Mark Nelson, Associate Editor
New Materials received Aug.1–Nov.1 with thanks:
Sonata for Tuba and Piano by Derek Bourgeois
A Weaver of Dreams CD recording featuring Marc Dickman, euphonium
Four Valves, Four Slides CD recording featuring Steven Mead, euphonium
Bella Italia CD recording featuring Steven Mead, euphonium
Celestial Keys for tuba and organ by Gwyneth Walker
Golden Sounds CD recording featuring Ian King, tuba
Unaccompanied Suites BWV 1007–1012 by J.S. Bach CD-ROM transcribed for tuba by Ralph Sauer
REVIEWED IN THIS ISSUE:
Gaelic Sonata for Euphonium and Piano by Duncan J. Miller
The Four Seasons Suite for Euphonium Trio by Yukiko Isomura
Suite for Unaccompanied Solo Tuba by Neil Flory
American Fantasy for Tuba and Piano by Sy Brandon
Unaccompanied Suites BWV 1007–1012 by J.S. Bach transcribed for tuba by Ralph Sauer
Formal Persistence, a set of three pieces for tuba and piano by Lon W. Chaffin
Journey for Contrabass Tuba and Orchestra by John Stevens
Suite for Solo Tuba Alone by Itself Without Accompaniment by Antony Paasch
Sea Dream, three pieces for tuba and piano by Barbara York
Fnugg for unaccompanied tuba by Østein Baadsvik
Three Predicaments for solo tuba by Robert Denham
Me and My Tuba for tuba with piano accompaniment by David Uber
Chorale Prelude and Fugue on Puer Nobis for four-part tuba-euphonium ensemble by David Kassler
Four Polkas arranged for tuba-euphonium quartet by Scott Schlesinger
Troika by Sergei Prokofiev arranged for tuba-euphonium quartet or four-part ensemble (with optional percussion) by David Butler
Ship on Fire, A Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble Melodrama by Henry Russell arranged for four-part tuba-euphonium ensemble and voice by William R. Lee
Baby Elephant Walk (from the Paramount Picture “Hatari!”) by Henry Mancini arranged for baritone-tuba quartet by Lennie Niehaus
Benediction for tuba-euphonium quartet by John Stevens
Slavonic Dances, Opus 46, #1 by Antonin Dvorak arranged for five-part tuba-euphonium ensemble by David Butler
Ancient Airs & Dances, Suite #1 (1917) by Ottorino Respighi arranged and abridged for brass quintet by Craig Garner
Chicken Reel by Joseph M. Daly arranged for brass quintet by David J. Kosmyna
Symphony No. 1 by Gustav Mahler arranged and abridged for brass quintet by Craig Garner
Baroque Suite duet for bassoon and tuba by Antony Paasch
Berlin for Brass CD recording featuring the Chestnut Brass Company brass quintet
Foster for Brass CD recording featuring the Chestnut Brass Company brass quintet
Bach 2000 CD recording featuring the Berlin Brass
Bach ins 3. Jahrtausend (With Bach in the Year 3000) CD recording featuring the Berlin Brass
Bach Dimensionen (Bach Dimensions) CD recording featuring the Berlin Brass
Bach in Brass CD recording featuring the Berlin Brass
Scheidt CD recording featuring the Berlin Brass
American Music for Tuba-Something Old, Something New CD recording featuring David Zerkel, Tuba, Anatoly Sheludyakov, Piano, and the University of Georgia Wind Ensemble
Marc Dickman: A Weaver of Dream CD recording featuring Marc Dickman, euphonium; Bill Prince, trumpet, clarinet, flute, flugelhorn, tenor sax; Kevin Bales, piano; Rick Kirkland, drums; and Ben Tucker, bass
East Meets West CD recording featuring James Gourlay on tuba accompanied by the Grimethorpe Colliery (UK Coal) Band conducted by Garry Cutt with John Wilson, pianist
SMILE: The Music of Marty Erickson CD recording featuring Marty Erickson, tuba; Marvin Stamm, flugelhorn/trumpet; Frank Mantooth, piano; Steve Houghton, drums; Rob Fisher, bass; and Ron Newman, piano
Collected Dreams CD recording featuring the duet of Damon Denton, synthesizers and Adam Frey, euphonium
Gaelic Sonata for Euphonium and Piano by Duncan J. Miller. Cameline Press, 9099 127th Lane, Seminole, Fl. 33776. 2002. No price specified.
