About his band Turboprop, Ernesto Cervini observes " “although I am the band-leader, Turboprop truly feels like a collective due to the passion, commitment, and love everybody brings to each performance.” This sextet is a formidable one with some exceptional talents from Toronto and New York City: Tara Davidson on Alto and Soprano Saxophones and Flute (Toronto), Joel Frahm on Tenor Saxophone (New York), William Carn on Trombone (Toronto), Adrean Farrugia on Piano (Toronto), Dan Loomis on Bass (New York) and Ernesto Cervini on Drums (Toronto). Ms. Davidson is an addition to the personnel that was on their last recording "Rev," that I found full of "strong solo voices and first-rate ensemble work.
The present recording has a mix of 5 originals by band members (including two by Cervini) and three standards. It opens with Davidson's original "The Queen," with a slightly exotic flavor and strong solos from her and Farrugia. The pianist is also sterling on a terrific rendition of Tadd Dameron's "Tadd's Delight" which has riveting tenor sax from Frahm while Loomis and Cervini push this sterling performance along with the two trading fours. A fresh arrangement of "My Shining Hour" was derived from Geoffrey Keezer's recording with sterling ensemble playing and a shift into a Latin groove. Carn's melodic ballad playing graces the interpretation of Charlie Chaplin's classic "Smile."
Loomis' "Abundance Overture" opens with Cervini playing with his sticks before Davidson on flute and Frahm on tenor sax play a playful figure and then Cervini plays his entire kit before Loomis, Farrugia, and Carn join in for an exuberant performance. Farrugia contributed "The Ten Thousand Things" which opens with Loomis bass in addition to the composer's far-ranging piano solo followed by Frahm's fiery tenor sax.
Cervini contributed the final two compositions. "Gramps" is a lovely ballad dedicated to his late grandfather and has Davidson's charming, graceful alto saxophone set against an exquisite ensemble arrangement. The closing "For Cito," dedicated to the former Toronto Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston, is a robust performance with imaginative solos from Carn and Farrugia and fresh, creative arrangements.
As on "Rev," Turboprop impresses with their tight ensemble playing; inventive, fresh arrangements, and impressive soloing. The result is this striking recording.
I received my review copy from a publicist. This review appeared in the March-April 2019 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 383), although I have made corrections and minor changes. Here is a video of Turboprop playing.