Mark Nelson, Associate Editor
firstname.lastname@example.orgMaterials Received May 1–August 1 with thanks:
for euphonium-tuba quartet by Henry Wolking
Phoenix for tuba octet by Kenneth Friedrich
Inside Out CD recording featuring Tom McCaslin, tuba
Bach to Bix CD recording featuring Ted Cox, tuba
Four Corners Tuba Music From Around the World CD recording featuring John Manning, tuba
The Breathing Book by David Vining
Flow Studies by David Vining
Daily Routines for Tuba by David Vining
Daily Routines for the Student Tuba Player by David Vining
Daily Routines for Euphonium by David Vining
Daily Routines for the Student Euphonium Player by David Vining
Long Tone Duets for Euphonium by David Vining
Long Tone Duets for Tuba by David Vining
Giving Voice CD recording featuring Lauren Veromíe, euphonium
Arioso by J.S. Bach transcribed for brass quintet by Michael Stewart
Variations on Sabre las Olas by Juventino Rosas, variations for brass quintet by Mark A. Prater
Dirge: For the Age of Reptiles, Op. 37 for tuba and piano by Robert C. Ehle
Partita for Four Tubas by Hendrik de Regt
Varistar CD recording featuring Tom Heasley, tuba
Reviewed in this issue:
(Editor’s note: sometimes we are at the mercy of what materials are shipped to us for review. No tuba solos were available to review during this review period.)
for euphonium and piano by Joe Miserendino
Brass Quintet/Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble/Chamber Music
Dissmissed, Go Serve The Lord
for brass quartet and organ by Randy Snyder
Huntsmen’s Choruses by Carl Maria von Weber arranged for baritone-tuba quartet by Rudy Emilson
Come Thou Fount/Come All Christians arranged for brass quintet by Timothy D. Carpenter
Festival Brass: Quintets for the Easter and Christmas Seasons arranged for brass quintet by Timothy D. Carpenter
Minuet from the “Notebook for Anna Magdalena” by J.S. Bach arranged for brass quintet by Joseph S. Kaminski
Kyrie eleison by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina arranged for brass quartet by Randy Snyder
Ode to Joy Fanfare by Ludwig von Beethoven arranged for brass quintet by Joseph S. Kaminski
Phoenix for tuba octet by Kenneth D. Friedrich
Scenes for Brass for brass quintet by Jack Cooper
Tuba Blues for euphonium-tuba quartet (+drumset) by Henry Wolking
Bone Break CD recording featuring the Po’Boys Brass Band with T.J.Ricer, sousaphone
Fascinating Ribbons CD recording featuring the University of New Mexico Wind Symphony, Eric Rombach-Kendall, conductor and Sam Pilafian, tuba soloist
Ted Frazeur: Fearful Synmetry: Musics of Ted Frazeur CD recording featuring Holohedron for Tuba and Piano, Kevin Stees, tuba and Donald Enos, piano
Inside Out CD recording featuring Tom McCaslin, tuba
Two Deuces CD recording by the Original Wildcat Jass Band featuring Dr. Kelly Thomas, tuba
Sacred Circle CD recording by the Monumental Brass Quintet
TUBA U: Basso Profundo DVD recording featuring R. Winston Morris and the Tennessee Tech Tuba Ensemble
Swing that Music: A Tribute to Louis Armstrong CD recording featuring the Canadian Brass
The One-Stop Didgeridoo Book!
by John Elliott
Aragonaise for euphonium and piano by Joe Miserendino. Brassworks 4 Publishing, 461 Sunrise Pkwy, Farmington, N.M. 87401. www.brassworks4publishing.com. Catalog #BW501. 2007. $10.
Joe Miserendino began composing in 2000 and has written numerous works for brass, woodwinds, and string instruments in various types of settings. Some of his other works for euphonium include The Willson Concertante, Keystone Kapers, and Music of the Seasons.
Aragonaise is a short, light-hearted piece for solo euphonium and piano. The work is written in a simple ABA form, and the euphonium carries the tune for most of the piece except for a brief, five-measure introduction. The theme has an upbeat dance feel that is transformed to a minor, melancholy flavor in the B section. Except for a few scalar runs in the closing measures, this work is playable by an undergraduate or reasonably talented high school student. The range of the solo part is primarily at the top of the staff to a fourth above, with a1 being the top note. The ending pitch is a CC and provides a fitting, jocular end for the work. Given its briefness in length, a more appropriate retail price might be in the $5 to $6 range.
~Ken Drobnak, National Music Museum
Brass Quintet/Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble/Chamber Music
Dissmissed, Go Serve The Lord for brass quartet and organ by Randy Snyder. Brassworks 4 Publishing, 461 Sunrise Pkwy, Farmington, N.M. 87401. www.brassworks4.com. Catalog #BW507. 2007. $15.
