Enrico Rava Quintet
Enrico Rava trumpet
Gianluca Petrella trombone
Giovanni Guidi piano
Gabriele Evangelista double-bass
Fabrizio Sferra drums
Giacomo Ancillotto guitar
Recorded October 2010, ArteSuono Studio, Udine
Engineer: Stefano Amerio
Produced by Manfred Eicher
Master trumpeter Enrico Rava deepened his ECM impression with the release of Tribe, a recording that places 12 original tunes on the shelf for the discerning listener’s perusal. The lineup is formidable, as Rava welcomes a reconfigured, all-Italian quintet of standby Gianluca Petrella on trombone, along with newcomers Giovanni Guidi on piano, Gabriele Evangelista on bass, and Fabrizio Sferra on drums.
“Amnesia” doesn’t so much kick as brush things off with rubato waves. It’s just the sort of easy living Rava perfected in his earlier record of the same name, a breadth of atmosphere and intention that breeds lyric after wordless lyric. Although often characterized as a “front line,” Rava and Petrella’s relationship is far more nuanced, overtaking one another as they do here like birds in practice flight. Neither needs a steady beat for guidance, and the band as a unit is content to let them float above the rhythm section’s fibrous thermals. In the title track, too, they retain a playful edge, as also in the closing “Improvisation.”
The sagacity of Tribe lies in the fact that no single theme holds its charge for too long, but instead bows to the whims of organic forces beyond even the musicians’ control. Classics like “Cornettology” provide bursts of focus within the album’s blurry terrain, but these are few and far between. Their shadows cycle through myriad rhythms, moods, and textures—each a testament to their creator’s unflagging spirit. Newer tunes are even more so inflected. Between the glorious, curry-flavored tangents of “Choctaw” and the billowing “Incognito,” Rava works the (mono)chromatic ways of his enigma with style. Guidi’s sparse pointillism is translator to the trumpeter’s code and smoothes things to the tenderest of finishes. Neither can we escape the photographic sensibilities of “Paris Baguette.” With a single click of his shutter, Rava evokes two lovers at an outdoor café, so intently locked into each other’s gaze that an oncoming storm poses no threat to their simpatico. “Planet Earth” emerges in likeminded spirit, a loving hymn to this place we call home, which despite its vagaries blossoms like this very music as a salve against the horrors we sometimes face. Here is also where Sferra shines with playing that is bubbling and spirited.
Guitarist Giacomo Ancillotto sits in with the band on four tunes, adding especial tactility to “F. Express” (reprised from its buried appearance on Opening Night) and “Tears For Neda.” With solemnity and grace, Ancillotto draws subtlest attention to himself. He compresses the power of travel into lyric balladry, drawing strings of light from earth to stars and playing the night air like the soundtrack to a dream. Two shorter pieces, “Garbage Can Blues” and “Song Tree,” round out the set with fresher feelings, burnished like cork and cherry blossom spray. The overall effect is such that any gestures of regularity glow like phosphorous in the session’s emotional mise-en-scène, leaving us with souvenirs unlike any we’ve heard before.