This live album breaks with Enrico Ravas own traditions. In his ECM albums,
all the way back to 1974s The Pilgrim And The Stars, Rava has set his own
compositions in the foreground. Not this time. Nor does he pay tribute to
aspects of jazz history. Instead, on Rava on the Dance Floor the great
Italian trumpeter (b. 1939) enthusiastically turns his attention to the
musical universe of the late Michael Jackson. And in this unexpected
context, drawing also upon the energy of the Parco della Musica Jazz Lab
band, he delivers impassioned and extroverted trumpet playing.
Rava acknowledges that he had paid scant attention to Michael Jackson during
the singers earthly existence, and it wasnt until June 2009 and the days
after Jacksons death that Enrico, curiosity piqued by the intensity of the
media coverage, began to listen to his music in earnest, finding himself
more and more attracted by its range of possibilities.
What finally convinced me, he says, was the contagious riff of Smooth
Criminal. The fact is that, from a certain moment on, Michael Jackson simply
invaded my life. My wife and I bought all the Jackson discs and videos we
could find. And my long and dull road trips were transformed into
enthusiastic listening sessions. It became clear to me that for years I had
ignored one of the great protagonists of 20th century music and dance. A
total artist, a perfectionist, a genius. I was especially knocked out by the
film This is it, which documents the rehearsals for that extraordinary show.
How amazing to see that 50-year old Peter Pan, so fragile and vulnerable,
transformed into a benevolent but absolute authority on stage, in control of
every small detail, correcting a spotlight, the emphasis of a bass note, a
dancers step, or the length of a musical pause.
Challenging conventional pop wisdom, Rava considers the later Jackson albums
to be the better ones, with History and Invincible as particular favourites.
He praises the call-and-response of Stranger In Moscow and the melody of
Speechless, considers Little Susie a masterpiece, and endorses also Jacksons
affection for the Charlie Chaplin tune Smile.
I felt the necessity to delve deeper into Jacksons music by adding something
of myself to it. In Mauro Ottolini I found the ideal partner for the
arrangements. The band could only be the PMJL. And the place the Auditorium
Parco della Musica di Roma, where everything got its start. (It was after a
concert at the Auditorium that Rava had first learned of Jacksons death).
The PMJL Parco della Musica Jazz Lab is an ensemble produced by the
Foundation Musica per Roma with a focus on young jazz talents. Its projects
to date have all been directed by Enrico Rava, and the line-up on Rava On
The Dance Floor includes pianist Giovanni Guidi from Enricos regular quintet
(as heard on the recent Tribe album).
Arranger Mauro Ottolini has released a number of albums as a leader, and has
played with international musicians including Carla Bley, Bill Frisell and