The instrumentation of the brass quartet in this piece calls for 2 B-flat trumpets, trombone, and euphonium. There are numerous optional parts including C trumpets for the B-flat parts, horn for the trombone part, and the euphonium part can be substituted with a trombone.
As the title suggests, this work would be well suited for the closing work of a religious service. Dynamically, it is written mostly at a forte dynamic in block chord fashion, with the organ often playing a bass line with the left hand or with a pedal. The lack of a tuba for this duty is somewhat disappointing.
The work is short, lasting fifty-six measures and playable by a high school ensemble as long as they can read sharp key signatures with accuracy. The trombone and euphonium parts are mostly written at the top of the staff in thirds, with the trombone part above the staff for a majority of the work. The music is typeset with a computer program and is easy to read. This arrangement should be part of any ensemble’s library that plays in church services on a regular basis.
~Ken Drobnak, National Music Museum
Huntsmen’s Choruses by Carl Maria von Weber arranged for baritone-tuba quartet by Rudy Emilson. Kendor Music, Inc. 21 Grove Street, P.O. Box 278, Delevan N.Y. 14042-0278. www.kendormusic.com. #18094. $10.95.
These two arrangements are derived from the huntsmen’s choruses from Der Freischutz and Euryanthe, two operas by Carl Maria von Weber. The performance time for these settings is about three minutes. Though the publisher has listed the work at the Grade 5+ level, I find that Grade 4 is a more appropriate level. The range of the first euphonium is the most challenging physical aspect of the work, especially in the second setting where the part reaches b-flat1 and remains around f1 for long stretches. The keys are not particularly challenging, with the first setting in the key of B-flat and the second in the key of E-flat. A tuba player with an E-flat or F tuba will not find the first part too tiring. Finally, the melodies are primarily written in scalar patterns at an allegro tempo and pose only moderate difficulty for players who can play in the aforementioned keys and their related areas.
This would be a great selection for a younger quartet or a group of students who lack chamber music experience and want something fun to play. The scoring is primarily in block style and varies with parts split in pairs, usually by instrument. In the second setting, the second tuba part is in the staff for much of the time and perhaps moving the key down a step or two would improve the tessitura of each part. This would be a great work for a closing piece on an undergraduate recital.
~Ken Drobnak, National Music Museum
Come Thou Fount/Come All Christians arranged for brass quintet by Timothy D. Carpenter. Brassworks 4 Publishing, 461 Sunrise Pkwy, Farmington, N.M. 87401. www.brassworks4publishing.com. BW5652008. $15.
Festival Brass: Quintets for the Easter and Christmas Seasons for brass quintet, arranged by Timothy D. Carpenter. Brassworks 4 Publishing, 461 Sunrise Pkwy, Farmington, N.M. 87401. www.brassworks4publishing.com. BW564. 2008. $17.
Come Thou Fount/Come All Christians and Festival Brass are two brass quintet arrangements that will work well in the sacred setting. Timothy Carpenter is currently the Director of Choral Music and Musical Theatre in the Ripley-Union-Lewis-Huntington Schools in Ripley, Ohio and is the Director of Music for the Milford First United Methodist Church in Milford, Ohio. His compositions, published by Brassworks 4, were originally premiered in the Milford First United Methodist Church. He holds a B.A. in Music Education from Berea College in Kentucky and a M.M. in Choral Conducting from the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music.
Come Thou Fount/Come All Christians is a wonderful arrangement of these two familiar hymns. Mr. Carpenter presents both melodies separately and then begins to intertwine the two melodies simultaneously. All the instruments have an opportunity to play the melody, and the accompaniment is always interesting. This work is more challenging than just playing hymns from the hymnal. It is absolutely geared towards special music and will require some rehearsal time.
Festival Brass is a quintet with four movements that are meant for different seasons. Hosanna, Loud Hosanna is intended for Palm Sunday and Up From The Grave He Arose is included for an Easter celebration. The King Shall Come is included for Advent while Good Christian Men Rejoice will be wonderful for a Christmas presentation. The main benefit of this work is that it can be used for several different sacred seasons. While all four movements could be performed at one setting, this piece lends itself to each movement being performed during its specified season.
It is easy to hear Mr. Carpenter’s male quartet singing experience in his writing. His harmonies are not always traditional, but they are always interesting. The most useful aspect of both of these quintets is that they are quality arrangements that can be used in the sacred setting. They are not watered down works but challenging pieces for a brass quintet. While these pieces may not be featured on the next recital your local quintet is performing, I am sure they will receive much use in the sacred setting.