This new folk song arrangement was written for Adam Frey, euphonium soloist and clinician. The thematic material is based on the following Scottish folk songs: Macrimmon’s Lament, O’er the Hills and Far Away, The Tocherless Lass, The Thistle of Scotland, Skye Boat Song, Wet is the Night, My love – She’s But a Lassie Yet, The Perth Hunt, The Wind That Shakes the Barley, and Timour the Tartar.
The larger structure of the work is more like a concerto, in that it is in a fast-slow-fast three-movement design. The solo and accompaniment function is what might be expected; tunes are harmonized and the melody is exchanged between soloist and accompanist with variation. The tunes are attractive and often modal in character.
About half of the work could be played by a university freshman or sophomore. However the ability to switch rapidly between bass and tenor clef is necessary. Climatic points often revolve around d2, and the top range is an f2. While flashy in character, this writing excludes many players who might otherwise enjoy this work. Some of this would probably sound fine down an octave.
The work is typeset with a computer and is easy to read. However, the copy sent to the reviewer had the solo and piano part bound together. Thus, you will need to make a copy, or use a binding machine to extract the solo part.
~Ken Drobnak, Michigan State Graduate Student
Suite for Unaccompanied Solo Tuba by Neil Flory. Tuba-Euphonium Press, David Miles, editor. 3811 Ridge Road, Annandale, Va. 22003-1832. (703) 916-0711; email@example.com. www.tubaeuphoniumpress.com. 2003. Approximate duration: 8:00. $10.
Neil Flory is head of the music theory and composition area and teaches musicianship, aural training, and composition at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi, Texas. He earned degrees from University of Central Florida, the University of Florida, and the University of Texas at Austin. An active composer and poet, Flory’s compositions include a variety of works both in the acoustic and electro-acoustic media. His music, published by numerous presses, has been performed across the United States as well as in Europe, South America, and Asia. Flory’s Suite for Unaccompanied Solo Tuba was written for Yutaka Kono in 1999.
This contemporary piece for solo tuba is comprised of four movements: Nocturne, Dance, Rhapsody, and Finale. Flory directs the player to perform the Nocturne as “solemn, passionate, [and] with some rubato.” This movement is slow and lyrical with many dynamic contrasts and fermatas, reminiscent of a meditative aria. The second movement, Dance, employs mixed meters, flutter tonguing, and complex beat subdivisions. In this movement, care must be taken to convey a strong sense of pulse through rhythmically difficult passages all the while playing a solo line. In the rhapsody, Flory returns to a slow, lyrical feeling, and also includes a wide dynamic range as in the first movement. The fourth movement, Finale, provides an energetic conclusion to this suite. Here, Flory uses some mixed meter and again uses flutter tonguing to heighten the effect of a wide dynamic range and rhythmic subdivisions. Additionally, Flory indicates this piece should be preferably performed on an F tuba, presumably to achieve the desired tone color in the mid and upper ranges of this piece. While there are no radical effects in this suite, the intervals, tonalities, and rhythms used demand a strong sense of pitch and rhythm for a convincing performance.
The music itself is computer-generated, clear, and easy to read. Additionally, the layout of each movement includes some blank space on each page to allow for convenient page turns. For each movement, Flory includes tempo and dynamic markings to convey the overall effect to the performer. The range of this piece encompasses three octaves, from EE to the e1 and frequently remains in the mid to upper portion of this tessitura. The range, technical challenges, and musical demands suggest that Flory’s Suite for Unaccompanied Solo Tuba should be performed by upper-level collegiate and graduate students on an F tuba.
