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Enrico Rava, Italy's Gift to Jazz

Jazz saved Enrico Rava's life. That's what the 66-year-old, self-taught trumpet player likes to say. It allowed him to follow a path away from his family's shipping business, a prospect he dreaded.

With a distinctive style that's part Miles Davis, part Chet Baker, he's now a musical legend in his native Italy.

Discovered in the jazz clubs of Turin, Rava went on to play avant-garde jazz in New York in the 1960s with saxophonist Steve Lacy.

He returned to Italy in 1977, where he has become a national celebrity and a mentor to young jazz musicians.

Rava and his quintet were recently back in the States for a show at New York City's famed Birdland. Rava spoke there about his musical influences, European attitudes toward jazz and finding harmony in music and life.

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Tom Vitale