Mark Nelson, Associate Editor
Materials Received May 1–August 1 with thanks:
Stepping Stones CD recording featuring Scott Watson, tuba
Gravity Dances for tuba quartet by Tony Zilincik
Basso Bravo CD recording featuring Steve Sykes, tuba
Memphis Hang CD recording featuring Jim Shearer, tuba
Romantic Age Brass volume 2 CD recording featuring the New York Brass Quintet
Christmas Tubas CD recording featuring the Tennessee Tech Tuba Ensemble
European Tuba Trio CD recording featuring Anthony Caillet, euphonium, Sérgio Carolino and François Thullier, tubas
2 Tubas and friends CD recording featuring Sérgio Carolino, tuba, Ann Helle Visser, tuba and Michel Lauren, drums
The Postcard Brass Band CD recording featuring Sérgio Carolino, tuba
Steel aLive! CD recording featuring Sérgio Carolino, tuba
Complete Recordings of Paul Droste, Euphonium CD recording
WhiteOrangeBlack CD recording featuring Roland Szentpáli and the Loop Doctors.
Snapshots CD recording featuring Danny Helseth, euphonium
Audacious CD recording featuring Steven Mead, euphonium
I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead! CD recording featuring the Original Wildcat Jass-Band, Kelly Thomas, tuba
You and I CD recording featuring Marty Erickson, tuba
Festival Duets for Tubas by Joseph DeMarsh
Aboard the Black Stallion for tuba and piano by Tom Peterson
Emerald Isle Suite for tuba and piano by Jeremy Schwinger
The Manic Tubist for Solo F Tuba and Tuba/Euphonium Ensemble by Brett Miller
Miniatures for Tuba and Piano by James Woodward
Variations on The New World Symphony for euphonium and piano arranged by James Woodward
Concerto for Euphonium (piano reduction) by James Woodward
Jig for tuba and piano by Tyler Avis Capp
Sonata Pian’ E Forte by Giovanni Gabrieli arranged for 8-part tuba-euphonium ensemble by George Palton
March Slave by P.I. Tchiakovsky arranged for 8-part tuba-euphonium ensemble by George Palton
Suite for Unaccompanied Tuba by Brian Rice
Three Moods for tuba and piano by Rob Teehan
Rock Bottom for tuba and piano by David Uber
Mark My Words for tuba and piano by James Grant
Dapper’s Tune for tuba and piano by David Uber
Wind Song for tuba and piano by Michael Rosbarsky
Lights of Loveland for flugelhorn, tenor sax, tuba, piano, bass, and drums by Stefan Kac
George Washington Bicentennial March by John Philip Sousa arranged for tuba-euphonium quartet by David Butler
Visons for brass quintet by David Uber
Hearts Entwined for tuba-euphonium quartet by John Stevens
The Four Troubadours for tuba-euphonium quartet by David Uber
Oompah Suite for Horn and Tuba by Jan Bach
River Songs for three euphoniums and tuba by David Uber
Quartet for the End of Music for bass clarinet, cello, tuba, and percussion by Chappell Kingsland
Europa for tuba-euphonium quartet by Brett Miller
Amalthea for tuba-euphonium quartet by Brett Miller
Elegy for Keating Johnson for 5-part tuba-euphonium ensemble by Michael Rosbarsky
Voodoo for tuba and piano by Robert Grenier
Midnight Shakes the Memory for euphonium and piano by Neal Corwell
Deep Calls to Deep (At the Thunder of Your Waterspouts) for tuba and piano by Warner Hutchison
The Hollow for euphonium and piano by Andrew Creagh
Dementia for tuba or euphonium and piano by Andrew Creagh
Concertino for tuba and piano by Armando Luis Ramírez
A Mighty Fortress by Martin Luther arranged for brass quintet by Timothy Carpenter
Trumpet Sonata for Queen Christina by Arcangelo Corelli arranged for brass quintet by Joseph S. Kaminski
Kyrie eleison by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina arranged for brass quartet by Randy Snyder
Prelude to Te Deum by Marc-Antoine Charpentier arranged for brass quartet by Randy Snyder
Face in the Street Blues for tuba-euphonium quartet by Bellyroll Norton
Fugue XVI in g minor by J.S. Bach arranged for brass quartet by Randy Snyder
Mable’s Reefer Rag for tuba-euphonium quartet by Bellyroll Norton
Bushes and Briars by Ralph Vaughan Williams for tuba-euphonium quartet by Chris Dickey
Appalachian Folk Hymns for Brass arranged for brass sextet by Michael Brown
Aragonaise for euphonium and piano by Joe Miserendino
You-Tubas for tuba-euphonium quartet by Joe Cea
Tea for Tubas for tuba-euphonium quartet by Joe Cea
Dismissed, Go Serve the Lord for brass quartet and organ by Randy Snyder
Scenes for Brass for brass quintet by Jack Cooper
Festival Brass, Quintets for the Easter and Christmas Seasons arranged for brass quintet by Timothy Carpenter
Come Thou Font/Come All ChristiansQuodlibet arranged for brass quintet by Timothy Carpenter
Minuet from the “Notebook for Anna Magdalena” by J.S Bach arranged for brass quintet by Joseph S. Kaminski
Ode to Joy Fanfare by Ludwig van Beethoven arranged for brass quintet by Joseph S. Kaminski
Joy of Passover for brass quintet by Joe Friedman
Little Suite No. 5 for solo serpent by Barton Cummings
Blue Rondo A La Turk by Dave Brubeck arranged for brass quintet by Timothy Carpenter
Sonata for Euphonium and Piano “Child’s Play” by Barbara York
Sonata for Tuba and Piano “Shamanic Journey” by Barbara York
El Toro Loco for tuba ensemble by Kenneth D. Friedrich
Through the Eyes of Innocence for flute, tuba and piano by Kenneth Friedrich
A Morning Fog for euphonium and organ by Kenneth D. Friedrich
Fantasie and Variations on “The Carnival of Venice” freely arranged for tuba and piano by F.I. Nale
Jazz Suite for tuba quartet by Lewis J. Buckley
Three Perspectives for tuba quartet by Elizabeth Raum
The PC Tuba Quartet: “Traditional Values” for tuba quartet by Barbara York
Tuba Quartet: “Funk” for tuba quartet by James Woodward
liu quan ju shi for solo tuba by Xiiao Ying
Soloist Folio for Tuba complied and transcribed by Micky Wrobleski
Salvation is Created by P. Tschesnokoff arranged for three trombones and tuba by Micky Wrobleski
Preparatory Studies for Orchestral Excerpts, Book One by Tim Olt
Autour de babel for solo tuba by Daniel Schvetz
Arabesco IV for solo tuba by Carlos Marques (Balaú)
Peçade de Concerto for tuba and piano by António Victorino D’Almedia
Patita for Solo Tuba by Hendrik de Regt
Trombone Sam by Luther Fisher and Martin Sperzel arranged for brass quintet by Harry Stanton
Divertimento for Brass Quintet, op. 31 by Stephen Kemp
A String of Tones for tuba-euphonium quartet by Antony Roper
Reggae Tuba Christmas for tuba-euphonium quartet by Peter Smalley
Suite for Horn, Tuba, and Piano “Dancing with Myself” by Barbara York
The Big Trombone and Sterling Brass CD recording featuring Jeffrey Reynolds, bass trombone and Daniel Perantoni, tuba
Obstination for two tubas by Adriana Verdié
In “C” Nuation for two tubas by Adriana Verdié
24 Progressive Vocalises by H. Panofka arranged for tuba and piano by Wesley Jacobs
Escape from the Matrix for euphonium and piano by Ken Davies
[Editor’s note: thanks to all the individuals and publishers who donated music and recordings for review at ITEC 2008. It will take several issues to process all reviews!]
