ABOUT Ernesto Cervini
Drummer Ernesto Cervini is making a name for himself as a consummate bandleader and in-demand sideman, repeatedly praised for his deeply musical, infectiously energetic talents. Time Out New York encapsulated Cervini as “a buoyant drummer as well as a sharp composer and bandleader,” while the jazz bible, Downbeat described his fluid style as one that “exemplifies `float like a butterfly, sting like a bee’.” The drummer released There, his third album as leader of the Ernesto Cervini Quartet, in fall 2011. Reviewing the album, Modern Drummer magazine said: “Cervini recalls such old-schoolers as Art Blakey and Billy Higgins. . . It’s his robust, magnetic personality that fascinates consistently.”
Reflecting on his role as a drummer-bandleader, Cervini says it’s “more about being a drummer-composer in many ways for me. With a lot of my tunes, rhythm is the thing, but they aren’t all drum solos and pieces in 13/8. I’m not writing vehicles for my drumming prowess, or rhythm etudes. I’m trying to write engaging, involving music, whether the tune is playful or taps some deeper emotion. The time signature doesn’t define the music; the piece of music determines the rhythm. And with my band, the rhythm and time are elastic. We’re interacting with freedom, so the music flows naturally.”
There − Cervini’s first release via New York-based Anzic Records, following his albums Little Black Bird (2009) and Here (2006)− was recorded live, like some of the greatest albums in jazz history. The Ernesto Cervini Quartet features the drummer alongside saxophonist Joel Frahm, pianist Adrean Farrugia and bassist Dan Loomis. Of the recording, The Ottawa Citizen said: “On There, you can often practically hear the musicians smiling and reveling in their creativity and musical repartee. . . some superb, high-energy, spur-of-the-moment music.” A review in The WholeNote added: “Ernesto Cervini is blazing a path through contemporary jazz with smart new ideas and a burning intensity that shouts to be heard. An album that has be one of 2011’s best.”
About his vision for There, Cervini explains: “My previous album, Little Black Bird, was a studio recording, and when the band toured the material after the record came out, it was amazing to hear how the music came alive − the music was really grooving by the end of that tour. So, for the next album, I wanted to capture that vibe of new material having been honed on the road, and everything came together in Vancouver. The club was packed; so rather than playing to the walls of a studio, we were performing to a lot of people who were totally into it. You can hear us reacting to the crowd and egging each other on. Instead of the usual thing of `Wow, I wish we had recorded that gig,’ we actually got it.”
Cervini was born in Toronto in 1982, studying classical piano and clarinet before focusing his energies behind the drum kit. He graduated with a performance degree in both classical piano and clarinet from Canada’s Royal Conservatory of Music, featuring as the piano soloist in Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with symphony orchestra and playing numerous shows as a jazz clarinetist, including a tribute to Benny Goodman. Having then graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Toronto (where he now conducts masterclasses) and a master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music (during a life-changing sojourn in New York City), Cervini laid claim to a diverse musicianship, one that has taken him to some of the hippest stages in North America. As a drummer, he has been featured as a leader and sideman at the legendary club Birdland, Sweet Rhythm, the Jazz Standard and the 55 Bar in New York City, as well as the Montreal Bistro, Top Of the Senator and the Rex Jazz & Blues Club in Canada. He has performed in such concert halls as Massey Hall, Glenn Gould Theatre and St. Lawrence Center for the Arts, as well as the Sugita Theatre in Yokohama, Japan.
Given the opportunity to share the stage with legendary jazz musicians, Cervini has performed with Joe Lovano, Clark Terry, Benny Golson, Cleo Laine, Pat LaBarbera, Dick Oatts, Buddy DeFranco, Eddie Daniels, Henry Cuesta, Scott Robinson, Dave Binney, Jim McNeely, Phil Nimmons, Peter Appleyard and Ranee Lee, among others. He has opened for such star headliners as Herbie Hancock, Kenny Garrett, Roy Hargrove, Dave Holland, Roy Haynes and Poncho Sanchez. As a sideman, Cervini continues to play drums for the Amy Cervini Quintet (led by his singer sister), Strange Attractors and the four-part vocal group Monday Off. In the studio, the drummer has recorded albums with the Tara Davidson Quintet (Code Breaking, nominated for a Juno award), as well as saxophonist Hiromi Masuda (Maybe September) and Amy Cervini (Lovefool). As part of MEM3 with pianist Michael Cabe and bassist Mark Lau, Cervini recorded Pennsylvania Grey, described by The WholeNote as a “tour de force.” Cervini also co-leads the trio Myriad, with pianist Chris Donnelly and bassist Dan Fortin.
