Album reviews

Enrico Rava and Fred Hersch – ‘The Song is You’

Enrico Rava and Fred Hersch – The Song is You
(ECM 4534395. Album review by Jon Turney)

A late career meeting one might not have thought of, but that immediately sounds like a good idea: trumpet and flugelhorn veteran Enrico Rava and pianist Fred Hersch came together for the first time for a short series of dates in Italy late last year, and recorded this set for Manfred Eicher immediately afterwards.

The approach is much the same in the studio as on stage, though the CD is shorter than a live show. They offer a piece by Jobim, a couple of standards, a duo improvisation, one composition each of their own, all delivered with delicious deliberation. They close with a couple of Monk tunes – a habit carried over from Hersch’s solo recitals. Indeed, after a magnificently laid-back Misterioso, the pianist plays ‘Round Midnight by himself. It’s maybe a slightly odd way to close a duo session but the result is so gorgeous that one can understand why Rava left him to it.

Indeed, gorgeous is the obvious adjective for the whole session. Both are captivatingly lyrical players, and their approaches are beautifully compatible. It feels as if the pianist’s playing comes to the fore more of the time, but decades of experience count and he knows just when to sit back and allow Rava’s gleaming soft-toned trumpet lines to float aloft with more minimal accompaniment.

It’s a musical meeting of minds that deserved to be captured on record, nowhere more so than on Hersch’s own Child’s Song. It’s the most sustained example of the feeling that pops up here and there throughout the set – of a tune that sounds beautiful played unadorned, but with judicious elaboration becomes truly exquisite.

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Jon Turney writes about jazz, and other things, from Bristol. Visit his website or Twitter.

The Song is You is released on 9 September 2022.

LINK: Pre-order the album here

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