secrets,” for instance, some of his formative Brazilian influences jump from the woodwork. Meanwhile, trombonist Gianluca Petrella puts his enigmatic stamp of things. Although his language can be fiercely chromatic, this time around he moves under the table in search of forgotten crumbs. He works a quiet magic in the Russell Freeman standard “The Wind,” engendering a chain of lilting calls, while in “Serpent” he preens his feathers to the tune of a slick, rubato synergy. Most of that synergy he shares with Rava, reigning clearest in “Art Deco,” a three-minute duet that crosses the straight and the curved and pays tribute to its composer, the great Don Cherry. Petrella and Rava trade more brass arrows in Gatto’s “Traps,” evoking a big band on an intimate scale, balancing the pans with its breezy concentration. As a player, Gatto’s adaptive panache figures centrally in “Bob The Cat.”

Pianist Andrea Pozza, replacing Stefano Bollani from the last session, marks a shift in the group’s sound. His reflective approach adds monochromatic atmospherics to “Echoes Of Duke,” taking the session’s feet from its picturesque murk and washing them anew with a more classically rendered style. Rava digs deepest on this expedition, unearthing a plethora of finely preserved artifacts. In this regard, the bandleader excels highest when he is cut loose, as in the cinematic veils of action and soft-focus drama of “Tutù” and the stretch of empty road that is “Todamor,” which unrolls its horizon after a viscous monologue from Bonaccorso entitled “Sogni proibiti” (Forbidden dreams). Although unpopulated, that horizon is filled with stories. Rava is confident behind the wheel in taking us there, navigating an echoing corridor with superb control of every gear. And as he pulls us into the driveway of “Dr. Ra And Mr. Va,” of which the strangely somber exterior only thinly veneers a fiery heartbeat within, it is clear that the journey has only just begun.

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