REVIEWED IN THIS ISSUE:
A Tribute from the East for euphonium and marimba by Jiro Censhu
The Journey Home for euphonium and piano by Martin Mikles
Call of the Seasons for euphonium and piano by Philip Catelinet
Concerto for Euphonium for solo euphonium and orchestra by Clarence Barber
Cyanic Ballade for euphonium and piano by Jiro Censhu
Sonata for Euphonium and Piano by James M. Stephenson, III
Tuba Tooter: A comprehensive tutor book for E-flat tuba players by Richard Fox
Mark My Words for tuba and piano by James Grant
Oompah Suite for horn and tuba by Jan Bach
Brass Quintet/Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble/Chamber Music
Gravity Dances for tuba quartet by Tony Zilincik
Washington Post March by John Philip Sousa transcribed for tuba-euphonium quartet by David Sabourin
The Madding Crowd for brass quintet by Lansing D. McLoskey
Reggae Tuba Christmas arranged for tuba-euphonium quartet by Peter Smalley
Stepping Stones for Tuba vol. 1 CD recording featuring Scott C. Watson, tuba and Ellen R. Bottorff, piano
Uber Brass CD recording by Stanley Schumacher and the Music Now Ensemble, David Hofstra, tuba
From the Back Row CD recording featuring the Pitttsburgh Symphony Low Brass Section: Peter Sullivan and Rebecca Bower Cherian, tenor trombones; Murray Crewe, bass trombone; Craig Knox, tuba
The Odd Couple CD recording featuring Jim Self, tuba and Ron Kalina, harmonica assisted by Larry Koonse, electric and acoustic guitar, Tom Warrington, string bass, and Joe La Barbera, drums
From Age To Age CD recording featuring the Denver Brass with Lowell Graham, conductor, and Joseph Galema, Organ
Solo Eclipse CD recording featuring Kenneth Amis, tuba, Bill McHenry, tenor saxophone, and the MIT Wind Ensemble
Christmas Tubas CD recording featuring the Tennessee Tech Tuba Ensemble directed by R. Winston Morris
Baritones to the Fore! CD recording featuring Diana Herak, Katrina Marzella, Rob Richardson, and Helen Tyler, baritones
A Tribute from the East for euphonium and marimba by Jiro Censhu. Euphonium.com, LLC, P.O. Box 81727, Conyers, Ga., 30013 USA. 2005. www.euphonium.com. Approximate Duration 7:30. $22.
As one who gives a lot of recital performances on the euphonium annually, I am sold on the idea that it is no longer really acceptable to give a performance that consists purely of euphonium and piano music. What brings me to this conclusion is the plethora of works that are now available for euphonium with a variety of accompaniments. There is a lot of great music that has been written for euphonium and…well, you name it, and it has or is being written.
One of the instruments that I have always enjoyed performing with and hearing together with the euphonium is the marimba. Obviously, the work we all know in this genre is Samuel Adler’s Four Dialogues from 1974, but several other great euphonium and marimba pieces dot our repertoire’s landscape. I am delighted to see this work by Jiro Censhu now among these works, even though it’s not surprising that it comes from him. In spite of this being his first work for euphonium and marimba, in his nine works for euphonium, only three are for solo euphonium and piano. (The rest are for tuba-euphonoium octet, tuba-euphonium quartet, and euphonium duet, quintet, or sextet.)
This work, A Tribute from the East, was composed in July 2007 for the Swiss duo “Synthesis,” consisting of Thomas Ruedi, euphonium, and Raphael Christen, marimba. It was premiered on April 20, 2008 in Munsterlingen, Switzerland and was meant as “a gift of friendship from far away Japan” to celebrate the birth of this duo. Like his other works, this is a piece that is Japanese in its flavor, having distinct harmonies and colors that are quickly recognizable in their origin.
Set in a ballad arch form of ABCBA, this is a work that is accessible to most players, especially in the A and B sections of the work. With this said, however, the C section of the composition presents a moderate challenge to even seasoned performers, as the tempo is essentially double-time, the technique and range become more demanding in terms of versatility, and the time signature changes the overall feel of the composition. While the range of the piece stretches from C to b-flat1, the way it is presented will present a good challenge. As a final note, the marimba part is legitimately demanding throughout the work, making it absolutely essential that a great musician be behind the instrument.
As with almost everything that comes from Euphonium.com, the work has a smart appearance, and, with the exception of the marimba part, is well laid out in terms of the page turns. This work comes highly recommended for the serious euphonium player’s repertoire.
~Jason D. Ham, Yamaha Performing Artist, Montclair State University
The Journey Home for euphonium and piano by Martin Mikles. Euphonium.com, LLC, PO Box 81727, Conyers, Ga., 30013 USA. 2005. www.euphonium.com. Approximate Duration 7:30. $12.
Those of you familiar with the world of Contemporary Christian Music (as you would probably find it labeled in media stores such as Best Buy) may be familiar with the name Marty Mikles. Being one who plays as much of this genre as euphonium music in the car, I can tell you that this is a name you should watch, as his latest album (Unfailing Love) only reinforces the thought I had when his first album (Running In Circles) came out: this is a voice I will most definitely hear again.
What I had not planned on was seeing Marty’s name on the cover of a work that I would be reviewing for the ITEA Journal. Nevertheless, if you are familiar with his other work as a worship leader and Christian artist, what might surprise you a bit is that his background includes a Bachelor of Music degree from Georgia State University in Atlanta, where he studied trombone, composition, and arranging.
Passionate about his walk with the Lord Jesus Christ, in this case, Marty chose the familiar Bible story of the Prodigal Son from the gospel of Luke (chapter 15) as the subject matter for his work for euphonium and piano, The Journey Home. While there is perhaps no music on the planet earth that can capture the depth of the passion of this story found in Luke’s gospel, Marty has definitely gotten close, and, fortunately, he chose the right voice to carry the solo line (but who’s biased?)
The work itself is fairly simple and straightforward. A lush ballad, the work opens with a short solo introduction from the euphonium, before the piano joins to complete the missing harmonies. A single melody dominates the composition and is given slight changes through a key change as well as a bit of embellishment before returning to an original key with a different accompaniment (block chords).
This work is definitely approachable from a variety of levels and is easy in terms of the composition’s range (A to b-flat1). It is presented well in its publication through Euphonium.com and comes highly recommended, especially for those who chose to use their playing for something bigger than themselves or the euphonium.
~Jason D. Ham, Yamaha Performing Artist, Montclair State University
Call of the Seasons by Philip Catelinet for euphonium and piano. Euphonium.com, LLC, P.O. Box 81727, Conyers, Ga., 30013 USA. www.euphonium.com. Grade 4. 8:20. $17.
Philip Bramwell Catelinet is a name most tubists will recognize because he premiered Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Concerto for Bass Tuba with the London Symphony Orchestra. Also an accomplished euphoniumist and composer, Catelinet created nearly three hundred works for various ensembles. Yamaha Performing Artist Adam Frey’s Euphonium.com has grown into an excellent resource for euphonium players and the publishing portion of that site is dedicated to making specialty music for the euphonium available and easily accessible. With Call of the Seasons, Frey reintroduces a warhorse of a traditional brass band euphonium solo. It is available, for the first time, in a very clear, readable computer-generated typeset. Euphonium.com’s publishing is high quality with a colorful cardstock cover to protect the piano score and euphonium parts included in both treble and bass clefs.
