Wild Dance features the meeting of famed Italian trumpet master Enrico Rava's recent quartet, which includes guitarist Francesco Diodati, double bassist Gabriele Evangelista, and drummer Enrico Morella, along with veteran trombone player Gianluca Petrella. Harking back to his '70s ECM releases with John Ambercrombie, Rava again chooses to record with a guitarist rather than a pianist, as Diodati adds some stunning colors and textures to the music on Wild Dance that are instantly apparent on the opening number "Diva".
"Space Girl" also succeeds not only on the presence of lush, melodic chords & fills from the guitarist, but with plenty of soaring trumpet lines from the leader as well as thunderous rhythms. Both horn players weave around each other on the groove laden "Don't", and the upbeat and highly raucous "Infant" sees intricate rhythms underpinning some bleating horn blasts and menacing guitar chords. Evangelista is on his own during the lovely "Sola", and the full band blend traditional as well as free jazz on the yearning title track. The upbeat "F. Express" sounds exactly as you might expect it to, with tricky & engaging melodies, a pattern they continue on with the complex "Cornette", complete with rumbling double bass, dueling horns, and distorted, jagged guitar lines that recall Robert Fripp or Terje Rypdal. Another noteworthy track is the expansive, mournful "Overboard", as the ensemble slow down and really stretch out the melodies. The pace however picks right back up for the frenzied "Happy Shades", as blazing guitar & horn lines try to match each other note for note, eventually give way to an acrobatic drum solo and then speedy bass runs. Easily the most jaw dropping piece here from a technical perspective. Just when you thought it couldn't get any more exciting, the group get their funk on for the groove laden "Frogs", a real blast of enticing sounds (including a wild, Pat Metheny inspired guitar solo) to close out this highly enjoyable album.
Wild Dance is easily one of the most varied and satisfying release I've heard coming from the ECM roster this year, and that's really saying something considering the consistent high quality of product they normally deliver. Whether you favor classic jazz sounds, fusion, chamber, or avant-garde, there's a little something for everyone here, so dive in, and go deep.
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2) Space Girl
6) Not Funny
7) Wild Dance
8) F. Express
11) Happy Shades