Rava on the Dance Floor

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Enrico Rava
LABELS: ECM
ALBUM TITLE: Rava in the Dance Floor
WORKS: Rava on the Dance floor
PERFORMER: Enrico Rava (trumpet) and Parco della Musica Jazz Lab
CATALOGUE NO: 3706654

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I would least have expected a tribute album to Michael Jackson to be released on European jazz label ECM, but the long-established Italian trumpeter Enrico Rava has done just that. However, as you’d expect from ECM, this is far more than ‘jazzed-up’ versions of the late pop legend’s songs. Where Rava really succeeds is in extracting the musical emotion from the tunes he’s selected. His choice weighs more on Jackson’s later output, but that doesn’t matter. After an atmospheric opener, the pace picks up with ‘They don’t care about us’. Here, percussive march rhythms give way to a reggae groove and cacophonous climax. Jackson’s ‘Smile’ (itself a standard) gets a retro swing treatment, and ‘Little Susie’ becomes a dirgeful jazz waltz with wailing clarinets.

Rava displays serene tone quality and mastery of improvisation, straying into his instrument’s uppermost registers. The sparkling version of ‘Blood on the Dance Floor’ is a highlight, a high-energy dance-orientated track. A first for ECM?

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Neil McKim