~Dr. Kelly Thomas, University of Arizona
Minuet from the “Notebook for Anna Magdalena” by J.S. Bach arranged for brass quintet by Joseph S. Kaminski. BW548. Brassworks 4 Publishing, 461 Sunrise Pkwy, Farmington, N.M. 87401. www.brassworks4publishing.com. 2008. $15.
Nearly everyone knows this particular piece of music, and it is a crowd pleaser. My group that tried out this arrangement proved this when we played it for a band camp consisting of urban sixth and seventh grade students. When we announced the title, there was a ripple of recognition through the audience and appreciative applause when we finished. Many students in middle school bands were piano students sometime before and played this very piece.
This particular arrangement is in AABB form, with the form written out rather than with repeat signs. There is a little bit of variation in the voices in the second A section, and the melody passes from the trumpet 1 part to the trumpet 2, but trumpet 1 continues with a kind of counter melody while trumpet 2 carries the melodic line. The tuba line also is repetitive except for an octave drop that, while somewhat clumsy, prevents the player from getting too far above the staff.
The B sections, while also written out rather than just repeated, pass the melody from trumpet 1 to trumpet 2 but are repetitive in the other three parts. This is a little hard to avoid, since, after all, it is a simple piece of music. At only sixty-four measures in length, it is only about a minute and a half long. Easily played by a young high school group, it could be a good challenge for a middle school group, and as I said above was used to good effect in an educational setting. The one complaint from the musicians was from our horn player. The range of the horn part is c1 to b-flat1. Trumpet 1 goes to written C above the treble clef, while trumpet 2 doesn’t get above the staff. The range on the trombone part is G to g1, and the tuba part range is GG to a-flat, most of it from E-flat to g.
~Michael Short, Drake University
Kyrie eleison by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina arranged for brass quartet by Randy Snyder. BW511. Brassworks 4 Publishing 461 Sunrise Pkwy Farmington, N.M. 87401 www.brassworks4.com. 2008. $13.
With only thirty measures in the entire piece, this is just over a minute long. It is scored for two trumpets in B-flat and two trombones with an optional horn part substituting for trombone 1. Trombone 2 is marked for trombone or euphonium. The piece appears to be based on a cantus firmus intoned by trombone 1 resulting in a part for that instrument composed entirely of whole notes in 4/4 meter and all within the range of g to e1. The other three parts are structured on a three bar theme that we would today recognize as a cadential movement. The two trumpet parts lie entirely on the treble clef staff, while the trombone 2 has the widest range of C to d1. There is not much complexity here since the occupation of trombone 1 with the cantus only leaves three parts to elaborate the theme around that cantus. Obviously, this could be used in a church service of some sort, but the length would tempt the performers to do a complete repetition of the entire piece. Due to the small range, this could be done quite easily by a middle school group. Perhaps, paired with something else, this could be contest material for that group.
~Michael Short, Drake University
Ode to Joy Fanfare by Ludwig von Beethoven arranged for brass quintet by Joseph S. Kaminski. Brassworks 4 Publishing, 461 Sunrise Pkwy, Farmington, N.M. 87401. www.brassworks4.com. BW550. 2008. $15.
Born in 1956, Joseph S. Kaminski has been playing with brass quintets and quartets for over thirty years. He is the leader of The Eastern Tower Brass and has an extensive background in teaching and solo performance. He received his Ph.D. in Musicology/Ethnomusicology from Kent State University and has studied the performance of ivory, horn, and wooden trumpets in traditional cultures throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia. His other quintet arrangements also offered through Brassworks4, are well known works from the Classical and Baroque periods.
Ode to Joy stands out as one of the most recognizable melodies ever conceived, and while the arrangement is not too daring clocking in at forty-nine measures, it certainly could find a niche in Young People’s or community concerts. It lends itself as a nice lead-in for a bit of history, a bit of “the tuba as a percussionist”or a “trumpets always get the melody” shtick. The hard part of arranging this melody appears to be finding something to do once it has been played through. There are good “spots” which would stand alone as short tags or fanfares possibly for wedding or party—probably would be suggested by the low brass who basically cover timpani and “dun-da-dun” rhythmic underpinnings throughout with nary a bar of rest.
The score and parts once again reflect the high quality and care that are trademarks of Brassworks4. I would recommend it to those who do a fair amount of quintet gigging and are searching for an adaptable, adjustable, recognizable little fanfare.
~Phillip C. Black, Wichita State University, Wichita Symphony
Phoenix for tuba octet by Kenneth D. Friedrich. Music of Kenneth D. Friedrich, 386 Stennis, Kyle, Tex. www.kfsbrasschamber.com. KDF-10086. 2007. Grade 4. 13:00. $24.50.
