DownBeat March 2021

Woodshed SOLO


playing again in measure 9 it’s continuing the downward scale he started back in bar 7. And since those first two notes (E b and D b ) are part of the both keys (A b and G b ), Rava is not just avoiding calling attention to the key change; in this case he’s actually obscuring it. An addi- tional clever thing: Rava brings back this same descending sequence in bars 41–42, the next time we hear the key of G b . Leaving space between the key changes is something we hear quite a bit of in this impro- visation. Between measures 12–13, 14–15, 22–23, 32–33, 38–39 and 54–55 are further instances. His improvisation is almost split evenly between the ideas. Thinking of groups of chords as keys may have another advantage: We hear Rava empha- sizing nonchord tones quite often. Bar 4 is one example, where Rava culminates on a high A, the sixth of the Cmaj7, but the third of the key (F major). Bar 18 is a better example, where after a series of descending thirds in C major, Rava lands on a D. He often seems to be more concerned with the shape of the melodic line than with the chord tones. After a brief pause, he continues the descending thirds motif, this time resolving to chord tones. This creates a sense of completeness. There’s also the aforementioned F# on the Em7 in bar 25, and from here, as it’s chang- ing to the key of C, he starts on a high A and goes down the scale, but rhythmically this cre- ates some nice contrasts. We land on the G in measure 27, the fourth of the Dm7, and just as this resolves to the chord tone F at the end of the bar, he immediately continues down to E, which is the sixth of the following chord. This is delicious enough that he plays the E again in the next measure, where it is now the ninth. The next phrase, still in C, ends on an A natural, the sixth of the Cmaj7 (bar 31). Also clever, when it returns to the key of F in mea- sure 33, Rava starts on this same A natural, the third of the key and the chord, connecting the keys and phrases. Rava leans on this A again when we next hear the key of C major, emphasizing it in bar 49. Then he plays a scalar run that keeps bouncing between B and E. On the Cmaj7 these are the third and seventh, but on the Dm7 and G7 they’re the sixth and ninth, or third and sixth, mostly nonchord tones. Rava’s ideas on this solo are simple, but he uses them very effectively to create a moving improvisation.  DB

Enrico Rava

EnricoRava’s Trumpet Solo on ‘ThankYou, ComeAgain’ G lancing at the chord changes, with the strings of modulating ii–V’s, one would expect Enrico Rava’s “Thank of “chromaticism that isn’t.” The same technique is used over bars 10–11, only it’s more exaggerated. At the end of measure 10, Rava plays B b and A b (in the key of G b that’s alluded to) and then resolves on the downbeat to the A natural in between, which is also in the new key, and most assur- edly not in the previous key. Repeating this note makes it even more effective.

You, Come Again” (from 2009’s New York Days , ECM) to be a bebop tune. Listening to the rhythm section of drummer Paul Motian, bassist Larry Grenadier and pianist Stefano Bollani makes it sound not as much so. And then, looking at Rava’s trumpet solo, he’s tak- ing bebop harmonic motion but putting a dif- ferent spin on it. For one thing, there aren’t many chromat- ic passing tones, a staple in bebop. Measures 5, 30, 39, 57 and 61 are the only instances, with some other chromaticism in bars 10 and 58, as well as an approach tone in bar 48, which is fairly subtle. So, Rava eschews bebop vocabu- lary for this improvisation. But Rava does create a sense of chromati- cism by playing over the barline. Look at bars 6 and 7. So far, Rava has stayed within the F major scale (which fits seamlessly on the I– ii–V–I progression), but ends this long phrase on E b and D b , which fits great in the key of A b set up by the B b m7–E b 7 (ii–V motion) but is quite outside the key we had been hearing. As a result, it sounds inside and outside. It’s also a very effective means of emphasizing the sound of the key change, and creating a kind

We again hear Rava using this idea of changing scales over the barline between measures 24–25, 46–47 and 56–57. There’s also an instance where the idea is used more obscurely: measure 25–27. Most of the chang- es are treated as ii–V’s in major, but in this sec- tion, he seems to be hearing it more as V–i in minor. Notice how he plays F# (the second) on the Em7 in bar 25, but then plays F natural at the end of the bar, setting up the A7 to resolve to D minor. But as great an idea as it is to resolve to nonoverlapping tones to bring out key chang- es, Rava has the sense that doing the same thing over and over has a tendency to not be musically fulfilling. Notice how often Rava doesn’t emphasize the key shifts, such as mea- sures 7–9. It’s quite clever how Rava not only doesn’t play in bar 8, avoiding calling atten- tion to the key change, but when he does start

Jimi Durso is aguitarist andbassist based in theNewYorkarea. Visit himonline at


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