Ernesto Cervini




Drummer-composer Ernesto Cervini is making a name for himself as a consummate bandleader and in-demand collaborator, praised for his deep musicality and infectious energy. Downbeat described his fluid style as one that “exemplifies ‘float like a butterfly, sting like a bee’.” Modern Drummer said: “Cervini recalls such old-schoolers as Art Blakey and Billy Higgins… It’s his robust, magnetic personality that fascinates consistently.” After releasing three quartet discs, Cervini made his latest venture a sextet album, with Turboprop released by Anzic Records in 2014. The Ottawa Citizen said: “With his fourth disc, Cervini has strikingly raised his game… With its fetching writing for horns, palpable sense of team spirit, highly focused solos and varied emotional depths, Turboprop is full of jazz pleasures.” He is also a member of Myriad3, alongside keyboardist Chris Donnelly and bassist Dan Fortin. JazzTimes called the collaborative trio “Canada’s answer to groups such as The Bad Plus and E.S.T, bearing a similar open-minded perspective and unpredictability.” Myriad3’s second album, The Where, was nominated for a Juno Award (Canada’s Grammy); and the band was also nominated for an Indie Music Award (presented by Sirius/XM Radio) for 2014 Jazz Group of the Year in Canada.

On Turboprop, Cervini and company – his usual quartet mates Joel Frahm (tenor saxophone), Dan Loomis (double-bass) and Adrean Farrugia (piano) joined by Tara Davidson (alto/soprano sax) and William Carn (trombone) – range from Charlie Parker’s “Red Cross” and Keith Jarrett’s “The Windup” to the ballad “Cheer Up Charlie” (from the film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) and Cervini’s arrangement of Debussy’s piano prelude “The Engulfed Cathedral.” Then there are the originals, including Frahm’s burner “De Molen” and five by Cervini: the ballads “Three Angels” and “Marion Theresa,” plus the upbeat “Unnecessary Mountain,” “Bindi Bop” and “Fear of Flying.”

As for Myriad3, the group has a decidedly 21st-century approach, unafraid of tight tunes and electronic accents. Having already toured Europe in the spring, Cervini, Donnelly and Fortin will play across the Atlantic again in November 2015 – and then go into the studio to make their third album, hot from the road. Reviewing The Where, Myriad3’s second release, All About Jazz offered this praise: “What makes this trio an exciting prospect is the strength-in-depth of its compositional talents. Donnelly, Fortin and Cervini are all writers with intriguing, individual styles.”

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. Having then graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Toronto (where he is now on the faculty) and a master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music (during a life-changing sojourn in New York City), Cervini has since played some of the hippest stages in North America. He has been featured as a leader and sideman at Birdland, Smalls, the Jazz Standard and 55 Bar in New York City, as well as many of the other top jazz rooms around the U.S. and all the most significant jazz clubs and festivals in Canada. He has also performed in many prestigious concert halls across North America and as far away as Yokohama, Japan.


Ernesto Cervini pictured with Herbie Hancock in 2003, the year he graduated from U of T.

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