Reflecting on the ideal of the drummer-leader, Cervini says that being in the rhythm section means that he “approaches music from the inside, which has real advantages.” He adds: “I think the best drummers are sensitive about letting other players shine. My heroes are guys like Art Blakey, who was obviously one of the all-time great drummer-leaders. He was so great at discovering and featuring the incredible players and composers in his band. Tony Williams was another icon as a drummer, but he was also a great leader with his groups, from electric in the ‘70s to acoustic in the ‘80s. And these days, Matt Wilson is a huge inspiration for me as a drummer and bandleader. His music isn’t drum-centric, and it’s obvious that he’s enjoying himself − it’s infectious for everyone on the bandstand and in the audience, too. That’s the way I want to do things − I want everyone to have as much fun as I’m having up there.”
ABOUT ERNESTO CERVINI QUARTET
In just a few years, the Ernesto Cervini Quartet has earned a reputation as one of North America’s most exciting modern jazz groups. Featuring drummer-leader Ernesto Cervini, saxophonist Joel Frahm, pianist Adrean Farrugia and bassist Dan Loomis, the Quartet released the live album There in autumn 2011. Of the recording, The Ottawa Citizen said: “On There, you can practically hear the musicians smiling and reveling in their creativity and musical repartee. Some superb, high-energy, spur-of-the-moment music.” A review in The WholeNote added that the band is “blazing a path through contemporary jazz with smart new ideas and a burning intensity that shouts to be heard. An album that has be one of 2011’s best.”
There is the follow-up to the group’s sophomore album, Little Black Bird, from 2009. That disc got a four-star review in Downbeat (“exemplifies `float like a butterfly, sting like a bee’,” it said), while the praise in All About Jazz went like this: “With talent this big and music this magical, the only thing `little’ about this album is the title. Ernesto Cervini, the quartet’s leader, is a fiery, imaginative drummer and composer, and he matches wits with saxophonist Frahm and the rest of the group through excellent interplay and deep groove.”
About his vision for the live recording of There, Cervini explains: “Little Black Bird was a studio release, and when the band toured the material afterward, it was amazing to hear how the music came alive − the music was really grooving by the end of that tour. So, for the next album, I wanted to capture that vibe of new material having been honed on the road, and everything came together in Vancouver. The club was packed; so rather than playing to the walls of a studio, we were performing to a lot of people who were totally into it. You can hear us reacting to the crowd and egging each other on. Instead of the usual thing of `Wow, I wish we had recorded that gig,’ we actually got it.”
Ernesto Cervini: The Canadian drummer-bandleader, a graduate of the University of Toronto and the Manhattan School of Music, has played some of the hippest stages in North America, from New York City’s Birdland, Jazz Standard and 55 Bar to the Montreal Bistro, Toronto’s Rex Jazz & Blues Club and Massey Hall. Along with fronting his own quartet, Cervini co-leads the trios MEM3 and Myriad, as well as drums for such groups as the Amy Cervini Quintet (led by his singer sister) and vocal group Monday Off. Unlike some drummer-led bands, the Ernesto Cervini Quartet is not about “drum solos and songs in 13/8,” he says. “This is about writing engaging, involving music, whether the tune is playful or taps some deeper emotion. The rhythm and time are elastic and we’re interacting with freedom, so the music flows naturally.”
Joel Frahm: One of the most admired saxophonists on the New York scene, Frahm has made a name for himself with several albums as a leader, including Live at Smalls (2011), We Used to Dance (2007), Don’t Explain (with pianist Brad Mehldau, 2004), The Navigator (2000) and Sorry, No Decaf (1999). The Wisconsin native has also recorded numerous high-profile albums as a sideman with the likes of vocal star Jane Monheit and drummer Matt Wilson. About Frahm, Cervini says: “Joel is an incredibly gifted soloist who plays with a lot of emotion, and he isn’t afraid to take the music further. When I first heard Joel play a tune of mine, I was amazed – he took ownership of it with this combination of confidence and sensitivity that I now know is totally characteristic. Since then, he has become like family to me.”
Adrean Farrugia: Blending subtle dynamism and hard-driving swing, Farrugia has become one of Canada’s most sought-after young jazz musicians. As a leader, he has released the albums Richochet (2010) and V 1.0: Live at the Senator (2007), and he works as a pianist in the Matt Dusk Band, Quinsin Nachoff’s Rhodes Band, Brad Goode Quartet, Bob Brough Quartet, Indo-fusion band Tasa and Darcy Hepner Big Band, among others. He won a Juno Award in 2008 for best traditional jazz recording for his playing on Brandi Disterheft’s Debut. About Farrugia, Cervini notes: “Adrean and I have such sympathetic ideas about music; in fact, he was the first person I called when I put my quartet together. Adrean has an aggressive approach to the music when it’s called for that I dig – he spurs me on.”
