They Don't Care About Us
I Just Can't Stop Loving You / Smooth Criminal
Blood On the Dance Floor
Italian trumpet player Enrico Rava didn’t really get to know Michael Jackson’s music until after the King of Pop passed away in 2009. But then MJ's songs became a big part of Rava's life, and Rava on the Dance Floor finds the trumpeter reimagining 10 tracks written or performed by the R&B giant. Rava is backed by Parco della Musica Jazz Lab, a big band with younger musicians. The arrangements are by trombonist Mauro Ottolini, and the album was recorded at a live performance in Rome. Things start off with a version of “Speechless,” from MJ's 2001 release Invincible. (Contrary to popular opinion, Rava prefers Jackson’s later recordings.) A low-key piano intro is followed by Rava’s lyrical statement and a fine solo by tenor saxophonist Dan Kinzelman. The perky “They Don’t Care About Us,” with nice tuba from Ottolini, fuses Nino Rota, reggae, and hard-hitting rock. “Thriller,” propelled by Ernesto Lopez Maturell’s percussion and fierce tuba, is a standout. Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile” features a lovely arrangement and more delightful soloing from Rava. Dance Floor wraps up with “History,” a mélange of martial music, blasting horns, and crunching guitar.