Have just taken delivery of my new Bravura on Friday. Not much time to blow it, but 2 gigs later & I really like it. The spec is LP1, Bell6, medium round slide with medium (1/2″) caps, amado keys & brushed raw brass.
I play mainly bigband lead stuff, with some jazz as well, so need a versatile horn that can change character quite quickly. First thing is that feedback from behind the horn is less than a ‘normal’ one, this is pretty much in line with most heavy horns & to be expected. What has been said previously about not overblowing goes double for the Bravura I feel. The sound doesn’t break up or sound ‘blatty’, but it definitely doesn’t sound it’s best when overblown (does any trumpet?).
For very high lead stuff, I use a Bobby Shew lead with a permanently attached Denis Wick booster. This piece really does scream on the Bravura. First song of the first gig I did with it on Saturday, we played Blue Birdland. I played the cleanest double A on it on the last chord, so much so, that I was very surprised that with a bit more air on the double A, a very clear, audible triple A came out (highest note I’ve ever played in public).
The only slight issue I have with using the Shew lead all the time is that when I start getting a bit tired on it, the sound becomes slightly brittle. (again- me getting carried away & overblowing) I also use a Monette MFIII for lead, which has a far richer sound, but isn’t quite as bright as the Shew. The MFIII is a good match for the Bravura, and the horn balances perfectly in the hand as well.
For Jazz, I’ve been using a standard 3C. With this, the horn takes a different character & sounds very much like the medium weight Monettes. There’s a lot of body to the sound & an extra richness that I haven’t heard from other horns barring Monette. Once you start to push some air through the 3C, it keeps taking it, the sound becomes slightly edgier (brighter) & the sheer volume & tone just takes over the room (middle C made my ears ring in a large ballroom).
The valves, after a good clean are really nice, although one thing I noticed is that the vertical alignment is off due to the felts. I contacted Jason about this & he said that the felts need some time to ‘bed’ in. I’m an impatient guy, so I’m getting these switched over today to a harder felt with an option of rubber by a great tech over here. (Bryce Fergusonwww.brassandwoodwind.co.uk). The valve springs I find are nice and firm, with a very positive feedback.
Intonation with all 3 mouthpieces is excellent, very little compensation required as long as you blow down the centre of the horn. It’s one of those horns that really rewards relaxed, non-tensioned playing with a huge, rich sound. As soon as tension creeps into your playing (as it sometimes does with mine), the horn seems to tense up along with it. It’s a good marker as to how your physical approach is working throughout a gig.
Got another gig tonight with it on the new felts/rubbers, but I’m looking forward to getting into the practice room with it as well to really get to know it. Build quality/workmanship is fantastic – no solder splats etc., & very cleanly finished. Yes it’s been a long wait, but as my very good friend says. “Good, fast or cheap – it can only ever be any two of these at any one time”.