Danzon or dance is a piece for piano trio by the renowned Cuban performer and composer Paquito D’Rivera. The piece is written for piano and two separate parts which have the option of being performed by a cello, trombone or bassoon in the bass part, and a violin, clarinet or trumpet in the treble part. The piece, like D’Rivera’s musical style, blends traditional Cuban dance rhythms with contemporary jazz harmonies which create a fusion of Latin/jazz styles. Danzon is a structurally simple work with its thematic material clearly identifiable within the differing sections. For the sake of this analysis, it will be assumed that the bass part is played on trombone and the treble on violin.
Introduction (Section I (A))
The piece begins with a calm, repeating motif in the bass of the piano. It is in F major and for the first eight bars, it maintains a harmonic rhythm of one chord per bar, F major root and Bflat minor 2nd inversion.
* At figure A, this piano part serves as an accompaniment for a lyrical trombone solo, which is then imitated by the violin.
* This first section is relatively short, (12 bars), and acts as a prelude into the faster dance section.
* Two bars before section B, is marked Piu Mosso and the piano along with the violin and trombone play a unison rhythmic motif to lead into the next section.
Section II (B)
* This section marked Marcato and with a brisk metronome marking of crochet= 112, is reminiscent of traditional Cuban music with syncopated rhythms and an extremely common motif played in unison at the start of this section by every part of the trio.
* This traditionally Cuban rhythmic dance motif can be found in a variety of Cuban music. A prime example being the song Campina by the Cuban group Afro-Cuban Jazz project on their Album Putumayo Presents: Cuba. Throughout this song, the piano repeats a motif almost rhythmically and harmonically identical to the one at the beginning of section B.
Motif at beginning of Section B of Danzon:
Motif at beginning of Campina:
* After the harmonic progression is established through this introduction, it is built upon by the violin, accompanied by the piano, with four bars of an almost improvisatory melody which then leads back into the four bar dance motif.
* After this is heard for the second time, the violin again has a short, complex and syncopated melody with the trombone mirroring parts of the piano accompaniment.
* Rather abruptly with an extended Dominant 7/ sus 4 chord, the piece suddenly jumps from C minor, to F major.
Section II (C)
* This section begins with a two bar piano introduction which, as before, establishes the harmonic progression. In this case, it is F major followed by E flat major, with the harmony changing once every bar.
* The trombone then enters with a sweet and elegant melody of four bars before it is joined by the violin in unison.
* Although the tonality here has changed from the previous section, the tempo remains the same and syncopation such as the last bar of the above example, is still evident, maintaining a dance-like feel.
* After some interplay between the trombone and violin exchanging variations of the above trombone melody, the piano has a four bar solo which extends and develops ideas from that melody. Later joined by the other two parts, the melody is further expanded until another abrupt jazz chord in the piano, (G flat maj 9/6), re-introduces a condensed hint of the very first section.
Section II (A2)
* This part of section II uses the same material as the very opening of the work with the repeating piano motif.
* It serves as an interlude between the two main
themes of the middle, dance section.
Section II (B2)
* Now, there is a recapitulation of the dance motif in section II B. Though now, it is only heard between the trombone and piano after which, the trombone has six bars unaccompanied through which it expands on this motif in its extreme lower register. In fact, for a trombone to play this low, it must have a trigger F attachment which not all tenor trombones include.
* After this short trombone solo is an improve section where the violin has a choice of improvising a solo over the piano and trombone accompaniment or playing an optional written solo.
* The harmony here is relatively simple with the progression changing from C minor to G maj7 every bar. The piano has a four bar repeating accompaniment with syncopated rhythms in both the treble and bass part. The trombone mirrors the bass part of the piano.
* After this section is repeated for additional solos, the piece modulates into G major with the trombone playing a slight variation of the melody from section II C.
* This melody is again built upon for seven bars until a climatic unison E leads into another, calmer, seven bars marked rubato, which inturn lead into the final section of the work.
Section III (A3)
* The coda is a repeat of the introduction with an identical repeating piano accompaniment and theme in the trombone, only now it is in a different tonality, G major. It finishes gently in G major with a final broken chord in the piano.
Danzon as the name suggests, is a rhythmical dance of South America and in his Danzon for piano trio, Paquito D’Rivera combines elements of music from his native Cuba with traditional jazz characteristics such as chordal extensions and improvised solos to create a vibrant, exciting work. In its most basic form, it can be said that Danzon is in a loose ternary form with an introduction and a coda and through its syncopated rhythms and energetic melodies, Danzon really lives up to its name.