~Daniel Johnson, University of North Carolina at Wilmington
Sea Dream, three pieces for tuba and piano by Barbara York. Tuba-Euphonium Press, David Miles, editor. 3811 Ridge Road, Annandale, Va. 22003-1832. (703) 916-0711; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.tubaeuphoniumpress.com. 2003. $20.
Written specifically for Michael Fischer, this piece was used in the summer of 2004 for the ITEC International Young Artist Competition in Budapest, Hungary.
The first movement, “Down Under,” probably refers to beneath the surface of the sea rather than to Australia. Over waving arpeggios in the piano, the solo intones a beautiful legato melody that at times joins in the sixteenth notes that the piano plays. Very tonal, the calm in this movement is profound.
The second movement, “Whales,” is a lento 6/8 that moves up and down as though you are on the ocean surface. A middle 3/4 section has more motion and is shaped very much like a whale itself. The sonority, especially of the chords at the end of the movement, is evocative of the grace of these huge creatures.
The third movement, “Dolphins,” is marked Playfully, a word that is associated with these sea mammals quite often, and the solo line reflects this. In the key of G, it is comprised primarily of running sixteenth notes that run up and down the scales, not necessarily staying in the original key. A middle section of eighth and quarter notes is more serious, but the playfulness comes back and the dolphins give us one last flick of their snouts before disappearing beneath the waves.
A good high school player would have little problem putting this together with a pianist and might make a good contest solo. The sound of the ensemble is such that it would delight audiences at a college recital, even though it lacks the challenge of the Hindemith Sonata or even the Beversdorf Sonata. This is good worthwhile music. Range is not a huge problem, FF to b-flat.
~Michael Short, Drake University
Ballade for solo tuba and string quartet by Roland Szentpáli. Editions-BIM, Jean-Pierre Mathez, CH-1674 Vuarmarens, Switzerland. 2002. 11:00. Grade 5. $33.20.
Hungarian composer and tubist Roland Szentpáli (b. 1977) studied tuba and composition at the Bartók Conservatory in Budapest. A student of László Szabó and Roger Bobo, Szentpáli has won numerous prizes in seven international competitions including: Poland, Germany, Hungary, Korea, the Czech Republic, Finland, and France. Szentpáli’s compositions include chamber music, orchestral pieces, and concerti for various wind instruments. Currently finishing his undergraduate studies at the Liszt Academy, Szentpáli performs as a member of the National Radio and Television Youth Orchestra of Hungary and is a Melton/Meinl-Weston and B&S performing artist. The Ballade for solo tuba and string quartet is dedicated to Anton Meinl for his eightieth birthday.
It is a single-movement work containing numerous sections. Each passage designated by the composer uses expressive and tempo (metronome) markings. Allegro passages alternate with contrasting lyrical and rubato sections throughout. This piece is demanding, both technically and musically. Some large leaps and intricate passages provide a challenge for the solo player. The range is also challenging, encompassing more than three octaves from EE to g1. The accompaniment employs a conventional string quartet: two violins, viola, and cello. These parts, although not as difficult as the solo tuba part are somewhat challenging. The string parts often share the same rhythms and markings but provide a contrasting timbre to the tuba soloist.
Szentpáli’s Ballade takes its place as one of the few pieces for solo tuba and string quartet. The parts themselves are computer-generated and quite legible. In addition, numerous cues in both the solo and accompaniment parts aid the performers. A rhythmically and technically challenging piece for all parts, this Ballade is an advanced yet rewarding piece suitable for accomplished collegiate students, graduate students, and professional players.
~Daniel Johnson, University of North Carolina at Wilmington
Me and My Tuba for tuba with piano accompaniment by David Uber. Wehr’s Music House, 3533 Baxter Drive, Winter Park, Fl. 32792-1704. 2003. 3:45. $6.
