Couldn't Scala bring you closer to Java? It's the only recommendation which could be better all around for a developer (I'm not a scala Dev).
It could, though last time I played with Scala there was a lot of doing things its own way - like having its own collection class hierarchy. Not a big deal but it did annoy me a bit.
Another option would be F#, as that sits on top of .net. Personally, I found F# a lot easier to pick up and it felt a lot closer to the rest of .net than Scala did to Java.
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