Dan Loomis: A prolific presence as a bassist and bandleader, the New York-based Loomis leads his eponymous Quartet and co-leads collaborative projects Spoke and the Wee Trio. As a sideman, he plays with the TS Monk Sextet/Tentet and multiple other bands, appearing at the most prestigious venues across North America and Europe. The St. Louis native has released two albums with the Dan Loomis Quartet, I Love Paris (2007) and Tondos (2004); with the Wee Trio, he has released Capitol Diner, Vol. 1 (2008), Capitol Diner, Vol. 2: Animal Style (2010) and Ashes to Ashes: A David Bowie Intraspective (2011); with Spoke, he has released Spoke (2008) and Succinct (2011). About the bassist, Cervini says: “We met while living in Brooklyn and ended up playing sessions together. Dan has this strong, ideal musicianship, and he’s a really beautiful spirit, too, with the kind of enthusiasm that’s vital.”
VIDEOS FOR ERNESTO CERVINI QUARTET
MEM3 is the culmination of 8 years of close musical and personal friendship between three musicians from three different parts of the globe. The trio consists of Michael Cabe on piano from Seattle, Washington, Mark Lau on bass from Sydney, Australia and Ernesto Cervini on drums from Toronto, Canada. Their debut album Pennsylvania Grey is made up of original compositions from all three musicians as well as one traditional hymn. The group’s sound is influenced by the trio sounds of the great Oscar Peterson, Peter Erskine and EST.
VIDEOS FOR MEM3
Myriad3 was an accident. Chris, Dan, and Ernesto had never played together until a few substitutions and a twist of fate put them on stage together for the first time in late 2010. Since then, the trio has been making music in every jazz club in the Greater Toronto Area.
The band is a true collective. Each member acts simultaneously as a leader and a sideman. They play mostly original music that features different aspects of jazz improvisation, ensemble playing and contemporary composition. Myriad3 is modern jazz, meets classical, meets pop, meets Oscar Peterson.
In November 2012, Myriad3 released their debut album, Tell on Universal/Alma Records.
Three heads and pairs of hands are better than one.
That is definitely the case with new jazz trio MYRIAD3. Three in-demand young musicians on the Toronto scene have pooled their considerable talents on a joint project that has rapidly attracted serious attention. This is set to increase exponentially with the November 13th release of Tell (on prestigious label ALMA Records) that showcases a dynamic and totally refreshing new sound.
Myriad3 comprises pianist Chris Donnelly, bassist Dan Fortin, and drummer Ernesto Cervini. They'd all been aware of each other's work in various configurations on the T.O. scene, but it took a couple of happy accidents to spawn the creation of Myriad3. Donnelly recalls that "back in late 2010, Ernesto and I were on a gig together. The bassist got injured, and Dan subbed in. A few months later, Dan and Ernesto had a gig where the piano player cancelled and Ernesto called me. After that one, we looked at each other and said, 'this is a lot of fun. We should take this a little seriously and go out of our way to book gigs for each other.'"
The group's creative chemistry became instantly apparent, and Myriad3 quickly became a real priority for all three players. The fact that they have already toured nationally and completed an album in just 18 months together testifies to that commitment.
And what a debut record Tell is. It is indeed rare for a new ensemble to come up with a signature sound as quickly and compellingly as this. Defining that sound isn't an easy task, as classical and pop influences can be detected woven into its jazz-based fabric. They certainly live up to one dictionary definition of myriad: composed of numerous diverse elements or facets.
The three members of Myriad3 have quickly developed a strong personal rapport, but they come from quite different places musically. Chris Donnelly is an acclaimed pianist/composer equally at home in jazz and classical music. He was nominated for Juno and National Jazz Awards for his 2008 debut album Solo, and earned rave reviews for 2010's highly adventurous solo piano album, Metamorphosis (also an ALMA Records release). Peterborough native Dan Fortin has played both jazz and rock extensively. He has accompanied and recorded with such artists as Serena Ryder, Stop Time, The Mike Ruby Quartet, and The Alex Goodman Quintet, amongst others. Drummer Ernesto Cervini leads The Ernesto Cervini Quartet, whose two albums, 2009's Little Black Bird and 2011's live recording There, scored rave reviews from the likes of Downbeat and All About Jazz. A graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, he has worked extensively in NYC. Ernesto co-leads the trio MEM3 and frequently plays in The Amy Cervini Quintet, Strange Attractors, and The Sophia Perlman Quartet.
Fortin explains that "a neat thing about this band is that we have quite different backgrounds. On tour, we noticed we were all listening to really different music on our iPods. Often when a band forms they're all into the same thing and pursuing the same kind of sound. With Myriad3, a lot of varied styles and approaches converge, and that makes for very different music." To Donnelly, "our mandate was 'let's get together and figure something out. Just let it happen." For Chris, "the common mandate is that we want to get together, rehearse and perform. We have no idea what's going to happen, but there is something that happens when we play together that we are all really happy with."