Veteran composer and arranger David Uber has published more than four hundred works with nineteen major publishers. Well-known among brass players for his arrangements and compositions, Uber’s current catalog lists 421 compositions, of which 22 listings are in the HYPERLINK “http://www.tubaeuphoniumpress.com/”Tuba-Euphonium Press catalogue. Me and My Tuba is a straightforward yet engaging solo for tuba with piano accompaniment.
This solo is divided into three sections: moderato poco maestoso, piu mosso, and maestoso. In the first section, Uber presents a simple melody followed by some more complex developments in E-flat major. The rhythmic subdivision is regular with some sixteenth-note passages combined with triplets and grace notes to maintain interest. Uber extends the melodic lines in this lyrical passage in the second section in f minor. Marked with expressive dynamics, the second section leads nicely into the final maestoso section. The third section is more martial, providing a flashy and fanfare-like conclusion to this solo.
The appropriately titled Me and My Tuba is an accessible piece for solo tuba and piano accompaniment by one of the veteran composers and arrangers for the instrument. The range of the solo part extends just beyond two octaves, from GG to a-flat. The piano accompaniment is not difficult; a competent pianist should have no trouble with this largely chordal accompaniment. The music itself is computer-generated, clear, and easy to read. Additionally, the layout of the accompaniment features convenient page turns. There are no unusual effects or particularly challenging elements in this solo, although inexperienced players should pay close attention to some of the intervals. Given the range, length, and musical material of this piece, Uber’s Me and My Tuba for solo tuba and piano accompaniment is a work appropriate for accomplished high school and undergraduate collegiate players.
~Daniel Johnson, University of North Carolina at Wilmington
Three Predicaments by Robert Denham for solo tuba. Tuba-Euphonium Press, David Miles, editor. 3811 Ridge Road, Annandale, Va. 22003-1832. (703) 916-0711; email@example.com; www.tubaeuphoniumpress.com. 2003. 6:00. Grade V. $8.
This composition contains three movements, each roughly two minutes in length. The first movement, “The Sound of Fury,” requires the soloist to perform wide leaps of dissonant intervals. Trills in various registers are the primary ornament utilized throughout this movement. The rhythmic content is complex as well. The composer calls for 19 tempo changes during this movement, which is contained on one page. The second movement, “Solitary Confinement,” contains some pleasant lyrical moments. Wide leaps and chromaticism are important compositional elements, as in the first movement. The final movement, “What if the hypotenuse is missing?,” contains the simplest rhythmic demands although the greatest technical demands of the three. Each movement, and the piece as a whole, is thoughtfully constructed using standard compositional devices for modern music. The musical and technical challenges are interesting for the player from an academic perspective but might be difficult to communicate with an audience. The tessitura of the solo ranges from CC to f1.
~Thomas Bough, Southern Illinois University
Fnugg for unaccompanied tuba by Østein Baadsvik. Ovation. Markaplassen 415, 7054 Ranheim, Norway. www.baadsvik.com. 2004.
I was present at the premiere of this work at the 2002 International Tuba Euphonium Conference at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. It was electrifying! Fnugg is a solo player’s dream in that it captures a kind of dated rock theme with plenty of multi-phonics, grooving rhythms, and a cool new sound Mr. Baadsvik calls “lip beat.” The piece is recorded by the composer on his new CD, Tuba Carnival (BIS CD 1285), reviewed in the Fall 2004 ITEA Journal. According to Baadsvik’s program notes, Fnugg is “originally an improvisation with elements from the Australian Aboriginal instrument didgeridoo and Norwegian folk music. The techniques in use are multi-phonics…and Baadsvik’s own invention “Lip Beat” (percussive tuba). Fnugg is a Norwegian word describing something very small and weightless. Like a snowflake.”
