Rava, Hersch Offer An Interesting Record In ‘The Song Is You’

Courtesy: ECM Records

Flugelhorn player Enrico Rava has been producing recordings for ECM Records since 1970.  His catalog with the label totals 15 records and reaches as far back as 1975 and as recent as 2021.  On Friday, Rava released his 16th record with the label in the form of The Song is You.  His 48th overall album as a band leader, it sees him joined this time by pianist Fred Hersch for a group of covers and originals that is worth hearing at least once.  Among the most notable of the covers is that of George Bassman and Ned Washington’s ‘I’m Getting Sentimental Over You.’  This song will be discussed shortly.  Among the most notable of the originals is ‘The Trial.’  It will be examined a little later.  The duo’s cover of ‘Round Midnight’ is another interesting update featured as part of the record’s 42-minute body and will also be examined later.  All three songs noted do their own respective part to make The Song Is You an interesting presentation.  When they are considered along with the record’s other entries, the whole makes the record a presentation that most jazz fans will find worth hearing at least once.

The Song is You, the new album from the pairing of Enrico Rava and Fred Hersch, is a presentation that many jazz fans will find intriguing.  That is proven through its originals and covers alike.  Among the most notable of its covers is that of George Bassman and Ned Washington’s timeless classic ‘I’m Getting Sentimental Over You.’  While Bassman and Washington were the song’s craftsmen, the composition was made most famous by Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra way back in 1935.  That composition, led by Dorsey’s work on trombone, was (and is) a very subdued, romantic work.  The use of the piano in support of Dorsey’s work and the eventual introduction of the clarinet line to the mix makes the song even more schmaltzy, but in the best way possible.  It really is one of those true Make-Believe Ballroom type songs (R.I.P. Jim Kelso – for any Public Radio East fans out there who go way back).  Rava and Hersch change things up slightly here, giving the song a slightly more up-tempo approach.  The clarinets and other elements incorporated into the original are gone, replaced by just the duo’s own work.  The result is a song that is longer than the original at almost six minutes (five minutes 55 seconds to be exact) but is still enjoyable in its updated take that balances nicely the source material with updated content.

While Rava and Hersch do quite well taking on that classic big band era tune, the duo does just as well with its original content here.  That is evidenced through the performance of ‘The Trial.’  Clocking in at six minutes, 47 seconds, the gentle, flowing composition is presented largely in a minor key and uses chromatic scales to create an interesting sense of tension throughout.  However, it does gradually progress more into a major key and more into a semi-bluesy approach as Rava joins Hersch.  Hersch leads the way here through his performance, which is more modern classical in its approach than jazz.  That is not to say that there is not a jazz leaning here.  In fact, there is the most subtle jazz touch balanced with the more classical leaning side to make for even more engagement and entertainment.  Sadly, there are no liner notes included with the album to explain the back story behind the song.  That background would have added even more interest here.  Throughout it all, the duo keeps the composition so subdued.  It forces audiences to engage themselves in the song in order to fully appreciate the work.  That could be a good or bad thing depending on the listener.  Regardless, the song holds its own alongside the record’s other works, showing just how much the record’s original content does for the album’s presentation.

One more notable addition to this record is another of its covers.  In this case, the cover is that of ‘‘Round Midnight.’  Crafted collectively by pianist Thelonious Monk, trumpet player Cootie Williams and conductor Bernie Hanighen, the original song clocks in at three minutes, 48 seconds.  The simple composition features Monk on piano, pairing a steady bass line on one hand with a light almost bop type melody on the other.  Hersch meanwhile takes the song in a much more subdued direction.  His approach to the song gives it an almost entirely new identity separate from its source material that really does require audiences to engage themselves in the work in order to appreciate Hersch’s work.  That could prove divisive for certain, but the song is still interesting regardless.  It is one more cover worth taking in, and when considered along with the other covers and originals, shows even more why this collection of songs is worth hearing at least once.

The Song Is You, the latest new studio offering from flugelhorn player Enrico Rava and pianist Fred Hersch, is an intriguing presentation.  That is proven through its blend of originals and covers.  The songs examined here do well to make that clear.  When they are considered along with the record’s other entries, the whole makes the presentation overall worth hearing at least once.

The Song Is You is available now through ECM Records.  More information on this and other titles from ECM Records is available at:



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