Easy Living: My Favorite Enrico Rava Album

Enrico Rava

In my previous post on Enrico Pieranunzi I was asked about other Italian artists I like, and José in his comment listed among others Enrico Rava. This is what triggered this blog post.

Well, first of all, my initial answer is that Rava has a beautiful sound, a very soft, dreamy voice, that I really like.

With regards to his recorded albums, I’m more torn, as I don’t have a single album with Rava in the lead of which I love every single track. I’ll explain further below why.

That said, without doubt Rava is one of the leading figures of the Italian Jazz scene.

I have about 10 albums of Rava in my collection, and would like to present here what overall is my favorite Rava album: Easy Living

Easy Living (ECM 2003)

Why this particular album?

Well, first of all, Easy Living is one of my favorite standards (I originally fell in love with Sarah Vaughan singing it). And Rava does a gorgeous version of this song here.

Enrico Rava Easy Living ECM 2003

Second, Stefano Bollani.

I’ve previously written about him and how much I appreciate his piano playing, and he’s also one of the factors why I particularly appreciate this album. Take his solo on track 8, Hornette and the Drum Things and you’ll understand why.

Track 1, Chromosomi, is already a great start. It sets the scene for an album that is generally meditative, dreamy, perfect for a lazy Sunday morning like this one (as I write it, it has started to snow outside, and this song sounds like the perfect soundtrack for watching the  falling snowflakes).

Now to explain, as already mentioned above, what I don’t like about certain Rava songs, let’s take the example of Traveling Night (track 7). I’ve written time and time over again, how much I need melodies. My brain is just wired that way.

I actually like Rosario Bonaccorso’s bass solo, and then Roberto Gatto and Stefano chiming in the same mood. But then I get lost in rhythmic and harmony changes, and my little brain never finds its way out again, it just feels to random.

I’ve had this discussion with Jazz musicians, and for some of them, when it gets more random and adventurous, this is when music really starts getting interesting, for some others, this is when it starts to lose interest. I’m not arguing quality here, but just personal preference.

One special thing to mention on this album is the beautiful complementarity between Rava and Gianluca Petrella on trombone.

This album is recorded by ECM, and therefore, as usual, the recording quality is really good.

My rating: 4 stars

You can find it here (Qobuz)

 

A Gorgeous Italo-Scandinavian Trio – Stefano Bollani’s Stone In the Water

You’ll probably have noticed by now my obsession with piano trios in Jazz.

The piano trio form in Jazz clearly comes from the US. I’ve already written about the 3 giants, Keith Jarrett, see here and here, Oscar Peterson, see here, and the obvious Bill Evans (see here).

However, these days many of my favorite trios seem to be European.

Three hotspots emerge:

  • Germany: I’ve written about Triosence (see here), Edgar Knecht (see here), and Michael Wollny (see here), more to come
  • Scandinavia: The obvious Esbjörn Svensson Trio, but also Helge Lien (see here) and several others I yet have to write about
  • And finally, Italy: Giovanni Mirabassi (see here) (although he mainly lives in Paris now), and the Alboran Trio (see here) have both been mentioned in my 25 Essential Jazz albums. A reminder to self: I absolutely need to write about the brilliant Enrico Pieranunzi

I just listened to the album below recently again, and felt the urge to write about a very nice mixture of Scandinavia and Italy here.

Stefano Bollani

Bollani enrolled at the local conservatory in Florence to learn the piano at the tender age of 11. He played quite a lot with Enrico Rava, an excellent Italian trumpet player. He also has recorded quite a bit with other big names in Jazz as well.

Bollani even released a recording of Gershwin’s piano concerto with Riccardo Chailly and the Gewandhaus, no less (on Decca). The latter by the way is an interesting version, he takes quite some liberties on this album, but it is certainly well worth hearing. His recent duo with Chick Corea on ECM (Orvieto) is also worth checking out.

Stone In The Water (2009)

Stefano Bollani Stone In The Water ECM 2009

My favorite Bollani recording is this Italo-Scandinavian trio recording from 2009, released on ECM, where he plays with the Danes Jesper Bodilsen and Morten Lund. These two also play on his very nice 2014 release Joy In Spite of Everything (also ECM), where they are joined by Bill Frisell and Mark Turner

Stone In the Water starts very strong with Dom De Iludir, a soft, melancholic ballad, and overall this album remains in the typical ECM “house sound” of what I would describe as “delicate and nuanced”. I also very much appreciate the occasional Brazilian influences in already the first track (written by a Brazilian), but also Brigas Nunca Mais.

The interplay between the three musicians is very fine, they really listen to each other. I cannot find a single track on this album I don’t like.

In summary, sometimes, less is more.

Overall rating: 4 stars

As usual with ECM, the recording quality is outstanding.

You can download it here (Qobuz) or here (GubeMusic).