Cervini is a Toronto based drummer and his second album leading his group ‘Turboprop’. This is modern jazz par excellence with the material a well-balanced mix of originals, a couple of pop songs together with a ‘standard’ from the Great American Song Book added to the mix for good measure. The group is a six-piece ensemble consisting of alto and tenor saxes, trombone and the familiar piano, bass, drums rhythm section. With the exception of tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm, all the participants are unknown to me, but all certainly acquit themselves in excellent fashion. Along with playing drums, Cervini contributes memorable tunes and accessible arrangements.
The leader sets out his stall early on with a percussive introduction to the opening track ‘The Libertine’. This piece really comes alive during the middle section of the tune. After the theme statement there is an unexpected change of tension when pianist Adrean Faruggia builds a complex solo from a very simple initial statement, the excitement continues to build as Frahm constructs his own passionate solo statement.
‘Granada Bus’ opens with a compelling bass figure from Dan Loomis before Tara Davidson enters with the attractive theme statement on soprano saxophone and is soon joined by her fellow saxophonist and trombonist William Carn. It’s then back to Davidson for a superb solo statement on what has by now become a high energy piece of music.
‘No Rain’ from the band Blind Melon, ushered in by the drummer who is soon joined by bass and piano before Davidson is back weaving more magic on soprano saxophone. ‘The Daily Mail’ from the repertoire of Radio Head no less, is in marked contrast to what has come before, a contemplative but no less intense ballad with the bassist taking centre stage. The heat builds once again when the rest of the ensemble join the fray.
Next up is something of a surprise – the old standard ‘Pennies from Heaven’ from 1936 with exquisite soloing from Frahm – and what a wonderful and fun arrangement. The frontline soli is a standout of the album for me. Here, the sextet comes on almost like a conventional big band. This is a far cry from how Bing Crosby introduced the song in the film of the same name.
Another outstanding piece is the lengthy ‘Arc of Instability’ The tempo here is pitched somewhere between the ballad performances and the more up tempo pieces and yet still manages to build up a head of steam.
Of the eight compositions on the album, all but three originate from the various band members. This is an accomplished and powerful statement from a group of musicians playing with the confidence gained by performing the material for a couple of years beforehand. This album is sure to cement the reputation already built by the band’s debut. Let us hope that we get to hear a third instalment in the not too distant future.