A typical theme and variation brass solo, Call of the Seasons is a flashy piece that will require the euphoniumist to use many of the tools in their “bag of tricks.” The range of F to c2 (with an optional d-flat2 to close the second variation) will be challenging but not impossible for the advanced student performer. The overall tessitura remains fairly high, and the euphonium player is expected to repeatedly ascend to bb1 and c2.
Call of the Seasons has an extra unifying element over many theme and variation solos, in that the theme and each of the three variations are meant to represent one of the four seasons. Which variation corresponds to which season is not explicitly stated and Euphonium.com suggests, “One fun exercise for players and audience involves determining which sections of the piece represent the various seasons.”
The opening slow, somber statement of the theme allows the player to demonstrate a beautiful sound and sense of phrasing alongside fluid technique in the form of rapid scalar descents. The first variation picks up the tempo and makes use of conjunct sixteenth-note passages, contrasting triplets and duplets. The tempo is slowed through metric modulation for the second variation. The quarter note from the previous 2/4 section becomes the eighth note in this slower 9/8 feel. This relatively simple variation is a chance for the euphonium player to display their mid-range sound and give the audience an aural break before the higher-faster-louder finale. The finale is the longest variation, comprising about a third of the total duration of the piece. It will require excellent flexibility and quick fingers. This is a very audience-friendly euphonium showpiece for recitals and concerts. This new, clear edition should only expand the popularity of an already established piece of the solo literature.
~T.J. Ricer, Doctoral Student, Eastman School of Music
Concerto for Euphonium by Clarence Barber for solo euphonium and orchestra. Ludwig Music Publishing Company. 1044 Vivian Drive, Grafton, Ohio 44044. (440) 926-1100; www.Ludwigmusic.com. Catalogue # 15260002 (orchestra – rental), 10540001 (piano – $30). 2007.
Clarence Barber has again shown his ability to successfully compose works for the tuba/euphonium family. Mr. Barber is not only a band director in Grafton, Ohio, but he is also the Chief Editor for Ludwig Music Company. This composition was written for Cleveland Orchestra bass trombonist Thomas Klaber.
The concerto is in three movements “Allegro,” “Adagio e espressivo,” and “Allegro moderato.” The range of the solo is C to d-flat2. A recording is available of this work from Ludwig Music with Earle Louder playing the solo.
Barber describes the piece, “The writing is melodic yet contemporary with the rhythmic twists and interplay characteristic of my work.” The opening movement presents the main melodic motif in the euphonium. This motif is then modulated throughout the movement. This very accessible melody is then passed throughout the orchestra. The scoring in this first movement and throughout is fairly sparse making it easy for the listener to track the solo euphonium. The second movement provides the most stirring musical moments in the work. The melody is a beautiful tune, and Mr. Barber has done a wonderful job of framing the euphonium with the accompaniment. He has also captured the true melodic ability of the euphonium with this movement. The third movement is very rhythmic in nature and is a nice contrast to the extremely lyrical second movement. Depending on the choice of tempo, this movement will require the soloist to double tongue. The movement concludes with a brief cadenza and then a final statement of the melodic material.
I recommend this solo for the undergraduate college soloist. The writing is not difficult; however, a level of maturity is required to play a solo accompanied by an orchestra. In my opinion, the tempo of the first and third movement could be a little faster which would also add to the excitement of the work.
~Kelly Thomas, University of Arizona
Cyanic Ballade by Jiro Censhu for euphonium and piano. Euphonium.com. 7230 Cloverhurst Court, Cumming, Ga. 30041. www.euphonium.com. 2008. $16.
Jiro Censhu has again shown his ability to successfully compose works for the solo euphonium. Mr. Censhu has held teaching positions at the Osaka University of Arts. He studied composition under Taminosuke Matsumoto and Komei Abe. He has written several successful works for the euphonium, most notably A Walk in the Woods. The piece was written in 1998 originally for bass trombone and piano but revised in 2000 for euphonium and piano. It was dedicated to and premiered by Ryuji Ushigami.
The notes in the solo state,
“This composition follows a clear three-part form set as a short scherzo. The A section is rapid and based on the intervals of a fourth in the melody as well as chords that bring in a contrasting mood with provocation and mellowness. The B section features a moderately slow tempo and is meditative. The title, Cyanic Ballade, contains a double vision and meaning: beautiful cyanic flowers and poisonous cyanic acid. Both vastly different in appearance and purpose, and the piece reflects the complex contrasts.”
It is not clear whether these notes were written by Mr. Censhu or if they were later added in by the publisher. A large amount of information is contained in the notes about Mr. Censhu as well as other works he has written. This is extremely helpful as it is difficult to find information on Mr. Censhu.
The range of this solo is A to g1,and the writing is very precise and well notated. The melodic writing in this work is simple yet effective. As stated earlier, it is based on the interval of a fourth. The melody is very enjoyable and collaborates well with the accompaniment. Mr. Censhu is very clear in what he wants performed. There is a dynamic marking and/or articulation for almost every note. However, there are several times where notes and dynamics “collide” in the music notation. There are also several occurrences where crescendos are inside of slur markings on the notation. These minor issues do not take away from the overall quality of the work.
I recommend this solo for the advanced high school/early undergraduate college soloist. The writing is not difficult; however, a level of accuracy is required with all the leaps in the melody. This work will engage and expose the young soloist to a composer with whom he/she may not have experienced beforehand.
~Kelly Thomas, University of Arizona
Sonata for Euphonium and Piano by James M. Stephenson, III. Euphonium.com. 7230 Cloverhurst Court, Cumming, Ga. 30041. www.euphonium.com. 2007. $30.
James Stephenson’s Sonata for Euphonium and Piano was commissioned by Adam Frey for premiere at the International Euphonium Institute in 2007. Stephenson is a member of the trumpet section of the Naples Philharmonic. His music has been performed by many of today’s leading orchestras, including the Cleveland Orchestra and the symphonies of Atlanta, Detroit, and Baltimore.
The piece, which was a finalist in the 2008 ITEA Harvey Phillips Awards for Excellence in Composition, is in a standard three-movement form. The composer states the following about the work:
“The first movement is the heaviest of the three, hovering around B minor most of the time and experimenting with different usages of various four-note patterns. It is written as a brisk march, and harmonically evokes Mahlerian imagery with the use of a raised 7th over a minor chord. The second movement is a response to the disquiet raised in the first. It is the simplest of songs, meant to feature the euphonium’s elegant lyrical playing and beautiful sound. The piano part is almost minimalist mid-way through the movement, as I hoped to create tension through simplicity. The third movement is a semi-rondo. The opening theme is repeated throughout, usually slightly varied, with the bulk of the movement being dedicated to an angular and disjunct digression. Generally, it is light-hearted and provides a D major resolution to the B minor tension presented in the first movement.”
The most unique aspect of this solo is the interaction with the piano throughout all the movements. Stephenson has done a wonderful job crafting the two parts to become one musical idea. The melodic writing is very enjoyable as well as “recognizable.” The most difficult challenges for the performer come in the second and third movement. The second movement is very demanding for the soloist regarding endurance. The movement finishes with twelve counts of a high a1 tapering a niente. The end of the third movement is the other hurdle to this work. The last two pages provide unrelenting technical playing (in the key of D major) that still demands a lyrical presentation of the solo. It will be a challenge for even the experienced performer.
The printing and cleanliness of this work are of the highest quality. The composer has been very sensitive to the page turn needs of the performer. The range of the solo is A to c2. The solo is notated in the tenor clef several times. I would recommend this solo for a junior/senior undergraduate soloist.
