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On the Dance Floor

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Enrico Rava isn't the first jazz musician to cover the music of Michael Jackson. Nor, at 70, is he the most likely. (Younger men like Nicholas Payton, Christian Scott, and Robert Glasper would seemingly be more obvious candidates.) That said, with On the Dance Floor, the Italian trumpet legend takes on an entire album of tunes associated with Jackson. According to Rava, he wasn't even really aware of Jackson's music until a few days after his death; his wife was watching a concert video, he haphazardly took a look and listen and was riveted to the point of obsession. On the Dance Floor is not the usual tribute then, because it's not wrapped in grief. Instead, it's the mark of one master musician celebrating another — Rava rightfully considers Jackson to be among the most important musicians of the 20th century. Recorded live in Rome with the large ensemble, Parco della Musica Jazz Lab, under the direction of trombonist Mauro Ottolini, Rava takes on some of Jackson's biggest hits and some of his less familiar numbers. The set opens with a ponderous, laid-back reading of "Speechless," on which Rava uses his trademark spacing and lyricism to find room for improvisation that reflects the Italian jazz tradition, theatrical and cinematic music, and the source material. While the orchestra isn't up to playing at the communicative level of the trumpeter's smaller groups, they don't need to be. They understand how to bring the funk and make it bubble and boil on the medley of "I Just Can't Stop Loving You"/"Smooth Criminal," "Thriller," and "Blood on the Dance Floor." That said, they also color ballads with enough emotion and sensitivity to allow Rava's own sense of exploratory admiration to come through as on the hinge piece, a beautiful cover of Charlie Chaplin's "Smile" that reflects much of the tenderness Jackson imbued it with. The reading of "Little Susie" wonderfully balances drama and melody. On the Dance Floor doesn't come off as one of Rava's more disciplined recordings — it may indeed be his loosest — but that's by design. It's a laid-back, accessible tribute recording that celebrates Jackson's music as an achievement, and offers jazz fans of all stripes a way into it.


Né(e) : 20 août 1939 à Trieste, Italy

Genre : Jazz

Années d’activité : '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

This hugely popular trumpet player (born in Trieste, Italy in 1939) almost single-handedly brought Italian jazz to international attention. He began playing Dixieland trombone in Turin, but after hearing Miles Davis, switched instruments and embraced the modern style. Other key meetings were with Gato Barbieri, with whom he recorded movie soundtracks in 1962, and Chet Baker. He began to play with Steve Lacy; he also teamed up with South African expatriates Louis Moholo and John Dyani and recorded...
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On the Dance Floor, Enrico Rava
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