There is nothing weightless about the music except maybe the word itself! The range is very conservative for the tuba part comprising EE-flat to B-flat! The multi-phonic part in many ways mimics the tuba part an octave or an octave plus a fifth higher in parallel motion. The “lip beat” section has a short definition of sound comprising the “TuK” of the double-tongue syllables “Tu-Ku” creating a “smack” instead of an actual pitch. Several vowel syllables alternate in the multi-phonics part changing the timbre in specific places. Women tubists might find the range too low at times as it does descend to the D-flat in the bass clef. Obviously, the tricky part once the basic rhythms and style are in place is to actually play the tuba part and hum the multi-phonics in tune with each other—easier said than done!!
For those of you with a hankering for something completely different that is not totally inaccessible and actually has a distinctive rock style, this is a work not to be passed up. I have been working on it on and off for the last several months and find it challenging and enjoyable. In the hands of a master performer like Baadsvik, it is amazing!
~Mark Nelson, Pima Community College
American Fantasy for tuba and piano by Sy Brandon. Tuba-Euphonium Press, David Miles, editor. 3811 Ridge Road, Annandale, Va. 22003-1832. (703) 916-0711; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.tubaeuphoniumpress.com. 2002. $12.
Sy Brandon should be a familiar name in the euphonium and tuba world. He has written numerous solo and ensemble works for our instruments, including commissions by the University of Arkansas Tuba-Euphonium ensemble and tubist Barton Cummings. Twice he has received accolades from the T.U.B.A. (ITEA), placing 1st in the 1996 Tuba Etude Composition Contest and Honorable Mention in the 1995 Euphonium Etude Composition Contest. Outside of our realm he has been the recipient of numerous commissions and awards from around the country. His works have been performed by major ensembles throughout the United States including the Boise Philharmonic, Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra, and the U.S. Air Force Band. In addition, his music has been heard over radio stations and at conferences across the country.
American Fantasy was commissioned by Dr. Kenyon Wilson for performance during his Fulbright Scholarship residency at the Baku Music Academy in Aserbaijan. The work is designed to have an “American” flavor, using not only the theme of America, the Beautiful but also employing various idioms inherently associated with Americana. These include jazz harmonies and rhythms, folk-song style melodies, and a hoedown.
The work comprises three movements: “Declaration,” “Introspection,” and “Community.” America, the Beautiful is employed throughout each movement using different treatments. The range of the solo part is from FF to d1, being easily accessible for either CC or F tuba, though the tessitura seems better for F. From the standpoint of technique, the piece is fairly accessible with the biggest challenge being minor counting issues in the opening movement and a few faster passages that may test a player’s flexibility. Otherwise, the work is easily accessible to the advanced college performer. The accompaniment does require some agility on the part of the pianist but is by no means overly difficult.
All in all this is a good work of a patriotic nature. The only drawback I saw was the constant snippets of America, the Beautiful. For my taste, it begins to get a bit overused. On the other hand, it is a well-crafted work that would fit nicely on most any recital program.
~Tim Olt, Bowling Green State University
Journey for Contrabass Tuba and Orchestra by John Stevens (tuba and piano reduction). Editions Bim. P.O. Box 300- CH- 1674 Vuamarens, Switzerland. +41 – (0)21 909 10 00; www.editions-bim.com. 1998. Approximate duration 28:00. $24 (from Robert King).
Journey was commissioned for Gene Pokorny and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra by the Edward F. Schmidt Family Commissioning Fund. Anyone who has been around Mr. Pokorny for any length of time realizes several things beyond his extraordinary musicianship: he has a great love for life, especially rail-fanning and the Three Stooges among others. For those not familiar with the term, rail-fanning refers to going to tracks or stations to photograph, look at, tour, etc. If you do not know who the Three Stooges are you need to watch more late night TV! Both these facts will come into play in any discussion of this work.