~Kelly Thomas, University of Arizona
Tuba Tooter: A comprehensive tutor book for E-flat tuba players by Richard Fox. Foxy Dots Music, The King’s Church, Marsh Lane, Addlestone, Surrey, United Kingdom KT15 1UL. www.foxydotsmusic.co.uk. 2004. £14.50.
Tuba Tooter is a very interesting method book for young players. Inside, it is an attractive looking page setup and will hold the attention of the students. There is an introduction that imparts a great deal of information without being excessively wordy, a danger when dealing with young students. The section on “How to hold your tuba” includes pictures of Mr. Fox (a teacher of tuba at Surrey University) showing the proper posture and holding positions, a section on “Breathing,” “Tuba Maintenance” (often ignored by these kinds of publications), and “How to practice” (which has some especially good advice). Thereafter, the book is divided into “Sessions” and numbered 1 through 16. Each Session could be a single lesson, but, if the student is young, it might mean two or three lessons, depending on that student.
In an effort to keep the attention of the young, there are drawings on nearly every page. These are of an animated tuba running, reading, climbing stairs, and the like. I may be too old for that, but I was certainly reminded of the obnoxious paper clip that Microsoft keeps throwing at me, thinking they can help me with my ITEA Journal reviews. Many of the lines of music have titles, such as “Sea Scales,” “Same Difference,” “Toe Tipping Tappers,” and “Heavy Pendulum.” One of my favorites was near the back of the book, “Sequential Hero.” As I played it, I suddenly realized this was the ascending sequence near the beginning of Richard Strauss’ Heldenleben. Of course, this will go past the young students much like the jokes in the old Looney Tunes cartoons go past them.
The two best features of the book deal with the teaching of style. First, there is a CD included with the book. In the book it tells you what track corresponds to the line you are playing. For instance, “Sequential Hero” is Track 46. When you play this on your CD player, you will hear a MIDI accompaniment with a tuba playing the printed line. After that, the MIDI plays again but now without the solo, so the student may play along. Or, the student may play with the recorded tuba sound. A few of the tracks have three other tubas playing along so that you are part of a tuba quartet.
Second, there is a feature throughout the book called “Bassline Academy,” numbered 1 through 12. Each of these deals with the different styles that a tuba may be called to accompany. There are a few marches, a 6/8 march, rhythm changes, the waltz, the Bossa Nova, Calypso, and even New Orleans Jazz. The important thing is the modeling done by Mr. Fox on the recording since some of these are of course not printed with any different articulations than another style.
The one drawback has to do with some of the terminology. There is quite a bit of talk about “quavers” and “crotchets,” which of course is no problem for our friends in the United Kingdom, but here in the States, we don’t use those terms at all. I’ve always been of the opinion that a book is only as good as the teacher using it, and you can certainly get around this quite easily. At least the book is in bass clef—that would be a more significant hurdle to using this book in the U.S. Also, it moves quite quickly. I think I would not start a student on it, but rather give it to him in the 7th or 8th grade and let him skip over the first few sessions.
~Michael Short, Drake University
Mark My Words for tuba and piano by James Grant. Tuba-Euphonium Press. www.tubaeuphoniumpress.com. 2007. $12.
Having known James Grant for over fifteen years, I was quite gratified to be honored with a new recital work recognizing my long professional and personal relationship with this amazing composer. Mark My Words was composed in February 2007 and premiered on April 19, 2007 by Mark Nelson, tuba and Marie Sierra, piano at a faculty recital at Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona. The work, in the words of the composer, “…sounded like Charlie Brown doing a funky cha-cha (think jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi’s Linus and Lucy).” It is that and much more. Elements of Grant’s first solo tuba work, The Three Furies, composed in 1993, also appear in the middle section of this ABA composition that pays homage to the composer taking the first plunge into the compositional possibilities of writing for the tuba and euphonium. Fortunately, the tempo is not too fast (quarter note = 108–112), and the mood is decidedly mellow making Mark My Words a much more accessible work to a wider audience of performers.
The typeset is first rate and page turns for the tubist are a breeze. The tuba range is a conservative EE-flat to d with ossias everywhere the range goes above the staff. It truly is an accessible and original work for tuba and piano that can be played well by any competent performer with good rhythm and a basic tuba range. At around five minutes, it is also a good one-movement recital piece for virtually any occasion. The piano part is not too difficult and more idiomatic than many compositions requiring piano that I have reviewed in the past.
James Grant has a growing repertoire of works for the tuba and euphonium including several solos and a new tuba-euphonium quartet, tba4tet, which was premiered at ITEC 2008. His complete works for tuba and euphonium are all published by Tuba-Euphonium Press and can also be found with his biography at www.jamesgrantmusic.com. I hope his compositional career intersects with the tuba and euphonium world again in the near future!
~Mark Nelson, Pima Community College
Brass Quintet/Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble/Chamber Music
Gravity Dances for tuba quartet by Tony Zilincik. Cimarron Music Press, 15 Corrina Lane Salem, Conn., 06420. www.cimarronmusic.com. #CM 1477. 2008. 5:45. $20.
Tony Zilincik is Assistant Professor of Music at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. Aside from his teaching responsibilities, Mr. Zilincik keeps busy as a player with the Newark-Granville Symphony Orchestra, the Cathedral Brass, and the Ceremony Brass. To balance the teaching and performing aspects of his career, he is also a prolific composer, having performances of his works in the United States and Europe. Many of his works are published by Cimarron Music, including this new quartet Gravity Dances. You can listen to further works and discover more about Mr. Zilincik by visiting www.myspace.com/tonyzilincik.
The composer wanted to honor Igor Stravinsky compositionally through the medium of tuba quartet. The name “Gravity Dances” came about through the working and reworking of the letters of Stravinsky’s name. The word “Gravity” kept appearing in many combinations as Mr. Zilincik worked with the anagrams. Apparently the connection between the anagram study and the “weight of our majestic instruments” yielded the name Gravity Dances.
Scored for the standard two euphoniums and two tubas, Gravity Dances is scored in three untitled movements (fast, slow, faster). Stravinsky’s influence on the work is apparent both from a rhythmic and tonal perspective. The first movement opens with a powerful pesante at a quarter note equaling 152 bpm with composite rhythms being hugely important. The rhythmic interest of the movement is supported by sometimes two and at other times three voices while the melodic interest is carried by either the first euphonium or both euphoniums playing together in octaves. Movement two, ABA in form, opens with a slow (quarter note at 68 bpm), soft, pizzicato composite rhythmic figure which appears in three voices throughout the A and B section of the movement, though the three voices do change as the theme, first stated by euphonium I is passed to tuba I. The rhythmic interest is then carried by the inner two voices in the A’ section while the theme is stated by euphonium I and tuba II, two octaves apart. Movement three opens with a declamatory forte theme in three parallel octaves with the half note marked at 84 bpm. Again, in Stravinsky-like fashion, the rhythmic foundation is stated first in one voice then passed throughout with overlapping layers used to build to sharp musical climaxes. The range required to perform this work is as follows: euphonium 1 from G to b1, euphonium 2 from E to e, tuba 1 from C to e-flat, and tuba 2 from CC to e. Neither the range nor rhythmic complexity of this work should prevent even a reasonably accomplished quartet from performing it.
The main challenges presented in this work are the alignment of octaves and double octaves as well as a strong sense of rhythm being present throughout the group. Because of the relatively short length of the composition it probably will not be used as a feature work on a recital. I think this is a very worthy effort for a college quartet or even an advanced high school ensemble. It provides challenges for the performers and still provides an enjoyable experience for an audience.
