Arancina is jazz pianist and composer David Restivo’s album about “meditations on home” and includes stops in Italy (Sicilian Suite), Nova Scotia (Raven’s Wing) and more metaphoric inspirations like Baby Steps (based loosely on Coltrane’s Giant Steps) and It’s You or No One (a standard which showcases his “bebop roots”). There are also two songs co-written with Fawn Fritzen (and featuring her exquisite vocals). Kintsugi and Bittersweet Goodbye originally appeared on Fritzen’s own release, How to Say Sorry and Other Lessons.
Arancina’s strengths include its originality, diversity of the works and the supportive musical family Restivo has collected to perform. Some highlights include Sicilian Suite which has four movements exemplifying different scenes inspired by travelling through that area: Train to Catania begins with a lilting and circular melody and works into some fast and nuanced keyboard gymnastics, as if the train is picking up speed. It then has a rest stop with a thoughtful bass solo from Jim Vivian before returning to the melody. Palermo Street Scenes does a great job of reflecting the busy bustle of an urban centre and begins and ends with invigorating drum solos from Alyssa Falk.
Kintsugi – the Japanese word for repairing pottery – is a beautiful meditation which delicately and poetically extends that image to describe a failing relationship and hope for an artful rebuilding of love. Restivo balances a fine jazzy solo with an accompaniment that throws in some subtle pop licks; and Restivo even provides a nice harmony vocal part. Arancina is an Italian snack which can include different combinations of ingredients, so it is an apt metaphor for this compelling collection of music and musicians.