The work is divided into three movements: “Morning in the yard,” “Midnight in the mountains,” and “Highballing through town.” Each depicts an aspect of trains and rail-fanning. The range of the solo part is from AAA to g1. The work itself presents quite a number of interesting challenges for the performer. The rhythmic complexity of the piece is immediately evident with the meter changing often and the use of duplets, triplets, quadruplets, quintuplets, sextuplets, and septuplets, including within the constraints of an already existing subdivision, creating 3:4 within 3:2 divisions for example. There are also numerous trills that could potentially cause some concern if not for the deft placement by Professor Stevens. All the trills are clearly designed to be playable on CC tuba. In addition, flutter tonguing is called for on several occasions. One of the biggest considerations for the performer is going to be endurance. The work is very demanding throughout the entire 28 minutes. Pacing is crucial. This work is definitely for the professional, though may be approachable by high-level college students. The piano reduction is extremely difficult and will require a great deal of preparation.
We have already discussed the connection to rail-fanning, so the time has come to bring on the Stooges. The theme song used for the Three Stooges was Three Blind Mice. I believe it is no coincidence that the descending three-note/whole step motive occurs numerous times within this work. One of the most notable statements is after rehearsal M in the first movement. The tuba plays G-sharp/F-sharp/E/G-sharp/F-sharp/e, and then proceeds to B/A/g-sharp/b/a/G-sharp. Minus the octave displacement I believe you may recognize this progression. Consult your local piano if sight-singing is not your strong suit. My apologies if I have given away any trade secrets!
I had the distinct pleasure of hearing Mr. Pokorny perform this work live at the University of Georgia several years ago (many thanks to Dave Zerkel!). The work is very exciting, and Mr. Pokorny’s performance only served to increase that. A special note should be made to the accompanist, pianist Paolo Gualdi, who performed the work after seeing it for only about an hour! This piece is a very welcome addition to the repertoire. Kudos to Professor Stevens!
~Tim Olt, Bowling Green University
Suite for Solo Tuba Alone by Itself Without Accompaniment by Antony Paasch. Tuba-Euphonium Press, David Miles, editor. 3811 Ridge Road, Annandale, Va. 22003-1832. (703) 916-0711; email@example.com; www.tubaeuphoniumpress.com. 2003. Approximate duration 8:00. Grade 5-6. $12.
Antony Paasch’s work has been reviewed previously in the ITEA Journal for his Seven Miniatures for euphonium-tuba duet (see www.iteaonline.org/Journal/31N2/31N2newmaterials.shtml), and has composed a number of works ranging from unaccompanied tuba to bassoon-tuba duet and tuba-euphonium quartet, many of which have been published by The Tuba-Euphonium Press.
Suite for Solo Tuba Alone by Itself Without Accompaniment is a challenging yet accessible work for unaccompanied tuba suitable for advanced tubists. Each of the work’s six movements is a study in a particular metric, rhythmic, or technical aspect not commonly addressed in tuba literature. A notable feature of this work is that many of the movements are composed in less-familiar meters such as 6/16, 11/16, 7/4 and 9/4. Range demands are significant, as the work ranges from EE to e-flat1, often remaining in the bass clef staff. Yet Paasch has creatively varied the tessitura of each movement to facilitate endurance and interest on behalf of both the performer and the audience.
The first movement, “Not too fast!,” is an energetic syncopated sixteenth-note rhythmic study with occasional large intervallic leaps. “Andante” is a modal study in 7/4 similar in spirit to Bach’s Air on the G String with its arpeggiated quarter note melodic structure. “Allegro” is a study in thirds composed in 11/16, demonstrates blazing technique and rhythmic complexity within a dance-like structure. The fourth movement, “Adagio,” is a lower register study offering the tubist an opportunity to display lyricism and sonority. “Moderato” in 5/8 is a shifting meter study. The final movement, “Presto,” composed in 6/16, is a study in odd note groupings and shifting intense stress.
This work provides variety for recital programs by advanced undergraduate tubists, graduate students and professionals alike. Modality, ornamentation, and a creatively schizophrenic style make this work an interesting program selection.
~David Spies, Marian College
Formal Persistence, a set of three pieces for tuba and piano by Lon W. Chaffin. Tuba-Euphonium Press, David Miles, editor. 3811 Ridge Road, Annandale, Va. 22003-1832. (703) 916-0711; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.tubaeuphoniumpress.com. 2003. $12.
