Enrico Rava

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Enrico Rava

Let me start off by saying that I hadn’t heard of Enrico Rava until this interview came about, so I madly googled the hell out of him, and I’m a little disappointed that it took me this long to discover such an amazing jazz musician. I must admit I consider myself a bit of a music novice, so I felt a tad guilty – until I read that Enrico himself had no idea who Michael Jackson was prior to his death! (For the record, Enrico is now a massive fan).
That’s just one of the fascinating facts I discovered about Enrico. I would have liked to discover more but interviewing over a bad line to Rome makes for one interesting conversation. One thing it demonstrated, besides my terrible internet connection, is that Enrico Rava knows his sound, giving me an in-depth description of tone, depth and pitch of what he was hearing across the line. Fortunately we were able to have a good chat about his upcoming visit to perform at the Wangaratta Jazz Festival, and he is very excited about his trip Down Under, saying that he is “very happy to visit for the first time in [his] life”. He is also excited that his lovely wife will be accompanying him – albeit a little disappointed to only be here for the duration of the festival as he fears he may not have much time to sightsee.
Although this will be Enrico’s first visit to Australia, he does have a connection to Australia. He played alongside the students and teachers of Monash University last year when they were visiting Italy, mentioning that they were “very very good”, a true compliment to some of Australia’s student jazz musicians.
Enrico was first inspired to play the trumpet when he heard Miles Davis as an 18-year-old and by the 1960s he was beginning to receive a lot of attention. Now Enrico is the most successful Italian jazz musician of all time. Despite all of this talent Enrico had humble beginnings and attributes, much of his confidence and “self-belief” indebted to Gato Barbieri, the famous Argentinian saxophonist and composer. Enrico says that “Gato Barbieri changed [his] life at the beginning of his career”. Steve Lacy, the late jazz saxophonist, is one of the other musicians who inspired Enrico early on and “opened every door for [him] in the way of [his] career”. Although they are both highly regarded to Enrico, he humbly admits that “every musician you play with gives you something”.
As the Wangaratta Jazz Festival nears, Enrico says that he is most looking forward to playing with the students of Monash University again as he has such fond memories of the last time. He is also very excited to be playing alongside his fellow Italian jazz musicians. Festival-goers are in for a real treat when Enrico hits the stage. On Saturday he will play in a quintet with pianist Paul Grabowsky, saxophonist Mirko Guerrini, bass player Frank DiSario and Niko Schauble on drums. Sunday everyone will see a union 18 years in the making when Enrico plays alongside Niko Schauble’s band Papa Carlo. This collaboration was scheduled all the way back in 1996 for the Wangaratta Jazz Festival but was cancelled due to a delay in processing Enrico’s visa.
Well, despite the terrible connection we got there in the end. It might not have been the most seamless of interviews but I felt pretty privileged to chat with such an incredible artist whose career has lasted over five decades. I would highly recommend getting on down to Wangaratta to hear him play, and if you can have a chat to him. Talking to him feels as if it’s good for the soul.
When&Where: Wangaratta Jazz Festival – October 31 to November 3
By Montana Agustin