|Photo: Jim Levitt|
Ernesto Cervini is a multi-faceted person; not only does he play drums, piano, and clarinet but he also arranges, composes, is a publicist for numerous Canadian artists plus he teaches. And, apparently is an avid reader. His sister Amy (she of Duchess trio and solo albums) recommended he read the books of Louise Penny, the Canadian author best known for her series of mystery novels featuring the detective inspector Armand Gamache where much of the action is set in the fictional village of Three Pines, Quebec. Each one of the characters is finely drawn, their stories are often riveting, and the hero, while somewhat flawed, is wise and quite intelligent.
Cervini, the composer, was much taken by the series (up to 18 books now with the November 2022 publication of "A World of Curiosities
") and decided to put his impressions into music. The result, "Joy
" (TPR Music), is a fascinating melting pot of styles as the drummer creates portraits of the major characters utilizing 16 musician and vocalists (see the list below), some of who only appear on one tracks, others as many as seven. The programs ranges from the impressionistic opening track, "Three Pines
", a work that features three vocalists and atmospheric guitar over acoustic bass and drums to the slow blues of "Myrna
" that features the smoky tenor saxophone of Kelly Jefferson
and the fine acoustic bass of Artie Roth
. Pianist Adrian Farrugia
, bassist Dan Fortin
, and Cervini shine on "Sandalwood and Rosewater
" (if one gets close to Gamache, that's what they smell). Then there's the quirky blues of "Ruth's Rosa
" (Ruth is a poet, Rosa is her profane duck), a tune on which clarinetist Virginia Macdonald
plays the former and trumpeter Jim Lewis
the latter while Cervini creates clatter underneath their call-and-response. Even more fun is the "hot" swing of "Surprised by Joy
" (listen below) with its thematic bow to Keith Jarrett's "The Windup
" and smashing solos by Farrugia and Jefferson!
|Photo: Justin Van Leeuwen|
There are two solo performances in the program. First is "Clara
", a villager who is an artist and she is aurally "painted" by alto saxophonist Tara Davidson
and the second is Farrugia's solo piano portrait of the artist's husband "Peter Morrow
". These characters have a troubled relationship and one can hear a touch of dissonance in their musical portraits. In another portrait, Cervini's lively brush work supports Ms. Davidson and her husband, trombonist William Carn
, as they create a genial portrait of "Oliver & Gabri
", the owners of the village's Bistro and Bed & Breakfast.
If you haven't read the books, you should still seek out "Joy
"; the music is lively, heartwarming, tender, swinging, mysterious, and filled with fine melodies and great performances. Ernesto Cervini
, who is a fine drummer, shows off his "composerly" side and it works like a charm. As a fan of Ms. Penny's book series, I'm delighted with this excellent collection of portraits of characters I've come to admire and look forward to reading about!
Here's the opening track "Three Pines
Felicity Williams , Emilie-Claire Barlow, Amy Cervini, Alex Samaras - Vocals,
Virginia MacDonald – Clarinet, Tara Davidson – Alto Saxophone, Luis Deniz – Alto Saxophone, Kelly Jefferson - Tenor, Soprano Saxophones,
Jim Lewis – Trumpet, William Carn – Trombone,
Adrean Farrugia – Piano,
Don Scott – Guitar,
Dan Fortin - Acoustic Bass, Artie Roth - Acoustic Bass, Rich Brown - Electric Bass,
EC – Drums, compositions, arrangements
Drummer-composer Mark Guiliana wears many hats as a musician including leader, sideman, composer, arranger, and collaborator. He's worked with David Bowie, Brad Mehldau, Dave Douglas, Donny McCaslin, Lionel Loueke, and Gretchen Parlato among others. Over the course of nine albums as a leader, he's integrated electronics with acoustic music, created dance music , and played straight-ahead jazz. His 10th album, and first for Edition Records, is "The Sound of Listening" and features his "jazz" quartet composed of Shai Maestro (piano, mellotron, ampli-celeste, Fender Rhodes), Jason Rigby (tenor saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet, flute), and Chris Morrissey (acoustic bass) while the leader not only plays drums and composed all the pieces but also contributes synths, percussion, and drum programming.
Guiliana the composer asks the listener to look inside him-or-herself and to really think and feel how music can move you, can make you a better person, and even heal you. The program opens with "A Path To Bliss
", a lovely ballad introduced by Maestro's acoustic piano and electronics; slowly but surely, the bass and tenor sax enter and the melody continues to rise until Rigby plays a short solo on bass clarinet. The layers of reeds and keys soon are underpinned by Guiliana dancing over the drums and cymbals. That powerful piece leads to "The Most Important Question
" which opens on a tenor and a bass pedal point. The piano joins the melody before the bassist steps out for a short statement. The music speeds up but keeps fluctuating to different voices in the lead. The intensity draws the listener in as do the insistent rhythms.
|Photo: John Watson|
Interspersed amidst the 10 songs are four shorter compositions, two of which are fully "electronic" pieces, the longest (2:37) being the title track. One of the other short works, "A Way of Looking
", blends acoustic and electronic sounds yet it's the handsome melody that catches your ears. One of the other "shorties", "Practicing Silence
", has a loping bass line played on piano while Maestro and Morrissey play the gentle yet compelling melody.
The program closes with "Continuation", an African-inspired work that builds off of shaken percussion and prepared piano (that sounds like kalimba). All the members of the group get to play the melody, the sensuous phrases snaking over the galloping rhythms. All of a sudden, Maestro's piano steps out front (the solo sounds overdubbed)––Rigby comes back to state the melody before everyone drops out and the percussion takes the piece and the album to its conclusion. What remains in your mind is just how joyful a piece of music you just heard.
"The Sound of Listening" draws you in on its blend of rhythm, melody, and emotions. Mark Guiliana and company mix it up and keeps one's interest throughout. Dig in and really listen!