~Mike Dunn, University of Colorado
Washington Post March by John Philip Sousa transcribed for tuba-euphonium quartet by David Sabourin. Cherry Classics Music,5462 Granville Street, Vancouver, B.C. V6M 3C3 Canada. (604) 261-5454;
firstname.lastname@example.org; www.Cherry-Classics.com. 1983. $12.50
Everybody loves a march, and it’s good to have at least one on your ensemble program. This march has long been a favorite on band concerts and translates well to a tuba ensemble. This is written for two euphoniums and two tubas, but I think you could put more players on each part, as long as you were careful about the musical balance. If you buy this, I think you may want to edit just a bit. The intro and first two strains are fine as is—they are each repeated. I’m a little mystified as to why Mr. Sabourin did not repeat anything after the trio. The repeats could easily be added, and with them, of course, the different dynamics that really make a march like this shine.
There are at least two typos here—the repeat sign at the end of the Intro for repeating the first section is missing in the score, and in the euphonium 1 part the a-flat should be a-natural (like it is in the repeat measure). The key mystifies me just a little. I understand starting in E-flat instead of C, but then comes the trio. When I played in the Karl King Band, we did so many marches that the old timers told me that “trio” was Italian for “add a flat.” Maybe they were just pulling my leg. Here, the trio goes to B-flat. It’s not exactly jarring, in the same way that going to A major would have been but it does turn your head. Maybe that’s to keep the range on the first part from getting too high. Oh, and there are no treble clef parts for the euphoniums. I understand that that would make it more expensive and everybody should learn bass clef sooner or later. The range of the parts are euphonium 1 B-flat to f1, euphonium 2 B-flat to e-flat1, tuba 1 F to b-flat, and tuba 2 FF to c.
~Michael Short, Drake University
The Madding Crowd for brass quintet by Lansing D. McLoskey. Available through the composer at www.lansingmcloskey.com/works.html. 18:00. Grade 6.
Lansing McLoskey, composition professor at the University of Miami, wrote TheMadding Crowd for the Triton Brass, a quintet that serves as artists-in-residence at Boston College, MIT, and the Boston Conservatory. The Madding Crowd is an incredibly demanding piece for each individual of the quintet and presents a comparable number of ensemble challenges. The piece consists of six sections without breaks: an introduction, 1st trumpet solo, 2nd trumpet solo (on cornet), horn solo, trombone solo, and tuba solo. Considering this, the piece serves as a feature for each member of the brass quintet and in score order no less.
The introduction is a series of tutti staccato tone clusters interspersed with various amounts of silence, ranging from a fraction of a beat to ten seconds long. This gradually transcends to continuous sixteenth notes that are shared and traded by combinations of voices, ultimately making a segue into the 1st trumpet solo. All of the solo parts have a section of unmeasured playing while other voices remain in time, which requires a loose coordination between the solo part and ensemble. In addition, the more aggressive sections (1st trumpet, horn, and tuba) also contain Ad libitum solo sections for a specified number of beats. These more aggressive sections are interspersed with the “melancholic” and “dreamlike” solos for horn and trombone, respectively.
This piece will provide a challenge to any professional brass quintet, and the tessituras of the parts are reasonable for professionals. The first trumpet part calls for a C or B-flat trumpet and B-flat Flügelhorn, and the second trumpet part calls for C or B-flat trumpet, B-flat Flügelhorn, and B-flat cornet. Although the technical demands are considerable in all parts, there are no “extended techniques” idiomatic only to brass instruments. In fact, this piece has the character of five-voice electronic music, with each part written in the proper registers of a traditional brass quintet. The Madding Crowd is most appropriate for musicians and audience members ready for an aural and technical challenge.
~Jason Byrnes, University of Northern Colorado
Reggae Tuba Christmas arranged by Peter Smalley for tuba-euphonium quartet. Studio Music Company. Cadence House, Eaton Green Road, Luton, Beds., LU2 9LD, England. +44 (0)1582 432139; Fax: +44 (0)1582 731989; www.studio-music.co.uk; email@example.com. 2007. £9.00.
Here is a fresh look at traditional Christmas songs using reggae as a unifying style. Songs include We Three Kings, Deck the Halls, O Come All Ye Faithful, The First Noel, Good King Wenceslas, Jingle Bells, God Rest You Merry Gentlemen, The Twelve Days of Christmas, Silent Night, and a couple of less familiar tunes. Each song is treated with a four bar intro as though Bob Marley himself wrote it that launches the melody. The melodies average around eight measures in length somewhat contorted into the reggae style giving the audience just enough information to recognize each new song. What is nice is that all parts are featured throughout the medley instead of confining the melodies to only the euphonium I part.
The ranges are conservative and all parts can be played by a good high school ensemble. Ranges include euphonium I c to f1, euphonium II c to c1, tuba I C to d, and tuba II FF to c. The set of parts are well designed and include the “world” set of treble clef and bass clef euphonium parts, 1st tuba in bass clef, treble clef and E-flat treble clef, and 2nd tuba in bass clef and treble clef.
The music is not very complicated. The key signature stays in either A-flat major or F minor, and the rhythms are confined to quarter notes and eighth notes all in duple time without much syncopation. It is definitely an accessible quartet for many types of tuba-euphonium ensembles. At 4:30, it is also just the right length for a medley that will hold the audience’s attention. If there is any complaint at all, the recurring four bar intro seems to get just a little too repetitive as the vehicle to introduce each new melody.
~Mark Nelson, Pima Community College
Oompah Suite for horn and tuba by Jan Bach. Tuba-Euphonium Press. www.tubaeuphoniumpress.com. 2007. $20.
Jan Bach is no stranger to the brass world primarily for his groundbreaking work for brass quintet. This suite, written for Jay Hunsberger and James Wilson, asks the following question in the composer’s words: “How many different ways can a tuba and horn alternate in their playing without resorting to the standard German Band ‘Oompah’?”
The six movements all studiously avoid any sort of “oompah.” They include Intrada, Burlesca, Stimmtausche Promenade, Galop, Sicilian Canon, and Gigue. All are fairly short movements with the last being the longest. The tuba range is GG to a1 although most of the movements have a smaller range. The horn range has a similar maximum range.
Each movement is a small compositional gem. This suite is only going to work if both players get to know each other’s parts and can count extremely well. Tricky syncopations, odd meters, quarter step drops with hand for the horn, duple against triple, and many instances of lead and follow rhythms all require pretty advanced players to pull off the piece. One of the more unusual movements is the one entitled Stimmtausche Promenade, or roughly translated as “voice tradeoff.” It is an interesting two-measure tradeoff of melody verses accompaniment where each voice reverses roles every two measures until the final bars. The Galop comes closest to any kind of on-beat verses offbeat, but it is still far from any kind of oompah stereotype!
I find this suite quite intriguing from both a compositional standpoint as well as a blend of horn and tuba sonorities. They really are kindred spirits. Both are conical, and the F tuba is actually only an octave lower in range than the F side of a standard double horn. The score layout for each part is outstanding accounting for all potentially awkward page turns by having each movement open face out and already having the third page of the last movement included as an extra copy to spread out on the stand. Jan Bach does not disappoint, and the chance to do this work on a recital is simply too good to pass up.
~Mark Nelson, Pima Community College
This CD includes the following repertoire: Suite for Tuba by Don Haddad, Lento by Paul Holmes, Drei Bagatellen by Bertold Humel, Air and Bouree by J.S. Bach, arr. Wm. Bell, Suite for Tuba and Piano by Vaclav Nelhybel, Sonatina by Walter Hartley, Variations on the Theme of “Judas Macabeus” by G.F. Handel/Ludwig Van Beethoven, Concertpiece No. 2 by Rodger Vaughan, Elegy by Rodger Vaughan, The Jolly Roger by Jeremy Schwinger, Arioso by Warren Benson, Honor and Arms by G.F. Handel, trans. Russell Harvey and Six Solos for the Beginning Tuba Player, Op. 39 by James Barnes.
