Cervini has assembled an excellent band for this stellar set of compositions. Don’t miss it.

TPRecords Ltd TPR-017-02

Ernesto Cervini (Drums), Tara Davidson (Alto Saxophone), Joel Frahm (Tenor Saxophone), William Carn (Trombone), Adrean Farrugia (Piano), Dan Loomis (Bass)

Recorded on March 20, 2022 and December 12, 2022

Ernesto Cervini is a talented musician who received a Juno award in 2019 for his outstanding music. He is proficient in playing the clarinet, piano, and drums. Besides his music career, he is also an entrepreneur who manages a jazz publicity company and a record label. Despite his busy schedule, he still performs in various bands, including a Radiohead tribute band. Additionally, he is a faculty member at the University of Toronto, where he teaches music.

This album is the fourth one by Turboprop, featuring a collection of music composed by Canadians. The album has seven songs, out of which two are original compositions by Cervini. In addition, there are two covers included – one by The Barenaked Ladies and the other by a local Toronto band called Our Lady Peace. The arrangements of the songs are designed to showcase the horns in various combinations, allowing the three horns to play as a unit, duet, or solo as needed.

Tara Davidson, an alto saxophonist, and Cervino have been making music together for thirty years, starting from their youth jazz band days. Adrean Farrugia, a pianist, has played on most of Cervino’s albums. Dan Loomis, the bassist, and Cervino play in tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm’s trio. This album features the interplay among these skilled musicians, who have developed their chemistry over an extended period, resulting in an excellent musical performance.

The song “Stuck Inside” reminded me of the horn interplay between Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh, before transitioning smoothly into a cool melody. The song features solos by the alto saxophone, trombone, and tenor saxophone. Between each solo, all three horns play together. During his solo, Frahm displays his inspirations – Johnny Griffin, Stan Getz – for the tenor saxophone. The trombone solo is relaxed and follows the rhythm section.

The song “Clumsy” is anything but clumsy. It starts with an intriguing saxophone(s) interlude, followed by a melody punctuated by alto saxophone notes. The song has a searching melody that smoothly carries one along its undertones. The song mainly features saxophone, with the trombone being noticeably quiet except in the three-horn harmony. Cervini’s drums keep the song moving forward and altering the time as the song progresses. Davidson, the altoist, turns her phrases inside out for significant effect.

Allison Au, an artist nominated for the Juno Awards, composed the track “Aureole.” The piece features a beautiful melody, with the horns taking turns soloing over the chords. At times, the horns play in harmony with each other, creating a bouquet of sound. Each solo explores different aspects of the melody, delving deeper into the aureole circle.

“The Inertia of Complacency” is a song by trombonist William Carn that showcases a restrained approach to music. Instead of going all out, the horns play off each other alone or in harmony. The trombone solo is particularly notable for its warmth and range over the horn. The alto sax then takes over, leading to a brief ensemble riff.

I recommend this very good album to anyone who loves small band arrangements. Cervini has assembled an excellent band for this stellar set of compositions. Don’t miss it.