Enrico Rava
"The Pilgrim and the Stars"

The Pilgrim and the Stars

Review by Brad Walseth

This 1975 rerelease from ECM is a reminder of just how vital and revolutionary trumpeter Rava was when he first emerged on the scene. With a crack supporting cast in bassist Palle Danielsson and drummer Jon Christensen providing exuberant undulations, Rava could partake in his Miles-inspired flights of fancy. This groundbreaking sound is heightened by guitarist John Abercrombie, whose singular style adds some edginess and nearly steals the show.

The title track and "Bella" show the band in full fiery working order, while the lovely duet, “Parks” features Rava and Abercrombie at their romantic best. "Pesce Naufrago" calls to mind, Rava's later work, although Abercrombie again proves a stellar foil, who perhaps kept Rava from slipping away into the aether. "Surprise Hotel" is 1:55 of delicious mayhem, while "By the Sea" is almost a pop song. And album ender, "Blancasnow," combines Rava’s lonely matador with a flurry of cymbal crashes, drum beats and jangly guitar into a memorable climax that suddenly and inexplicitly morphs into a guitar pop song outro - beautiful!

Rava has continued to make glorious music to this day (see our review of 2007 Top-10 album, "The Word and the Days"), but there is a special vitality inherent in this youthful release from the beginning of his long and productive career. Part of ECM's Touchstone program, where out-of-print albums from the ECM catalog are resurrected, "The Pilgrim and the Stars" makes a welcome addition to any jazz collection

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