Enrico Rava’s ‘Edizione Speciale’ Is An Enjoyable Addition To This Year’s Field Of New Live CD Recordings

Courtesy: ECM Records

Veteran jazz musician Enrico Rava is giving audiences a special early Halloween treat of sorts.  It came Friday in the form of his new live recording, Edizione Speciale.  The six song recording was captured in 2019 at the annual Jazz Middleheim Festival in Antwerp, Germany.  The concert runs just over an hour (64 minutes to be exact).  It stands out in large part because of its featured set list.  This will be discussed shortly.  The performance thereof is also worth noting and will be examined a little later.  The recording’s production rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the recording.  All things considered, they make Edizione Speciale one of the most unique but still enjoyable live CD presentations so far this year.

Enrico Rava’s new live recording, Edizione Speciale, is a welcome addition to this year’s field of new live offerings.  That is proven in part through its featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements – technically eight in all counting the medley pieces – are mostly originals that Rava composed for his solo albums and those released under the moniker of the Enrico Rava Quartet.  There are two covers in the set, however.  They come in the form of Osvaldo Fares’ ‘Quizas, Quizas, Quizas’ and the Micheal Legrand/Eddie Barclay/Eddie Marnay song, ‘Once Upon a Summertime.’  The originals reach as far back as 1978 in the form of ‘The Fearless Five’ (taken from the Enrico Rava Quartet’s self-titled album) and from as recent as 2015’s Wild Dance.  It would be incorrect to call the set list career spanning.  At the same time, though, it does give at least something of a cross section of Rava’s catalog.  It is enough to create a sense of interest in the minds of more casual audiences just as much as those who might be more established but still somewhat unfamiliar with Rava’s expansive body of work.  To that end, the set list presented here is a positive in its own right.

On a related note, the performance of the featured set list is also a positive worth noting.  The performance of the show’s set list is important to examine because of the relaxed sense exuded by Rava and his fellow musicians.  Right from the concert’s outset, ‘Infant,’ Rava and company establish an upbeat energy that is still somewhat relaxed at the same time.  The energy in Rava’s performance on trumpet and the sudden incorporation of what sounds like a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Foxy Lady’ (to a point) and back to the original composition is so fluid.  At the same time, the energy in it and makes it a surprise and still so enjoyable.  The whole is just so light and relaxed but so energetic.  It truly is a great example of how the group’s performance makes the experience so engaging and entertaining.  On a separate note, the juxtaposition of the more chaotic elements and more relaxed elements of ‘The Fearless Five’ together makes for its own interest.  Even through it all, the group maintains control, giving the perception of controlled chaos throughout.  It shows so much focus but still so much enjoyment by all involved.  It is yet another example of what makes the group’s performance so surprisingly enjoyable.  Much the same can be said of the performance of ‘Quizas, Quizas, Quizas’ that has already been noted of both songs examined here.  Enrico Morello’s subtle time keeping with what sounds like rods or brushes works alongside Rava’s work on trumpet and Gabriele Evangelista’s work on double bass to make this performance so enjoyable both by itself and in comparison to its source material.  The joy from the band can be so easily felt in listening to the song, even in an audio-only platform.  Yet again, audiences have a prime example of how the group’s performance plays its own key role in the album’s presentation.  When this is considered along with the concert’s set list, the two elements give audiences more reason to take in this concert at least once.  They are only a part of what makes the recording worth hearing.  The production thereof rounds out the concert’s most important items.

The production of Edizione Speciale is important to address because of its role in the recording’s general effect.  The production ensures that the size of the venue (which is unknown to this critic) was clearly taken into account in terms of its acoustics.  Audiences can hear the openness of the venue without the loss of any audio from Rava and company.  That balance even includes hearing the most subtle audience noise during the performances and even the applause after the performances.  Even in regardless to the performances themselves, each musician’s performance is balanced with one another.  The result there is that each instrument’s part is just as highlighted as that of his/her counterparts.  The whole makes the performance’s production solid and worthy of applause throughout the concert.  It essentially gives listeners the best seat in the house in this case.  When this is considered along with the importance of the concert’s set list and the performances thereof, the whole of this concert makes it one of the year’s top new live CD presentations.  That is versus live Blu-ray and DVD presentations since it was not released on those audiovisual platforms.

Enrico Rava’s new live recording, Edizione Speciale, is a work that his established audiences will find enjoyable just as much as casual jazz fans.  That is proven in part through its featured set list.  The set list is important to note because while not necessarily career-defining, it still gives audiences a respectable cross section of the Rava’s overall body of work.  The performance of the set list adds to the recording’s appeal because of the energies and balance thereof in each song’s performance.  It is clear in each song’s performance that Rava and company had so much fun.  That will lead audiences to feed off of that positive energy and enjoy the concert that much more.  The recording’s production rounds out the most important of the concert’s elements.  It ensures all of the audio elements are expertly balanced, thus putting the final touch on the whole.  Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of the recording.  All things considered, they make Edizione Speciale one more of this year’s top new live CD recordings.

Edizione Speciale is available now through ECM Records.  More information on the album is available along with all of Rava’s latest news at https://www.facebook.com/enricoravamusic.  

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