JazzTimes 10: Landmark ECM Albums

In honor of the label’s 50th anniversary, a celebration of 10 crucial releases

8. Enrico Rava: Easy Living (2004)
One of the finest of Italian jazz musicians, trumpeter Enrico Rava led one of his finest bands in the 2000s, featuring trombonist Gianluca Petrella and pianist Stefano Bollani. Easy Living is their masterpiece. It baits the hook with Miles-esque, deliberately unfolding lyricism, then alternates the lyrical forms with challenging and harmonically dense soundscapes that feature magnificent soloing and interplay from the three frontliners. Not to be underestimated, though, is the alchemy of bassist Rosario Bonaccorso and drummer Roberto Gatto, especially when they also pull Bollani into their orbit. (On “Traveling Night,” the pianist solos in 3/4 time while they hold down a deadly earnest 4/4, creating spellbinding tension.) Rava is a sonic adventurer of the sort that ensures his stature within the ECM sphere, and there are few better examples of his brilliance than Easy Living.

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Michael J. West

Michael J. West is a jazz journalist in Washington, D.C. In addition to his work on the national and international jazz scenes, he has been covering D.C.’s local jazz community since 2009. He is also a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader, and as such spends most days either hunkered down at a screen or inside his very big headphones. He lives in Washington with his wife and two children.