Dr. Lon W. Chaffin currently serves on the faculty of the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. An associate professor, he also acts as coordinator of music theory, composition, and technology. His works have been performed at Texas Tech University and the Texas Music Educators Association conventions among others. He is also a lecturer in musical theatre and electronic music.
The title Formal Persistence is meant to define the aspect of musical practices that has remained through all the harmonic and melodic changes and trends over time, the musical form. By this he is referring to the use of standard forms such as fugue, concerto, etc. in modern settings. The work is divided into three movements; “Repetition 18 (Rondo),” “Imitation 17 (Fugue),” and “Variation 16 (Theme and Variations).” In the first movement, “Repetition 18 (Rondo),” the opening theme is later restated twice more with contrasting sections in between, delineating the rondo form. The 18 in the title refers to the 18th century when the form was prominent. “Imitation 17 (Fugue)” works in a similar fashion, employing standard contrapuntal devices in the treatment of the thematic material, with the number again referencing the time of prominence. “Variation 16 (Theme and Variations)” behaves in much the same manner as the two previous movements.
The solo part lies well on CC tuba, though easily playable on F, with a range from BB-flat to a. The only difficulties in the work tend to be oriented around aural issues with some odd leaps and interesting harmonic structures, but those are not extreme. In a few places, the rhythmic content is somewhat challenging with a few hemiola passages. On the whole, the piece is very approachable for advanced high school to college level players. This work will serve well as an introduction for younger students to less familiar melodic and harmonic grounds within a familiar formal framework. Nice job Professor Chaffin!
~Tim Olt, Bowling Green State University
Benediction, by John Stevens for tuba-euphonium quartet. Tuba-Euphonium Press, David Miles, editor. 3811 Ridge Road, Annandale, Va. 22003-1832. (703) 916-0711; email@example.com; www.tubaeuphoniumpress.com. 2003. 4:00 minutes. Grade IV. $10.
John Stevens is one of the most important composers for both tuba and tuba-euphonium ensemble. His latest offering, Benediction, is no exception. In the composers’ words, “Benediction serves as…a reminder that the lyrical sonority of the tuba-euphonium ensemble is perhaps its most wonderful characteristic.” After performing this composition with my own quartet, I wholeheartedly agree. Stevens has created a truly beautiful melody, supported but not overwhelmed by a rich harmonic background and pleasant counterpoint. He does a wonderful job of maintaining an open structure for each chord voicing, which allows the sonority of the instruments to be heard, rather than muddled. This composition can be heard on the CD Viva Voce, recording by the Sotto Voce Quartet on the Summit Brass label. I strongly recommend this composition for its beautiful melody and high artistic merit. The ranges are euphonium 1 g to b-flat1, euphonium 2 e to f1, tuba 1 G to c1, and tuba 2 C to a-flat.
~Thomas Bough, Southern Illinois University
Slavonic Dances, Opus 46, #1 by Antonin Dvorak arranged for five-part tuba-euphonium ensemble by David Butler. Tuba-Euphonium Press, David Miles, editor. 3811 Ridge Road, Annandale, Va. 22003-1832. (703) 916-0711; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.tubaeuphoniumpress.com. 2003. 6:00 minutes. Grade III. $24.
Slavonic Dances, Opus 46 was written as a piano duet in 1878, then later orchestrated by the composer. David Butler’s skillful arrangement for two euphoniums and three tubas captures the energetic rhythmic pulse of the original work in a delightful manner. In addition to his considerable skill as a tuba performer, Butler has created numerous arrangements for the Tennessee Tech Tuba Ensemble. He is also an experienced and successful high school band director.
The technical demands make it accessible for high school students, although the artistic demands make it appropriate for the university level as well. Accents and dynamics are clearly marked, as are repeats and rehearsal numbers. If the marked tempos are observed, some students may be challenged by feeling the pulse at one beat per measure. Both treble and bass clef euphonium parts are provided for convenience. The ranges are euphonium 1 B-flat to b-flat1, euphonium 2 c to g1, tuba 1 E-flat to c1, tuba 2 AA-flat to a-flat, tuba 3 GG to f.
