Ernesto Cervini’s Turboprop ‘Abundance’ (Anzic) 4/5

The first question that came to my mind was why name your band after a turbine engine? This release from the master percussionist features his regular group of Joel Frahm on tenor saxophone, Tara Davidson on alto and soprano saxophones and flute, William Carn on trombone, Adrean Farrugia at the piano and Dan Loomis on bass. The album builds on the success of the group’s first outing, the JUNO nominated ‘Rev’. It includes three jazz standards in the collection together with original material from within the band.

The album gets its title from the gratitude that the leader feels “for the abundance of good that there is in the world” and which he is “privileged to experience every day”. ‘Abundance’ describes the purpose and feeling behind the Canadian drummer’s latest production. This is a collective effort from all involved. The opening track, ‘The Queen’, is a multifaceted piece of writing from Davidson and is full of interest, the leader’s drums ensuring the momentum of the piece. In marked contrast, the next piece is Tadd Dameron’s classic ‘Tadd’s Delight’, and is truly a delight from start to finish. Just as I thought things couldn’t get any better, along comes an intriguing arrangement of ‘My Shining Hour’. This is almost a call and response between the frontline and the rhythm section, with fragments of the tune surfacing momentarily and tantalizingly. A three-minute tour de force. After such high jinks the following track is a real gear change and is a wonderful showcase for Carn on the Charlie Chaplin tune ‘Smile’. ‘Abundance Overture’ opens with the leader showing his prowess behind the drums and he is soon joined by flute, tenor and trombone for a very engaging theme statement. Thereafter, the bassist digs deep to set up a wonderful groove. ‘The Ten Thousand Things’ opens with a magnificent bass feature, before the bassist once more sets up a hypnotic rhythm over which the frontline works its magic. This is somehow both powerful and yet intensely delicate musicianship. The feel changes again mid-way through when the pianist produces a pensive, brooding solo, eventually building in intensity until the frontline return for a turbocharged outing. Delicate brushwork from the leader introduces ‘Gramps’ before the frontline join him and we are soon treated to a thoughtfully introspective alto saxophone feature on this wonderful ballad. ‘Song for Cito’ is another fine tune with more great work from the trombonist and is a lovely way to bring the album to a close.

This is a powerfully melodic album. I particularly enjoyed the unusual voicings given to the frontline throughout. I can hear echoes of Ellington, Basie and others in the writing for this stellar ensemble. After listening to the music offered here, I now know why Cervini chose to call his group after the venerable turbine engine.

Alan Musson