Ernesto Cervini Quartet Little Black Bird

Drummer Ernesto Cervini plays with such conviction and fire that it's easy to give him your ears and time. His music makes for a worthwhile investment of both. Crisp cymbal work, punchy toms and impeccably timed snare shots power his limber trio. "Jimmy Rey" features fluid interaction between Cervini and pianist Andrean Farrugia, their back-and-forth gestures breathtakingly quick. Perhaps brought in as a ringer, saxophonist Joel Frahm is definitely dexterous, nimbly negotiating Cervini's demanding compositions with ease. But his technical proficiency results in a sameness of approach to the diverse tunes and an unfortunate lack of emotional resonance in his contributions, unlike that of the other three players, who come off as more engaged with the leader's tunes. "On Being Grand," a gentle waltz dances with grace. The knotty "Seven Claps," in what feels like 10/4, is a showstopper, with Frahm on soprano and Farrugia on electric piano, with everybody really digging in. Little Black Bird bears repeated listening. (Orange Grove)