Myriad3 is a completely democratic ensemble, making all creative and business decisions together. "We'll each bring a tune in with an idea of how the song is going to go, but then we really workshop the tunes andlet them develop," explains Ernesto. "The way a song looks like on paper when it comes into the band will rarely look like that a few weeks later. The fact there is no leader here keeps it very easy to share ideas and craft each piece collectively."
The songs on Tell take more twists and turns than the Tour de France, but they never lose melodic focus. The result is a genuinely thrilling ride. "For The Dreamers" begins as a Satie-like classically-accented piece, then gradually swells in intensity, with pounded piano and skittering drums, then returns to a peaceful conclusion. "Tell" is a sweetly reflective gem built around gently resonant bass while showcasing the strength of all three players, while the title song captures the group's wide dynamic range. The only non-original composition on Tell is the Duke Ellington classic "C Jam Blues," with the Myriad3 take veering a little closer to the Oscar Peterson version being played on a broken tape deck.
The recording process for Tell was given a huge boost by the trio's road testing of these songs prior to hitting the studio. An eight-date tour of B.C. and Alberta early this summer provided the perfect opportunity to whip their new material into shape. "We played with the recording in mind, trying to develop versions of the songs that were relatively concise," explains Fortin. "We want the songs to be flexible, allowing for longer versions in a live setting as well as five minute versions for the record. A lot of times a band has to make an album to get a tour together, but we took the best approach. As you get off the tour, you're ready to record."
To Dan Fortin, the Western tour was invaluable. "Getting to play this music eight times over ten days meant things really started to gel. We started to really hear each other's voices in the music and what each other was going for." Ernesto Cervini adds that "by playing together that much you develop a degree of trust. You get to a point with the music where you are more willing to step outside the safety net and try some different things."
Donnelly notes that "recording sessions will sometimes feel like rehearsals. For this album's recording, we were well past the rehearsal stage. We had played some of these tunes 30 times, and that makes everything a little tighter. We could focus on the recording and the composition, rather than on nailing the part."
The advantages of this process are certainly audible on Tell. The album was recorded in just two days at noted north Toronto studio The Drive Shed, and the warm and spontaneous nature of the sessions comes across vividly. Myriad3 was in very capable hands in the studio, via the experienced team of producer Peter Cardinali and engineer John 'Beetle' Bailey.
"It's a lovely room and John is a great engineer, so it was just a really nice place to work," Cervini recalls. "Peter acts as an excellent set of ears, hearing the band as a whole," adds Fortin. "As you record, there's a degree of tunnel vision where you lose perspective on a song as a whole, so he is the perfect person to have in the booth. He also has a great way of pacing the session and keeping it focused, yet loose and relaxed. It was a pretty effortless process."
The future holds a myriad of possibilities for this group. One to watch, very closely indeed.
Myriad3 n’était pas fait exprès. Chris Donnelly, Dan Fortin et Ernesto Cervini n’avaient jamais joué ensemble jusqu’a que quelques remplacements et un peu de chance les ont mis en scène, ensemble pour la première fois, a la fin de l’année 2010. Depuis, le trio joue souvent dans toutes les salles de jazz à Toronto et les alentours.
La groupe est une vraie collectif. Chaque membre participe simultanément comme dirigeant et accompagnateur. Ils jouent, pour la plupart, de la musique originale qui démonstre plusieurs aspects différents de l’improvisation et composition comtemporain. Myriad3 est de la même fois le jazz moderne, la musique classique, la musique pop, tout en étant inspiré par Oscar Peterson.
Avast! Myriad3 be an accident. Blackbeard, Guybrush, an' Captain Pugwash nereplayed together ' til wee substitutions an' a twist o' fate put 'em on stage together fer th' first time in late 2010. Aft, th' land lubbers smartly be makin' music in ever' jazz club in th' Greater Toronto Area.
Aye, th' band be a true collective. Th' mates acts ary th' same time as leader an' sideman. They play th' jigs that features aspects o' jazz improvisation, ensemble playin' an' new writin'. Myriad3 be modern jazz, be classical, be pop, be Oscar Peterson.
In Novembree 2012, Myriad3 pillaged the'r openin' album, Tell on Universal/Alma Records. Yarr!
VIDEOS FOR Myriad3
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Don Scott – lead vocals, guitar
Jessica Stuart – guitar, vocals
Harley Card – guitar
Teri Parker – keyboards
Matt Fong – bass
Ernesto Cervini – drums, vocals
VIDEOS FOR Idioteque