Kenneth D. Friedrich was born in 1965 in Mission, Texas. He started writing music in 1976 for his church. He attended New Mexico State University in 1983, where he was first exposed to the tuba ensemble experience under Dr. Kenneth Singleton. Mr. Friedrich has a body of over 100 pieces, most written especially for euphonium and tuba, with nearly 80 solos written for euphonium alone. Friedrich currently resides in Austin, Texas where he teaches beginning band at numerous private schools in the city. His music is both self-published and published by Cimarron Music Press.
This eight-part work is a study in compound rhythm. In total, a third of the work utilizes the 5/8 meter to portray the title character, The Phoenix, the rest comprises of simple meter. The Phoenix theme occurs in the opening and closing sections mainly, but there are many references to it throughout the work. The music follows the life-death-resurrection story of the mythical bird. Ranges for the parts are euphonium 1 c to c2, euphonium 4 F to g1, tuba 1 C to c1, and tuba 4 EE to d.
The most challenging aspect of this work is the range demands. The top euphonium part is very high at times, but considering that this is an eight-part work with each part not being doubled by another, it is understandable. It might be suggested that a double quartet approach be taken instead of a massed ensemble because of the balance and blend issues associated with such writing. The rhythmic aspects are not substantial but do have some tricky interplay at times. Ken does supply a recording of his works upon request which is very thoughtful. As a whole, this work would serve nicely as a somewhat medium weight material for the genre.
~Chris Combest, D.M.A.
Scenes for Brass for brass quintet by Jack Cooper. Brassworks 4 Publishing, 461 Sunrise Pkwy, Farmington, N.M. 87401. www.brassworks4.com. BW488. 2007. Grade 6. $18.
Prodigious composer and arranger Jack Cooper, whose compositional credits include jazz ensemble, wind band, and Hollywood studio works, has turned his compositional skills to the brass quintet with Scenes for Brass. Cooper, a faculty member of the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music at the University of Memphis, wrote Scenes for the Memphis Brass Quintet in 2007. His Sonata for Trombone is also available through Brassworks 4 and contains some of the same Latin and African dance influences as Scenes.
The tuba part ranges from EE-flat to e-flat1 and begins with a solo covering nearly all of that range. All parts and score are computer-generated and easy to read. Scenes for Brass is in five movements entitled “Fanfare,” “Somberly,” “Fugue,” “Shapes, Forms, Shadows,” and “Naningo/Afro-Latin.” This is an extremely difficult modern work that is likely to be accessible only to professional or highly motivated collegiate brass quintets. It will require formidable range and endurance from all members of the quintet, as well as willingness to improvise and perform in varying styles. There is much to be gained by an ensemble in working up a piece of this complexity, but some audiences may find the modern harmonies and rhythmic layering challenging. Brassworks 4 has graciously provided pdfs of the first page of each movement on their website. Interested quintets are encouraged to take a look at these sample pages to help decide if the piece will be accessible to both the players and the intended audience.
~T.J. Ricer, Doctoral Sudent, Eastman School of Music
Tuba Blues for euphonium-tuba quartet (+ drumset) by Henry Wolking. Cherry Classics Music. 5462 Granville Street, Vancouver, B.C. V6M 3C3 Canada. email@example.com. www.Cherry-Classics.com. $12.50.
This work is well suited to the college or professional level tuba-euphonium ensemble. It incorporates several familiar melodies such as “Shortnin’ Bread” and “Salt Peanuts” in an original setting. The additional percussion part would definitely help a younger ensemble stay together while adding a definite seasoning of “Blues Club” flavor and make the overall package more palatable. While none of the parts are excessively difficult, a strong player would be needed for the tessitura of the first euphonium part that spends most of its time in the upper register. One chorus is marked “open for solos” and would allow a professor a chance to impart wisdom, such as “sink or swim,” and let everyone have a chance to shine. A fair amount of rehearsal time would have to be spent learning to agree on blues/swing style articulation and note lengths. There are numerous tempo shifts between slow-halftime-double-time that would help a group be of one mind.
There are a few minor drawbacks in the printing that make reading the score and parts much more difficult than one would expect. The players parts look like laser copied manuscript, sixteenth notes at times seem crammed together, accidentals and articulation markings threaten to overwhelm the notes, and I found myself constantly having to stop and count ledger lines to be sure of pitches. Maybe there is a font called, “close enough for jazz.” The score is printed in eight “five bar chunks” per page. This is very visually hard to coordinate, reading five bars, five bars below, skip across page, read five bars and five bars below, skip to bottom half of page and repeat, and the print is tiny! Even with that difficulty, the work is strong enough and holds enough good material for both teaching and entertaining to be an excellent addition to any studio. Instrumental ranges are euphonium 1 from c to b1, euphonium 2 from B-flat to g1, tuba 1 from GG to d1, and tuba 2 from EE to c-sharp1.
