2008

 



Enrico Rava
(Italy)

Adieu Tristesse and Bonjour Trieste!, at least for the time being, because the moment has come to honor a very special musical personality: Enrico Rava, the trumpeter-composer born in 1943 in Trieste. Rava, who is this year's winner of the European Jazz Award, began his musical career at the age of 18. As an Italian in New York, his sound was molded by the rapid revolutionizing of jazz in the 1960s. His passion for the avant-garde grew through playing with the likes of Steve Lacy, Roswell Rudd, Don Cherry, Charlie Haden and Gunter Hampel and, like anyone else who has played with Cecil Taylor, he discovered the wild poetry of free jazz. Later, Rava spiced up his temperament by turning to Latin America, especially to Brazil, but he still remembered his European roots, as when he teamed up with Sardinian musicians, such as Paolo Fresu. Rava's trumpet playing, which can be equally free or lyrical and melodically-endowed, has been captured in all of its brilliance in numerous recordings under his own name, where subtle Italian, Latinamerican and American influences can also be heard. A world citizen par excellence, living alternately in America, Brazil and Italy, Rava speaks the international language of jazz in all its forms, but also integrates local musical dialects. With playful ease, he transcends the boundaries between jazz, classical and folk music, whereby he considers the Italian opera to be the true folk music of his own country. If Apulian bandas could play operatic melodies on the street corner, then Enrico Rava could do his own renderings of Puccini and Bizet's Carmen in his own melodic tones. In this spirit, he has devoted various albums to Italian opera, as well as to his declared jazz models: Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, Chet Baker and Miles Davis. Tirelessly crossing all frontiers, Rava has toured Asia with his Free Big Band and has undertaken a host of band projects with Harry Pepl, Dino Saluzzi, Ray Anderson, Albert Mangelsdorff, Lee Konitz, Gato Barbieri, Alexander von Schlippenbach and Barney Wilen. As an accomplished leader in his own right, he is known to give clear direction to his players while leaving them ample room for self-expression and interaction. The lines that he himself plays, mostly in the mid-range, are never simplistic, but display a lyrical clarity, certainty and swing. Taken together, this is more than enough for his sovereign status as a band leader to be confirmed. Due to his classical cultivation, sensual curiosity and intellectual integrity, his music has opened itself to the art and film worlds, much to the delight of Bernardo Bertolucci, Michelangelo Pistoletti, and of course his public. Through his music, Enrico Rava has gathered all the riches in artistic life that you could ask for, yet the European Jazz Award is not simply a recognition of a musician's life's work, of past achievements; it is an award for a living artist who holds creative promise for the future. This prize has therefore been awarded to this man from Trieste, in recognition of his astounding accomplishments in the current year: for his latest album New York Days (ECM) and the new release of his 1999 duo-album Duo en Noir (between the lines).With these albums he has once again bridged the transatlantic gap between European music and Afroamerican jazz and has further displayed the knowledge he has gained over the decades as a composer, as well as his own sensual corporeality as a trumpeter. All of this is as admirable as it is prize-worthy, and not the least bit sad, because it opens horizons onto a musical world that makes unity out of diversity, with the productive tension that this brings. This musician from Trieste, a worldly man, not just a past phenonemon, but one oriented towards the future, is someone we will continue to hear from, and this, which began in a Trieste port in the year 1943, is what we praise and honor today. (Harald Justin)

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