Enrico Rava - Musician of the world


In the years of the "Dolce Vita" a young Enrico Rava stayed in Rome in a furnished room near Via Sistina; plays regularly at the "Purgatorio", a jazz club housed in a basement of the famous restaurant "Meo Patacca" in the Trastevere district, together with the Argentine saxophonist Gato Barbieri, the pianist Franco D'Andrea, the drummer Gegé Munari and the double bass player Gianni Foccià. In 1964, the quintet participated in the recording of the soundtrack of the film "Before the revolution" by Bernardo Bertolucci (later discarded in favor of music by Ennio Morricone and Gino Paoli) and, just a year later, to that of the film "A beautiful grit", by director Giuliano Montaldo. In 1966 the trumpeter, together with the American saxophonist Franco Fayenz and Enrico Cogno, leaves the capital to leave for Argentina, to stay there for a whole year. In the South American country he artistically falls in love with the traditional tango of Osvaldo Pugliese, without neglecting the mingling with the jazz of new tango by Astor Piazzolla. Furthermore, during your stay in Argentina you have the opportunity to meet the Argentine writer Ernesto Sabato and to deepen your interest in the literary works of Adolfo Bioy Casares and Jorge Borges.

Later settling in New York Enrico Rava comes into contact with a musical world hitherto only imagined. The trumpeter tells-”When I moved to New York I suddenly found myself playing with those musicians who until recently had been my idols. In a short time I fully entered the American and European avant-garde scene of characters like Carla Bley and Cecil Taylor”. During his stay in the Big Apple, the trumpeter returns regularly to Buenos Aires, the city where his wife Graciela (cousin of Gato Barbieri's wife, Michelle) remained to work. This passionate attendance of Argentina will continue until 1976, when the country's political situation will precipitate due to the rise of the dictatorship of General Videla.

When Enrico Rava returns to Rome in 1968, to perfect the practices of residing in the United States, he finds a city in which many things have changed: the years of Fellini's nights in Via Veneto are now over and the capital breathes a climate of strong protest , with a succession of demonstrations, riots and harsh clashes between students and the police, in the context of a complicated change in the country's social and political order. The trumpeter stays in the apartment of his friend Marcello Melis in Trastevere, at the same time attending the jazz club Franco Fayenz and Enrico Cogno by Pepito Pignatelli, of which the trumpeter recalls – “Pepito was a central figure for Roman and Italian jazz in general, especially for us kids who were taking our first steps at that time. The Music Inn was uncomfortable, due to too much humidity the piano was always out of tune, as well as the other instruments, moreover the acoustics were really terrible. But despite that, we young musicians were there every night. The presence of Pepito and his wife Picchi was enough for us, they were the ones to light up that small place".

A few years later, in 1972, Rava returned to Italy from the United States for a series of concerts - "There was great resonance in the newspapers for the series of concerts I held in Milan and Turin" - tells - "it depended on the fact that in that period I was doing unusual things: I was the only Italian jazz player and one of the few Europeans, apart from Joe Zawinul and Miroslav Vitous, to reside in New York. This had a great echo both in Italy and in France. We must also consider the fact that, at the end of the seventies, free jazz found a lot of space in the newspapers because it identified itself in the union between jazz and certain left-oriented politics. This has allowed musicians like me or Giorgio Gaslini, for example, to be known in the media even outside the strictly jazz circuit. It seems strange, but for those of our generation it was easier to carve out a certain media visibility compared to today's musicians. One of the main reasons underlying the current situation in Italy is to be found in the fact that, while iconic figures of Italian jazz like me still benefit from the visibility accumulated over the years, musicians in their thirties or younger pay the price for the lack of attention from of newspapers and the media, remaining in the majority of cases eternal promises”.

During the tour in Italy, Enrico Rava crosses his path with a young talent from the Roman jazz scene, Massimo Urbani. Impressed by his way of playing, the trumpeter decides to let him join the group that accompanies him in some concerts scheduled for the Italian dates, to then convince himself to take him with him to New York for two weeks of concerts in the clubs of the city and in a American TV show. Between 1977 and 1979 Massimo Urbani he also joined the formations with which Rava performed in Europe: the quintet with Bobo Stenson, Palle Danielsson and Jon Christensen and the quartet with Aldo Romano and J.F. Jenny Clark.

Speaking of Massimo Urbani the trumpeter recalls – “Despite his personal problems with me he always tried to be punctual. He never gave me a "package", as sometimes happened with other colleagues. I learned of his death while I was in Vienna for the recording of an album. When I went to the newsstand in Piazza della Cattedrale di Santo Stefano to pick up the newspaper, I was struck by the title of an article that spoke of the sudden death of a Roman saxophonist. So I learned of the fact that Massimo was gone” – and keeps going – “pUnfortunately, I have very few photos of that extraordinary period. When I left New York, I even left my entire record collection at a friend's house, intending to come back for it. I never did it! that's how it is when she travels the world and moves often. I'm not nostalgic, the past is the past”.

Paolo Marra


External links:

Enrico Rava Official Site
Enrico Rava and Massimo Urbani in concert – Teche RAI
Steve Lacy & Enrico Rava – The Forest And The Zoo (1966)

Recent Contributions

Stay in Tune

Download Jazz Up
The app dedicated to jazz music, borne by the Jazz Department of Saint Louis, is now available on digital stores!

Discover the events and stay up to date on the latest news from the Jazz department of Saint Louis!
Playings is not game

get on google play

App Store icon

powered by Saint Louis College of Musicwww.saintlouis.eu