This effort by Scott Watson (Professor of Tuba/Euphonium, University of Kansas) and Ellen Bottorff (Collaborative Piano Faculty, University of Kansas) is a world class example of how master musicians can take a composition, regardless of its perceived level of difficulty, and turn the phrases with such control that one cannot help but sit up and take notice. This album demonstrates the importance of putting personality into your interpretation. I think it was Kurt Cobain who said, “That’s what music is: entertainment. The more you put yourself into it, the more of you comes out in it.”Mr. Watson’s personality definitely comes through in each of these compositions.
This recording features 18 tunes, nine of which are geared toward the accomplished high school musician and the other nine geared for the younger musician. Scott used the E-flat and CC tubas in this recording, and his sound is rich, sonorous and warm throughout…a perfect example of what I want my students to strive for. His articulations provide wonderful models and his phrasing is artfully rendered. Mr. Watson’s interpretation of these standards is something I will expose all of my students to. I enjoyed re-learning some of the lesser known works represented here and applaud the inclusion of the new work by Jeremy Schwinger, The Jolly Roger, composed for this recording, and was particularly pleased to see the James Barnes, Six Solos for the Beginning Tuba Player, Op. 39 also on this recording. The only thing by way of criticism I have about this CD is that there were a few minor spelling errors in the superb liner notes.
I recall as a young student having only three recordings to reference for solo tuba music. The artists were Bill Bell, Harvey Phillips, and Peter Popiel. I wore the grooves off those old vinyl albums while cutting my teeth on some of the early literature for solo tuba. These recordings have obviously stood the test of time and through the ensuing years we have observed an explosion of new recordings for us to enjoy and use in our quest to learn “new” literature. The vast majority of these recordings feature repertoire that is mostly geared for the advanced tubist. As a matter of fact, other than the three previously mentioned recordings, I can only think of two others, the SoloPro: Tuba recording by Ron Davis that was distributed by Summit Records before being discontinued and Passages released by Jeff Funderburk that featured repertoire that was suited for younger students. That is, before the recent projects by David Zerkel with his release of Tuba Helper and now Scott Watson with this release of Stepping Stones for Tuba, Vol. 1. These gentlemen have my heartfelt admiration for bringing these projects to fruition. The quality of performances on these newer releases is inspirational and as a teacher and performer, I am grateful for the availability of these examples. Highly recommended!
I would be irresponsible for not mentioning and thanking Mr. Patrick Stuckemeyer while addressing this recording. Pat, who by the way is a former student of Mr. Watson, formed Potenza Music in 2004, a recording label and sheet music publisher, who specializes in low brass repertoire. An advocate of educational material, Stuckemeyer spearheaded the Stepping Stones to Success campaign, which is designed to produce top quality recordings of formative repertoire for the young instrumentalist. In this project, Potenza Music is making the commitment to provide at least one volume of formative repertoire for every wind instrument by 2015.
~Mike Dunn, University of Colorado
Uber Brass CD recording by Stanley Schumacher and the Music Now Ensemble, David Hofstra, tuba. Musikmacher Productions # MM002. 2007. Available online at cdbay.com. 48:30. $13.50.
According to their own liner notes, “some people are going to love this and some are going to hate it, but only the dead will be passive.” With that in mind, Stanley Schumacher and the Music Now Ensemble have set out to explore new frontiers in brass music. Uber Brass is the group’s follow-up to their debut album, Sound Textures. In this album, they are able to achieve an impressive number of sound colors and combinations for a group of only three brass players. The brass sounds are enhanced sparingly by electronic effects, extended techniques, and vocalization. Most often, though, the music is allowed to speak for itself, allowing the effects to be that much more striking when they are utilized.
The Music Now Ensemble is likely to be doubly suspicious to new listeners by associating themselves with both free improvisation and contemporary art music. They sets themselves apart by avoiding any association with jazz in relation to their improvisation (although Hofstra has extensive experience as a jazz and blues bass player) and by existing in the art music field without relying on a composer’s name recognition.
From the beginning it is clear that pitch and harmony are not the main focus of this album. Notes (especially in the higher register) are often played off-center as if no specific pitch was intended. This digresses into simple noises in Try Try Again. When a single chime is sounded in this track, it is almost as if the ensemble is reminded that there is a pitched world to return to. The extensive trumpet solo in the following track, New Idiom Now, begins with the most accessible, tonally grounded motions of the album. The use of repeated pitches and “unirhythm” in the accompanying voices add to the feeling that the band might be moving toward more tonally based music. After five tracks with nearly no tonal basis, this music feels strangely foreign to the ear. This again digresses to “valve wiggling” types of sounds. This ebb and flow of what is accessible and what is exotic lends much interest to the album and, in some ways, makes the whole recording larger than the sum of the parts.
In the end, the Music Now Ensemble creates music that sounds very much like composed-out modern classical music. In some ways, because of the nature of improvisation, they achieve better ensemble results. The members are specifically trying to react to one another, as opposed to the disconnect that often occurs when performers of contemporary art music have to obsessively count and fight through unfamiliar pitch relationships just to survive a new piece. While Uber Brass may not ever become a mainstream classic, it is an interesting listen and it can only be positive for our community as a whole that there are people trying to discover new niches for brass players and art music in general.
~T.J. Ricer, Doctoral Student, Eastman School of Music
From the Back Row CD recording featuring the Pittsburgh Symphony Low Brass Section: Peter Sullivan and Rebecca Bower Cherian, tenor trombones; Murray Crewe, bass trombone; Craig Knox, tuba. Albany records, TROY1003. Albany Records, 915 Broadway, Albany, N.Y. 12207. (518) 436-8814; http://www.albanyrecords.com $16.99. 2008.
From the Back Row consists primarily of chamber music for the orchestral low brass section (2 tenor trombones, bass trombone, and tuba) though it also contains the section playing orchestral excerpts from Hindemith’s Symphonic Metamorphosis and Mathis der Mahler, Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7 and Ravel’s Bolero. This CD is truly a delight for the ear; the musicianship is exceptional, the musical selections provide plenty of variety, and the chamber playing is extraordinary, particularly considering that the musicians perform a full spectrum of musical styles on their orchestral equipment. That’s right, Craig Knox plays the whole CD on his 6/4 Meinl-Weston 6450/2 CC-tuba.
In addition to the orchestral excerpts, there are a number of works of historical/academic interest spread throughout the CD. Arcady Dubensky’s Concerto Grosso for Three Trombones and Tuba opens the CD and was originally written for the New York Philharmonic’s low brass section in the late 1940s; Leopold Stokowski liked the work enough to suggest that Dubensky also write an orchestral accompaniment and then Stokowski conducted its premiere in 1949. No low brass section recording would be complete without Henri Tomasi’s Etre Ou ne pas Etre, and the contrasts and solemnity of this performance make it a great model for emulation. Hindemith’s Morgenmusik was originally written for four unspecified brass instruments, and Ted Griffith’s version heard on this recording is true to the spirit of Hindemith’s Gebrauchsmusik.
Scattered throughout the CD are lighter pieces, all of which are musically effective and beautifully executed; these act as a form of aural palette cleanser to keep the listener’s ears fresh. These include Debussy’s Girl with the Flaxen Hair, Beethoven’s Adagio cantabile from his “Pathetique” Sonata, Frescobaldi’s Toccata, Bach’s Toccata and Fugue, and a jazz tune written expressly for this recording by Joe Sullivan, jazz professor at McGill University and the brother of principal trombonist, Peter Sullivan. The section’s musical flexibility and virtuosity in each of these works is notable and makes the tracks fun to hear, even for non-musicians (yes, I asked one).