~Phillip C. Black, Wichita State University, Wichita symphony
Bone Break CD recording featuring the Po’Boys Brass Band. BDMG Records. www.poboysbrassband.com. Available for purchase at cdbaby.com/cd/poboysbrass. 2008. $11.97.
The Po’Boys Brass Band is a seven-piece group consisting of four trombones, guitar, drums, and sousaphone and is highly influenced by funk/jazz/blues and rock. The New Orleans style band plays original charts as well as some various covers. They draw a sound concept that is influenced by the Rebirth Brass Band, Bonerama, the Dirty Dozen,Professor Longhair, The Meters, and Dr. John among others. The band’s current personnel consist of alumni or current students at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. The band itself has been in existence since October 2007 and has been very active in western New York State. This is the band’s debut album released under the Rochester indie label BDMG Records. Bone Break was recorded live over two days at The Bop Shop at Village Gate, Rochester, N.Y.
Bone Break is a very enthusiastic and highly energetic recording. It is quite obvious that the band takes great pleasure in producing a high energy and exciting approach to their particular style. The track selection is compelling and covers a varied range of styles, including a cover of Frankenstein which I found to be very entertaining. The obvious connection with being reviewed in the ITEA Journal would be that the band utilizes a sousaphone. T.J. Ricer plays his role well and supports the group sound with authority. Overall this is a very good debut album. The band took a very exuberant approach in recording, but the product they have given us is fun to listen to. For anyone looking for something a little different, this would be a good candidate. Congratulations to the Po’ Boys Brass Band and their debut album Bone Break!
~Chris Combest, D.M.A.
Fascinating Ribbons CD recording featuring the University of New Mexico Wind Symphony, Eric Rombach-Kendall, conductor and Sam Pilafian, tuba. DCD 519. Summit Records.P.O. Box 26850, Tempe, Ariz. 85285-6850. firstname.lastname@example.org; www.summitrecords.com. $16.99.
The University of New Mexico Wind Symphony has rapidly grown to be one of the premiere collegiate wind ensembles of our time. Along with major performances at various professional conferences, the group has commissioned a plethora of works from many of the biggest names in wind literature today. In addition, the group has recorded and worked with members of the New York Philharmonic, including serving as the accompanying ensemble for the Alessi Seminar, held alternating years at the U.N.M. campus. The ensemble is led by Eric Rombach-Kendall.
This recording presents a number of interesting and diverse works for wind ensemble. Works include Joan Tower’s first venture into the band world, the title track Fascinating Ribbons, the complex and exciting Partita by Robert Linn, and Mark Scatterday’s transcription of Fandangos by Roberto Sierra. The ensemble continually demonstrates a maturity of playing, from the delicate and haunting woodwind work on As the Scent of Spring Rain…(Jonathan Newman) to the rambunctious brass and percussion licks in Las Campanas (Stephen Gryc). They also show their comfort in non-standard techniques, including hand clapping sections in Carlos Surinach’s Ritmo Jondo, and numerous vocal, percussive, and orchestral ideas in Warren Benson’s Helix, which brings us to the work for which we have all been waiting.
Commissioned and premiered by Harvey Phillips in 1967, Helix has lain somewhat dormant in the tuba repertoire for many years. A quick search of the web brings up only this recording, several sites to purchase the music, and a reference or two to performances, mainly by this ensemble. I have to admit that the copy in my files has barely seen daylight. Hopefully, this recording will bring the work back into the sights of our present cadre.
The work itself is considered a concerto, though only comprised of two movements, Dancing-Rollicking and Singing-Pensive. The first movement is comprised of a driving eighth note pulse and features the tuba in an ongoing discussion with various members and sections of the ensemble. The second movement is a furtive suspension of time and harmony, dismissing brass and percussive instruments for the ethereal quality of woodwinds and mallets. The only rhythmic percussion instruments utilized are suspended flower pots, and they even seemed to be tuned to some extent.
Mr. Pilafian’s performance is no less than we would ever expect from him. He brings a dexterity and clarity to the work. Although the work may present somewhat of a challenge to the average listener, it easily stands up with wind ensemble and solo literature of today.
~Tim Olt, Miami University of Ohio, Northern Kentucky University
Ted Frazeur: Fearful Synmetry: Musics of Ted Frazeur CD recording featuring Holohedron for Tuba and Piano, Kevin Stees, tuba and Donald Enos, piano. Mark 4798-MCD. Mark Custon Recording Service, Inc. 10825 Bodine Road, Clarence, N.Y. email@example.com; www.markcustom.com. 47:36.
