Ernesto Cervini’s Turboprop – Rev (2017)

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Myriad3 drummer Ernesto Cervini has been a force to be reckoned with on his own since his debut as a leader over a decade ago. He took his game up another notch with the well-received Turboprop album in 2015. Here, the Toronto-based Cervini expanded his quartet to a sextet of highly regarded Americans and Canadians to blur the lines between traditional bop and modern jazz, held together by an energy and simpatico honed by many live performances. Those same qualities are evident on the second Turboprop album, Rev (Anzic Records).

As before, Turboprop features Tara Davidson (alto, soprano sax), Joel Frahm (tenor sax), William Carn (trombone, Adrean Farrugia (piano) and Dan Loomis (bass). This band is Cervini’s vision but he gladly allows his band mates to help shape that vision; not just in the way everyone’s talents is utilized to the hilt, but also in that everyone but Davidson and Frahm contributes a tune. They’re all up the task, too. For Farrugia’s “The Libertine,” his long, flowing piano lines form a foundation that maintains the song’s continuity while Cervini’s steady swing keeps its vitality going throughout the multiple phases. “Arc of Instability” is Carn’s contribution and is the most urbane composition of the album. It’s also the place where his ample trombone chops are most apparent.

Cervini himself offers “Granada Bus,” which he previously recorded with Turboprop’s forebear, the Ernesto Cervini Quartet. It’s anchored by an ascending, repeating bass figure with the other harmonic components from the horns and piano layered on top. The rhythm is constantly shifting but Cervini makes it sound more straightforward than it really is, and Farrugia and Frahm take turns delivering hot, cliché-free solos. “Rev” is straightforward blues but that busy interaction between Carn, Davidson and Frahm is exactly the kind of stuff that made bebop so thrilling. Cervini is the only other performer for this brief track, and he takes the reigns for a the last part of it with a commanding drum exhibition.

Cervini relishes the challenge of adapting a contemporary pop tune into the jazz realm, as he does with Blind Melon’s “No Rain.” Davidson’s extended soprano sax aside gets a lift from the boundless energy coming out of Cervini’s drum kit and the uplifting melody successfully makes the transition into the jazz realm. Turboprop retraces the path Radiohead’s “The Daily Mail” from the wispy (underscored by urgent bass pleadings from Loomis) to the heavy, with Frahm leading the charge. “Pennies From Heaven” is the lone jazz standard, an earnest throwback to the old feel of jazz; the protracted saxophone harmony lines between Frahm and Davidson is an unexpected delight.

Like Turboprop’s prior release, Rev puts the fun back into jazz without watering it down. The strong rapport and vigor of Ernesto Cervini’s sextet makes their music easy to recommend.


S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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