I learned a great deal from listening to this CD, and I am sure it will become a staple recording for low brass musicians around the world. The playing is exceptional throughout and the breadth and variety of musical selections makes one wonder why this mix of chamber and orchestral low brass music was not made decades ago. This CD can serve as an inspiration to any aspiring low brass player, and it is well worth the cost of admission!
~Jason Byrnes, University of Northern Colorado
The Odd Couple CD recording featuring Jim Self, tuba and Ron Kalina, harmonica assisted by Larry Koonse, electric and acoustic guitar, Tom Warrington, string bass, and Joe La Barbera, drums. Available from Basset Hound Music, 2139 Kress Street, Los Angeles, Ca. 90046 USA. www.bassethoundmusic.com.
In 1983, Jim Self’s first recording, Children at Play—a joint effort with noted pianist and harmonica player, Ron Kalina—hit the market. I have used that very attractive album for years to introduce jazz possibilities to music appreciation classes and to young tuba and euphonium players who need to consider adding jazz performance to their repertoire of musical pursuits. No better album exists to prove that jazz is about the music and how it is played rather than about the instrument that’s playing it. If you are a young tuba player (or harmonica player) and don’t have this “first” album, you need to get it (available from Basset Hound Music).
Twenty-five years have elapsed since that first album. Neither Ron Kalina nor Jim Self have been musically idle since 1983. While the first album is still good by any standard today, I have to echo Ron Kalina’s comment in the jacket notes (“I feel that this is my best work to date.”) and say that the playing on this album is the best work to date for BOTH artists. The program, planned together with Judy Wolman, is set up to take the listener through a wide circle of emotions and musical challenges. I can only describe the playing on every track as very, very “hip.” The sense of communication within the ensemble is stunning—for the attentive listener it is a lesson in quality chamber music playing. In addition to the “feature” solos by Kalina and Self, the solos by Larry Koonse and Tom Warrington add spice and an extra dimension of musical interest to every tune, and Joe La Barbera’s set playing is so smooth I would call it lyrical—yet he holds the group together effortlessly with his unrelenting groove. This is bebop virtuosity at its best.
It would take more time and space than I have allotted for this review for comments on each track. The album consists primarily of jazz standards plus an original tune from each of the featured artists. I’ll comment on my favorites, although I could extract “favorite” sections from every tune! Ron Kalina’s tune (which opens the program), No More Mr. Nice Guy, is based on Rhythm Changes, familiar to all jazz musicians. It sets the mood for the album and will grab the uninitiated or skeptical listener’s attention right away. The solos by both Kalina and Self display the voices of seasoned jazz artists with lots of original material and some well-placed quotes, and the stage is generously shared with Koonse, Warrington, and La Barbera. Everyone’s musical personality gets a chance to shine right away. The title of Jim’s tune, To Monica, is a play on the featured instruments’ names, and the work is trademark Jim Self. Anyone who has played works by Jim (whether in jazz or traditional classical style) knows how much he enjoys playing with meter. This tune has a very relaxed, “latin-ish,” “hemiola-ish” mood to it, and the head is a nice conversational interchange between harmonica and tuba. This is an extremely attractive tune that makes one want to get up and dance. The album’s title tune, The Odd Couple, was approved for use on this album by its composer, the great Neal Hefti, and they used his original changes from the TV theme music. For those younger readers who don’t remember Jack Klugman and Tony Randall’s show, now you’ll recognize the theme when the show comes around on “Nick at Night!”
While the choice of this tune was certainly clever from a marketing/PR standpoint, it is also a very nice jazz vehicle. My very favorite tunes are the classic Charlie Parker bebop tunes, Confirmation and Donna Lee. These jazz masterworks have been part of my “bath of fire” as a jazz performer initiate, and I believe that the performances on this disc stack up with any of the variety of other performances I’ve heard in my study of the music. The thing that’s so refreshing with the performances here is that the emphasis is on good musical ideas, not on “afterburner” speed (which is so often the case, especially with Donna Lee). Having said that, don’t be under the impression that these guys “poke along,” because they don’t! The heads to these tunes are among the most difficult in the repertoire, and Kalina and Self move through them effortlessly. We don’t get to hear Self play the head to Donna Lee until the end of the tune, but it’s indeed a showpiece performance that is typical of the kind of virtuosity and control that we have come to expect any time we hear him play. The solos in both tunes display great bebop artistry from both featured artists, but I also particularly enjoyed La Barbera’s playing in Confirmation, and Koonse’s solo in Donna Lee. You’ll want to share these performances with your guitar and set-playing friends in addition to enjoying them yourself.
The other tunes on this disc include Luiz Eca’s The Dolphin, Lanny Morgan’s Friends Again (riff on the classic “Just Friends”), Oliver Nelson’s Stolen Moments, Michael Leonard’s I’m All Smiles, Antonio Carlos Jobim’s Someone to Light Up My Life (easily the least familiar tune to most listeners), and Michael Le Grand’s You Must Believe in Spring. Ron and Jim worked out the arrangements for all the tunes and, according to the artists, they are only partially written, that is to say, this recording represents real, on-the-spot jazz playing.
If you don’t have ALL of Jim Self’s recordings in your collection, your collection is incomplete. Don’t fail to add this one. Even if you aren’t a jazz enthusiast, there’s a lot to be enjoyed and learned from this album. The musicianship (from ALL concerned), the artistry, and the music itself are inspiring.
~Jerry A. Young, The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
From Age To Age CD recording featuring the Denver Brass with Lowell Graham, conductor, and Joseph Galema, Organ. Available through Klavier Music Productions. www.klavier-records.com. $15.95 + shipping. Also available through The Denver Brass. www.denverbrass.org.
Wow. We should all be so lucky as the city of Denver is and have such a deep pool of talented brass players to put such beautiful music together. This CD uses 4 trumpets, 4 horns, 4 trombones, 5 percussionists, the William H. Coors organ, which was built in 2002 by Berliner Orgelbauwerkstatt, and “features” Joseph Martin, euphonium, and Kathy Aylsworth Brantigan, tuba.
The first track,Ceremonial Prelude, by Arthur Bliss was a nice “fanfarish” way to introduce the CD, but it took me a while to adjust to the balance between organ and brass section. The sound seems to be “from a distance” with the brass voices too equal to the sound and timbre of the organ. From Age to Age by Chris Hazell is a musical journey through Renaissance, Romance, and Toccata. I was immediately struck by the clarity of voicing and distinct ability to hear each performer in this larger work. From the running tuba lines to the crisp tambourine “snaps,” the whole work seemed to have been recorded from an entirely different perspective and the listener feels actually involved in the mix.
In Improvisation on the Te Deum, arranger Clark McAlister was able to add brass to what had been an improvised work. This successfully gives some added punctuation and color reinforcement to a classical organists treatment: just the right amount of filigree.
Martin Ellerby’s Natalis, Charles Keochlin’s Le Chant De La Resurrection, and Edward Elgar’sImperial March keep the CD flowing with a nice sense of changing styles and periods: a good mix of stops and voicing, both in the brass and organ parts. One’s ear begins to adjust to the changes in “proximity.” Jacques Casterede,Trios Visions De L’Apocalypse makes me want to grab a tuba and join in! It is a truly a powerful and beautiful work and an excellent performance.
Joseph Galema shines throughout on this great organ, and Lowell Graham leads the ensemble masterfully in what is often a daunting enterprise achieving solid ensemble given the spatial and logistic problems of performing with organ in a large hall. All American Guild of Organist members should be given a “heads-up” on this CD too.