Ted Frazeur is well known to tuba players through his compositions for tuba and orchestra and tuba and percussion. Written on a commission for tuba and orchestra from the late tuba artist and teacher, C. Rudolph Emilson in the mid 1970s, it was premiered by tubist Emilson and the SUNY-Fredonia orchestra under the direction of Harry John Brown.
The nearly 20 plus minute composition is a brilliant work in four movements and soloist Kevin Stees is an able and fine soloist. He performs this piece with flair and control and excellent musicianship. Donald Enos is right there with him and proves to be a real asset to the performance. Mr. Stees has a beautiful, rich, dark tone, virtuoso technique, excellent intonation, and a wide range. The rest of the album is a delight and features much of interest to musicians and listeners. It is a fabulous collection of music by Ted Frazeur and the performances are marvelous. Highly recommended.
Inside Out CD recording featuring Tom McCaslin, tuba. Crystal Records Inc. 28818 NE Hancock Rd. Camas, Wash., 98607. (360) 834-7022; www.crystalrecords.com. CD695. $16.95. 55:44.
Tom McCaslin, Professor of Tuba/Euphonium at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C., has a vast array of international performance credentials, and has studied with many of today’s finest teachers—beginning at age 12 with John Griffiths. Regarding this CD he states,” When deciding to record an album of my own, the ambition became to find pieces that weren’t well known, reflected the virtuosity of my background, and spoke to my own musical opinion. What I’ve collected here are six pieces that I feel deserve the exposure and listening they have not yet received.”
These choices include Sam Pilafian’s Relentless Groves II: Armenia, Jorge Salagueiro’s cONCERTO fOR tUBA, Frank Zappa’s Outside Now Again, Juraj Filas’ Sonate, Francois Thuillier’s Rebellion, and Elizabeth Raum’s Tribute. For those of you who love the road less traveled and can go where angels fear to tread, you’ve come to the right spot! This CD will require multiple hearings because there is so much extended range, control, and technique in each work that it oftentimes becomes nearly as big a challenge for the listener as for the performer. It appeals as an auditory smorgasbord that must at times be taken in small bites.
The “cutting edge” feel in these selections presents Mr. McCaslin in a good light as an excellent player, with a definite gift for accuracy in all extremes. Sounding reminiscent of James Grant’s Three Furies, and Penderecki’s Capriccio, it is probably a safe bet that some if not all of these tunes will find their way into the well known tuba literature as players are challenged and emboldened to emulate the performances heard here. Hopefully this CD will serve to inspire the “next generation” of young tubists who will hear and accept this as regular playing, and strive to push the limits even further.
Relentless Grooves with its prerecorded accompaniment that presents folk instrumentation and rhythmic elements is totally successful and accessible. It is an excellent and engaging opener, just as Tribute (to John Griffiths) is a beautiful closer. This CD does stand tall as a fearless presentation of new works for tuba.
~Phillip C. Black, Wichita State University, Wichita Symphony
Two Deuces CD recording by the Original Wildcat Jass Band, featuring Dr. Kelly Thomas, tuba. www.wildcatjass.com. 53:00. $15.
The Original Wildcat Jass Band is based out of Tucson, Arizona and features several members of the University of Arizona’s music faculty, including 2010 ITEC co-host Dr. Kelly Thomas. Professor Thomas studied tuba at Tennessee Tech with Winston Morris before returning to his home state of Arizona to complete a Doctor of Musical Arts under Sam Pilafian at Arizona State and take over the tuba, euphonium, and band duties at University of Arizona. His tuba playing is a more-than-solid foundation for this excellent traditional jazz group. It is always in the rhythmic pocket and shows just enough flash to let the audience know he’s got it without stepping in the way of the rest of the group.
Two Deuces is the band’s third self-produced Dixieland album, following up Introducing the Original Wildcat Jass Band and I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead. This album is as good as having a textbook on how to play Dixieland. Each player does an admirable job of defining the role of his instrument. In particular, Jason Carder’s trumpet/cornet playing could serve as a model for many classical or jazz trumpet majors interested in the stylistic execution of traditional jazz. The roles are further defined because each instrument is well isolated and mixed, in fact this is one of the only recordings this reviewer has heard that included the banjo strongly enough in the mix. Ray Templin and Rob Wright add an extra element to the album with joyous vocals on several tracks. Of course, there are several “tuba moments” on this disc, including a brief solo in Two Deuces and a duet with trombone in King Chanticleer, but where Kelly Thomas really gets the chance to shine is the tuba-featuring arrangement of Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home.
