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Rava On the Dance Floor

3.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Audio CD, January 8, 2013
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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 Maria Schneider.

Review

Rava On The Dance Floor was recorded live at the Auditorium Parco della Musica di Roma on 20th May and 30th November 2011 by Roberto Lioli, Massimiliano Cervini, Luca Padovano and mixed at Udines Artesuono studio. --ECM Records
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 8, 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: ECM
  • ASIN: B008DGUT8Q
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #189,837 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By David Keymer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 23, 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Italian trumpeter Rava is the brand name on this album of Michael Jackson tunes but it's clearly an ensemble effort. This is not to say that Rava doesn't solo beautifully -he does, but so do others among the young musicians in this twelve-piece ensemble. The arranger -who doubles on trombone and tuba in the ensemble- Mauro Ottolini deserves credit for his imaginative arrangements: they remind one of Gil Evans's for Jimi Hendrix, (cf. Gil Evans Plays Jimi Hendrix) mixed together with a Fellini soundtrack. (I didn't know until I checked on Wikipedia that Rava played with Gil Evans some time in the 70s or 80s, although apparently he didn't record with him.) The songs are presented as a suite with musical transitions between them. The only song by Jackson that I recognized at a glance was "Thriller." The others are mostly from his later albums. I hadn't known that Jackson had recorded the Charlie Chaplin tune, "Smile!" It's lovely, as is Rava's lyrical rendition of it here.

The solo and ensemble sounds evoked from Rava makes evident his affinity with Miles Davis, whom he has named as inspiration in the past. But on this album, it's the late Miles, the Miles who melded pop music with jazz and recorded songs like Cyndi Lauper's `Time After Time' and an album like Tutu. Rava's facility in playing and his relaxed light sweet tone show to advantage on even the jumpiest and most percussive of these tunes. Ottolini has a few short solos on trombone, so does tenor man Kinzel, but the bear among soloists other than Rava is the guitarist, Gianninni, who plays blistering rock solos that latch on to the pop roots of Jackson's effervescent music. The two drummers drive the music: they do a good job of it but aren't otherwise particularly distinctive.
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Format: Audio CD
Enrico Rava play Michael Jackson¡ probably the more strange ECM production ever. Rava play great and simple arranged of Michael Jackson music, in live. Great band, great moments of music but strange for Rava feelings. Is nice, but not great. Is something between Brecker Brothers, Jackson and Rava. The four stars are for the singularity of this "unique"ECM colaboration. Really strange this kind of pop music in this ECM catalog, but fine at least, specially the Chaplin song, this one is great. Specially interesting for Rava fans. He is great even with this kind of material
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Format: Audio CD
When I first heard this album was coming, I was desperate to hear it. The idea of Enrico Rava making a large-ensemble recording (as far as I know, for the first time since Carla Bley's "Escalator over the Hill," forty-odd years ago) was irresistible. And even more, the idea of his taking on Michael Jackson's gorgeously danceable music was just...wonderful. (And on ECM! How is it possible that anyone could have talked Manfred Eicher into that?) But the record just doesn't live up to that promise. The young musicians were clearly having a lot of fun, and the audience (this is a live recording) seem to be enjoying themselves tremendously, too. But somehow, for me at least, the pleasure just doesn't doesn't come through on the record. The arrangements seem perfunctory, most of the soloists are...nothing special, and even Rava seems to have dialed backed his virtuosity, perhaps to avoid showing up the others.

I've actually been reluctant to write this review, because I love Rava's music so much. This man is one of the most important musicians alive, and one of the most fun. I own perhaps two dozen of his recordings, and can recommend almost any of them unreservedly. But I'd hate to have anyone who's new to Rava's music start with this album, which is neither representative nor (in my opinion) very good. Better to start with almost any of his other recent ECM recordings, like "Easy Living" and "Tribe," or (if you can find them) some of his more obscure titles, like "Chanson" with the French accordionist Richard Galliano or "Quatre," with the amazing rhythm section of Miroslav Vitous and Daniel Humair, which is probably my personal favourite.

I really hope no one who reads this will be put off exploring Rava's music. He's great, truly great. But this album probably isn't the place to start.
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Format: MP3 Music
This is truly a mediocre ensemble effort. The arrangements seem to echo one cliche after another. It is a strange mixture of old big band charts and bad disco background structures. It certainly suggests a giant step backward for ensemble jazz. The soloing is a slight relief from the pomp and repetition of the band. When I first listened, I couldn't believe that the arrangers had ever even heard Michael Jackson's music. It has more in common with the terrible soundtrack recordings from 70s youth exploitation films. I played it again today and couldn't make it through any of the tracks. It is rather surprising that the music of a seminal artist could inspire something so unlistenable. I give it one star for Rava who deserves better and one star for ECM who rarely disappoints on this scale.
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