Label/Year: Anzic Records, 2017
Lineup – Joel Frahm: tenor saxophone; Tara Davidson: alto and soprano saxophone; William Carn: trombone; Adrean Farrugia: piano; Dan Loomis: bass, Ernesto Cervini: drums.
Born and based in Toronto, Ernesto Cervini is a fluid drummer who deserves a space on the new scene. He is involved in several interesting projects that include Myriad3 and MEM3, both contemporary piano jazz trios; his own quartet - with Joel Frahm on tenor, Adrean Farrugia on piano, and Dan Loomis on bass; and Turboprop, a sextet he leads, displaying a forceful three-horn frontline.
In truth, the latter project, whose debut occurred in 2015, is an expansion of his original quartet, featuring Tara Davidson on alto/soprano saxophones and William Carn on trombone. This configuration leaves him plenty of wiggle room to arrange originals, covers, and even standards with a personal touch while squeezing the best musical qualities out of his peers.
Making use of a killer-instinct jazz as a point of departure, Rev comprises eight diversified pieces that are blistering and inspiring in its melodic/harmonic demeanors, as well as profoundly rhythmic in its instinctive drive.
With epic contortions, “The Libertine” couldn't have been a more delightful opener, comprehending varied time signatures in its multiple passages flooded with insurgent textures. Working dexterously with both hands, Farrugia, who penned the tune, combines clear melodies and sweeping gestures on the upper registers, while accompanying on the lower with dressy syncopated voicings. The following soloist, Frahm, strikes with a highly developed post-bop vocabulary over a brisk, rock-inflected groove, before flowing in parallel with Davidson for the theme’s reinstatement.
A jubilant merry-go-round of pronounced Spanish accents and Eastern folk dialects seems a good way to describe Cervini’s “Granada Bus”. Grooving in 5 and then waltzing lustfully in the B section, it feels simultaneously forward-moving and yearning. It also features a soulful solo by Davidson.
The bandleader brings another tune, precisely the one that gave the album its title. “Rev” is a blues, in the same line of Oliver Nelson’s “Cascades”, and was inspired by the sounds of traffic. It also serves as a showcase for the drummer’s energetic charges, as well as for a bass-less collective improv.
The other originals, “Ranthem” and “Arc of Instability”, were written by Loomis and Carn, respectively. The former piece stands out as a mutant folk dance, while the latter boasts an elegant sophistication and nice line conception.
The external songs, inevitably chosen from the pop/rock universe, include Blind Melon’s electro-acoustic hit “No Rain”, here transformed into a modern jazz hymn, and Radiohead’s B-side “The Daily Mail”, whose original characteristics were left recognizable, regardless the simultaneous horn-driven improvisations suffused with bluesy lines.
By rendering the beautiful standard “Pennies From Heaven”, the group honors tradition with passion, sagacity, and a genuine swinging feel, which gives the tune as much grit as glow. Dedicated to Cervini’s 1-year-old daughter, this striking arrangement by the proud dad, features Frahm in another majestic solo, this time further rooted in the bop compendium. The improvisational section is closed after Carn and Loomis made their voices heard.
Turboprop displays an enormous musical quality and the rapport between its members is unquestionable. Rev confirms Cervini as a drummer of witty accomplishment.
01 - The Libertine ► 04 - Rev ► 06 - Pennies From Heaven