The production and album art for Two Deuces is add credibility to the ensemble before a note is even heard. One minor piece of misinformation is found in Dan Barrett’s otherwise fine and engaging liner notes: Suits are Picking up the Bill is presented as a new addition to the repertoire by the Wildcats, despite the fact that it was released in 1998 on the Squirrel Nut Zippers album Perennial Favorites. This is a minor oversight—highly recommended.
~T.J. Ricer, Doctoral student, Eastman School of Music
Sacred Circle CD recording by the Monumental Brass Quintet. #516. Summit Records.P.O. Box 26850, Tempe, Ariz. 85285-6850. firstname.lastname@example.org. www.summitrecords.com. 2008. $16.99.
There is a wide variety of styles and periods of music on this CD. The jazz style seems to be obligatory, although not all groups can pull it off. Many times, this is more the fault of the arranger in that they make the musicians do things that this reviewer, in his many years of playing in jazz groups, has never heard real jazz musicians actually do. There’s a little of that here in St. Louis Blues and Tin Roof Blues, but they redeem themselves with the rarely heard Bix Biederbecke Davenport Blues. Duke Ellington’s Come Sunday is also a nice touch.
The group really makes some of these tunes their own—the MBQ Fanfare, written for them by bass trombonist and former MBQ member Craig Arnold, is a flash of brilliance. And their excitement shows through in a few numbers arranged by former MBQ tubists Richard McCready and Rusty McKinney, William Byrd’s Non Vos Relinquam Orphanos and Claude Le Jeune Revecy Venir Du Printemps respectively. The Le Jeune piece is especially notable on this recording, as tubist Michael Parker uses a cimbasso for this setting. The cimbasso and trombone parts blend in an unusual way, especially for brass quintet.
The group also makes its mark on the title piece, John Harmon’s The Sacred Circle. Written especially for the MBQ, Harmon bases the composition on the Native American Dream Catcher, mostly in the circular form the work takes. I was especially interested, though, in their inclusion of James Mattern’s Sonata Breve. This reviewer was aquatinted with Mr. Mattern in Chicago and did not know about this piece. A three-movement work, it reminds one of Hindemith. The Monumental Brass Quintet is based in the Washington D.C. area and is very active in performing and education based activities. They have a website at www.monumentalbrass.org.
~Michael Short, Drake University
TUBA U: Basso Profundo DVD recording featuring R. Winston Morris and the Tennessee Tech Tuba Ensemble. Available from WCTE (Upper Cumberland Public Television) at www.wcte.org. $14.99.
For those who may have missed the premiere of this documentary on Public Television this past spring, I am glad to say that the DVD is now available from TWO SIX inc. and WCTE. (Upper Cumberland Public Television)
The national airing of this groundbreaking documentary for our instruments was a real first. Its subject is the wonderful recording and Carnegie Hall performance by a true all-star ensemble of twenty-two Tennessee Tech graduates, assembled by R. Winston Morris. These alums are all major performers, teachers, and pedagogues in this country. The half hour documentary, directed, written, and produced by Todd Jarrell centers largely on the Herculean task by Professor Morris and the ensemble of preparing some nine new pieces by top composers such as Gunther Schuller, Martin Ellerby, and Adam Gorb in only four days before recording them, and later performing them at Carnegie Hall in New York in January 2008.
Being that this is intended for a general audience the documentary also introduces the role of the tuba and euphonium in its early minutes, including a brief section from the Tennessee Tech Marching Band at a football game. It also does fine justice to the career of R. Winston Morris and Winston’s vital role in establishing not only a renowned tuba-euphonium studio at Tennessee Tech, but also the equally renown Tennessee Tech Tuba Ensemble. His important relationships with mentors William Bell and Harvey Phillips are also covered. Early photographs from Winston’s high school and college years will be of great interest to those aware of his exemplary career.
Some other highlights for me were the jaw dropping Bach performance by alum Sgt. Scott Beaver of the West Point Band in the first section of the program; Charles McAdams thoughtful historical comments on Professor Morris and the Tennessee Tech Ensemble; video of rehearsal moments, especially the high energy exultations to the ensemble by Gunther Schuller as they tackled his immensely complex work; and the well-placed comments by other composers and performers such as Adam Gorb and Richard Perry.
Production and sound quality is very high on this DVD. Graphics are not flashy but clean visually. Being a public television release, extra bells and whistles in graphics and extra material is not to be expected. My only wish was that it could have been longer; for I am certain that there was much original footage and subject matter that could not be used when held to a half-hour format. As a result the documentary has to rush somewhat into the Carnegie Hall performance and conclusion at the end.
Still this documentary is a high quality DVD that will be a fine way to introduce our instruments to the music students and the general public, as well as stand as important archival proof of this very successful creative project by titans of our instruments. This DVD is highly recommended.