~Phillip C. Black, Wichita State University, Wichita Symphony
Solo Eclipse CD recording featuring Kenneth Amis, tuba, Bill McHenry, tenor saxophone, and the MIT Wind Ensemble. Available through Albany Records, 915 Broadway, Albany NY 12207 or order online www.albanyrecords.com. TROY1016. $16.99.
This is an excellent CD of world premiere recordings taken from concerts in Kresge Auditorium at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from December 2005 to March 2007. The MIT Wind Ensemble, which was founded in 1999 by Frederick Harris Jr., has commissioned 18 original works. A smart idea from a smart ensemble! The sound engineers did an excellent job of “matching” the sound of three separate concert dates into one cohesive whole aural package, unlike some compilation CDs, which suffer from uneven quality.
The first track, Solar Return Suite, by Guillermo Klein, features Bill McHenry throughout as a “stream of consciousness” soloist with much of the work being improvised over the beautiful framework Mr. Klein creates for the ensemble. I found myself drifting being mesmerized by the interplay of voices. I swore I would never use the phrase “haunting melody” in a review, and now must eat my words. It is most refreshing to listen to a CD of wind ensemble premieres without hearing “singing, clapping, scraping, and tapping” devices added. Maybe those days have passed!!
The other two outstanding pieces could/should be subtitled, “the Kenneth Amis Show.” Kenneth has transcribed two works by Ran Blake, one for solo piano, the other for piano and clarinet, and he has managed to successfully transfer the concepts of voicing and touch from the piano to the wind ensemble. He is also Assistant Conductor of the ensemble as well as composer/soloist of the final selection, Concerto for Tuba.
This work stands as one of if not the longest tuba concertos on record (or CD in this case), clocking in at 31:59. On first hearing, I was so impressed by the piece that I ordered a copy from “Amis Musical Circle” before leaving the office. The first note in the solo part comes after five minutes of introduction, and there are just enough rest stops along the way for the soloist to recover some steam and make this epic work an approachable challenge. The solo part ranges from DD to e1 with most excursions to upper register followed by a return to Earth, never the feeling of being hung up to dry.
All in all, this is an excellent work both to hear and perform. Now all we need are more wind ensemble conductors willing to give half an hour of concert to one soloist.
~Phillip C. Black, Wichita State University, Wichita Symphony
Christmas Tubas CD recording featuring the Tennessee Tech Tuba Ensemble directed by R. Winston Morris. Mark Records #7878-MCD. 10815 Bodine Road, Clarence, N.Y. 14031-0406. 716-759-2600; www.markcustom.com; firstname.lastname@example.org. 2008. $15.
Most mainstream music groups eventually seem to eventually come out with the obligatory Christmas album. Since the Tennessee Tech Tuba Ensemble is the most recorded tuba-euphonium ensemble in history, it seems only right that they put out their Christmas album, its 25th recording project to date and long overdue. The repertoire for this CD includes many Christmas favorites and a few other tunes associated with Christmas. In order of appearance they are Carol of the Bells, Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, Hallelujah Chorus from the Messiah, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Greensleeves, Angels We have Heard on High, God Rest You Merry Gentlemen, Deck the Halls (with Bells of Tubas), We Wish You a Merry Christmas, Here Comes Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman, One Horse Open Sleigh (Jingle Bells), Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas, It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, 12 Days of Housetops!, Go Tell!, Feliz Navidad, Sleigh Ride, Merry Christmas Darling, My Favorite Things, and “What’s This?” from The Nightmare Before Christmas. There is a 24th track put in just for fun. Without giving it away, it is in a similar vein to the last track on the Symphonia Fantastique CD recording Mr. Morris helped produce.
Many of the arrangers are quite familiar to tuba and euphonium players and include William R. Brusick, Gary Buttery, James A. Canter, James Garrett, Carroll Gotcher, Angelo Kortyka, Ben McMillian, Jon Oliver, Tim Olt, Scott Ramsey, Gail Robertson, David Werden, Robert Wilkinson, Kenyon Wilson, and David Wiseman. My hat is off to all of the arrangers for the excellent arrangements on this CD recording making the traditional even more exciting and arranging the original compositions to sound like they were composed for tuba/euphonium ensemble. Special mention should also be made of the three soloists on the CD. Curtis Prichard does a fine euphonium rendition of the Merry Christmas Darling tune with plenty of presence and clarity of tone. Soloists Kyle Newland and Kenji Kabe on tubas for My Favorite Things likewise provide tasty jazz riffs and improvisations of this great Sound of Music favorite (which actually has nothing to do with Christmas!)
With so many choices on this CD, I can only mention a few of my favorites although there is not a bad tune in the bunch! From the more traditional rendition of Greensleeves arranged by former Coast Guard band tubist Gary Buttery to a very unusual but effective rendition of Carol of the Bells, most of the arrangements feature something much more than the original melodic setting. I was a little disappointed that Sleigh Ride actually had some kind of sampled horse whinny instead of what could have been a contrabass trumpet section! 12 Days of Housetops has to have the most apocalyptic beginning to a traditional carol with chords and suspense worthy of Also sprach Zarathustra. On the other hand, Go Tell! is the best jazz version of this tune I have ever heard thanks to the arranging of William R. Brusick. They are all great.
Having listened to the entire album on headset as well as on my Bose stereo system, I can honestly say this ensemble has a great mix and blend. Every player is in top form and the bottom to the top of the ensemble is balanced and rich in sonority. The 40+ year tradition of the Tennessee Tech Tuba Ensemble is more than a tradition. It is a force of nature consistently putting out quality musicians and recordings. This album is yet another testimony to R. Winston Morris and his incredible legacy as a pioneer in his field whose work has been emulated worldwide. You can bet this CD going to be played at my home during the holidays and for our traditional Christmas party. My wife’s teacher colleagues are going to freak this year!
~Mark Nelson, Pima Community College
Baritones to the Fore! CD recording featuring Diana Herak, Katrina Marzella, Rob Richardson, and Helen Tyler, baritones. Dodgy Valve Productions CD-1036. www.4barsrest.com. $20.
Who would imagine a recording of the often-neglected baritone that features four promising young artists on the instrument? It is a sign that the instrument is becoming more commonplace and doesn’t need an explanation with every mention of the word “baritone.” The four artists on this recording come from various backgrounds but all within the brass band tradition. Three of them (Ms. Marzella, Ms. Tyler, and Mr. Richardson) all have experience within the European brass band tradition. Ms. Herak grew up in the United States but also has experience several quality brass bands. Perhaps Ms. Herak should consider using her maiden name when she releases a brass recording as a last name like Droste is sure to sell several copies. She is indeed the daughter of one of the founding fathers of the euphonium, Dr. Paul Droste. The group that accompanies the majority of the works on the recording is the Brass Band of Columbus, also founded by Dr. Droste.
One of the difficulties for the baritone is the lack of original solo material. It is wonderful to see that the majority of the works are original compositions for the instrument. Only five of the sixteen works are transcriptions. Each performer is featured as a soloist several times throughout the recording. It is wonderful to hear the different sounds and styles of each performer. This would be a great recording to give to a young aspiring baritone student to reveal the varying sounds and styles that are achievable with the instrument.
The Brass Band of Columbus does a wonderful job of accompanying the soloists without interfering or covering up the clarity of the baritone. There are also three solos performed with piano accompaniment. Overall, this is a wonderful recording concept featuring several baritone artists playing a wide range of solos accompanied by both brass band and piano. Bravo to a job well done. I would highly recommend this recording.
~Kelly Thomas, University of Arizona