For those wishing to research more on the subject you should first listen to the CD titled Legacy on Mark Records for this project was massive in scope, commissioning nine major composers for an equal number of new works. The result of this project has drastically improved the repertoire of the tuba-euphonium ensemble genre.
~Scott Watson, University of Kansas
Swing that Music: A Tribute to Louis Armstrong CD recording featuring the Canadian Brass. Opening Day Entertainment Group, Inc. 4805 West Laurel, Suite 100, Tampa, Florida 33607. (800) 488-2378; www.canadianbrassstore.com; email@example.com. ODR7371. 2009. $13.95.
The Canadian Brass, one of the most legendary and recorded brass ensembles on the planet has done it again with a magnificent collection of tunes closely associated with Louis Armstrong or one of the chief arrangers of the “Brass,” Luther Henderson. The collection of seventeen songs, nearly all household names, makes this CD a most enjoyable listening experience. In order of appearance, the play list includes Swing That Music, Carolina Shout, Promenade, Bebop Bach, Cool Bach, Dixie Bach, Struttin’ With Some Barbeque, Sweet Georgia Brown, St. Louis Blues, Black and Blue, Way Down Yonder In New Orleans, Black Bottom Stomp, Strike Up The Band, Sleepless Night, Three-Quarter Blues, Ain’t Misbehavin’, and a special tune associated intimately with Louis Armstrong, Blueberry Hill. Several of the tunes have been previously recorded by the Canadian Brass on such CD recordings as Strike Up the Band and Ain’t Misbehavin’, but all of the tunes on this CD are newly recorded with current personnel and the additions of Ryan Anthony, trumpet, Shachar Israel, trombone, and Blueberry Hill guests Adam James, vocal, and Michael Francis, guitar.
The sound of the quintet is absolutely tops and entertaining as usual. Chuck Daellenbach continues to be one of my heroes on tuba. His attention to bass line ingenuity, tastiness, and exacting rhythm as well as his occasional foyers into taking a solo or two is an inspiration to all. The one time I actually shared the stage with him when the Millikin University Brass Quintet teamed up with the Canadian Brass for a holiday concert continues to be one of the highlights of my musical career!
The eclectic collection is easy to listen to and has something for everyone. The three Luther Henderson Bach arrangements from the Well Tempered Clavier are delightfully interesting renditions of popular Baroque compositions. The comprehensive liner notes add much to the history and timeline of each of the traditional compositions including when Armstrong recorded them and how many times he recorded some of his favorites such as at least 29 times for St. Louis Blues beginning in 1929! A warm tribute in the back of the liner notes by Daellenbach to those making the album possible and to Mr. Armstrong himself is touching, especially since he passed on around the same time the Canadian Brass was just launching. It is a fitting end to an outstanding CD. Do yourself a favor and get this album. It’s an amazing sonic experience!
~Mark Nelson, Pima Community College
The One-Stop Didgeridoo Book! by John Elliott. Evidence Publishing, LLC. Arab, Alabama. www.Tubagear.com. firstname.lastname@example.org. $7.97 (download). $11.97 (CD-ROM).
Every now and then we receive an interesting review item that is not necessarily in the exact modality for a tuba and euphonium journal. However, we all recognize the genealogy of the didgeridoo to be somewhat related to our instruments, even if by proxy only. This nifty CD-ROM contains not only a comprehensive book about how to build and play a digeridoo, it even has many mp3 examples of different sounds and techniques and a separate publication by publisher Dave Gannett on mastering circular breathing! The “book” and related materials either come on a CD-ROM or are available as a download from the parent web site. The only difficulty I found with the CD-ROM is that the materials must be installed as a file on your hard drive and requires a media player (usually on one’s computer) and a .pdf reader (supplied) to access the materials. It does not operate from the CD-ROM itself.
The 32-page booklet by John Elliot, a tubist and a 40 year veteran of the British music scene, is comprehensive. Clear explanations liberally enhanced with photos and a performance section with a logical sequence of appropriate mp3 files to listen to make the read of the text easy and informative. Websites to purchase actual Australian didgeridoos are included as well as what supplies are needed to build one’s own plastic version. There is even a section on how to build a “slide” didgeridoo to change the fundamental pitch during a performance.
The added bonus of Circular Breathing Secrets by Dave Gannett is important to make this CD-ROM complete. Beginning with a series of experiments of trying to breathe through one’s nose while spewing water out of one’s mouth in a steady stream, the practical guide, through a series of more and more challenging experiments, culminates with a logical and practical application of circular breathing appropriate for all wind instruments.
This CD-ROM is an excellent and useful method of publishing guides such as this one and its companion on circular breathing. It is inexpensive and informative. I will be practicing on my own two Australian didgeridoos!
~Mark Nelson, Pima Community College