~Thomas Bough, Southern Illinois University
The Four Seasons Suite for Euphonium Trio by Yukiko Isomura. Athens Music Publishing & Euphonium Enterprises, Inc., 7230 Cloverhurst Court, Cumming, Ga. 30041 USA. Fax 770-754-7881; www.euphonium.com. ID #ET-01. 2003. $40. Composer Contact: Iemail@example.com; www.din.or.jp/~i-yukiko.
This euphonium trio is a superb four-movement work by Yukiko Isomura, who is an excellent Japanese pianist and composer. The movements are “The Start in Season,” “Water Lily, Storm of Autumn,” and “Noel Arpeggio.” My favorite is the first movement. It really swings in a bright, up tempo with a very fun, exciting, and crisp sound. It would be great as a stand-alone piece, especially to show off a tight-playing ensemble. The second movement definitely shows Yukiko’s Japanese heritage with a fusion of Western and Japanese tonal components. The third movement is in 3/4 meter and is in a legato-flowing, waltz-like style. The last movement reminds me of caroling music, in a bright, clipping “Allegro moderato” tempo. Together, these works show a unique and distinctive style all of Yukiko’s own.
It’s interesting, but many times the lead or more difficult of the three parts is in the euphonium 2, with euphonium 1 as a kind of descant and euphonium 3 as a supporting role. This is obviously a very practiced and expert composition for euphonium ensemble! The three parts work well in their ranges with each other.
I would highly recommend this work, especially the first movement. Range and level would be suitable for the very advanced high school-aged trio and up. Thank you, Yukiko, for your very unique contributions to this instrument! The ranges are very doable: euphonium 1 E-flat to b-flat1, euphonium 2 E-flat to b-flat1, and euphonium 3 D to a1.
~Cynthia Short, Solo Euphoniumist, Des Moines Municipal Band
Baby Elephant Walk (from the Paramount Picture “Hatari!”) by Henry Mancini arranged for baritone-tuba quartet by Lennie Niehaus. Kendor Music, Inc. 21 Grove Street, P.O. Box 278, Delevan, New York 14042-0278. #18056. 2003. $9.
For those of you not old enough to remember this movie, believe it or not it is a John Wayne flick! I’m unfortunately old enough to remember, and, ever since, anyone wanting to picture something large and lumbering uses this melody, usually to comic effect. After a statement of the familiar theme in the first euphonium, the two tubas pass the theme back and forth, second tuba starting it and first tuba finishing. After the bridge, the two euphoniums play the original melody in harmony, and the piece ends with a “Peter Gunn” ending.
The arrangement is marked as a Grade 3, but I think that it is a pretty easy 3 and might even be done by a good middle school group. At two and a half minutes in length, it’s pretty short. A young group might do this on a recital program to lighten the mood, and an older group could use this for a “pops” type event. It would be very easy to put some repeats on sections, or a D.S. or D.C. and lengthen the piece.
Ranges of the parts are baritone 1 B-flat to g1, baritone 2 B-flat to e-flat1, tuba 1 BB-flat to g, and tuba 2 BB-flat to e-flat.
~Michael Short, Drake University
Ship on Fire, A Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble Melodrama by Henry Russell arranged by William R. Lee for four-part tuba-euphonium ensemble and voice. Tuba-Euphonium Press, David Miles, editor. 3811 Ridge Road, Annandale, Va. 22003-1832. (703) 916-0711; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.tubaeuphoniumpress.com. 2003. $12.
After first glance at this appropriately-called melodrama, it was all I could do to keep from laughing. That was unfair. You may not have heard of Henry Russell. He was an English composer who lived from 1812 to 1900 and was a fine baritone singer and a prolific composer. He studied with Rossini, Bellini, and Donizetti, no slouches when it comes to dramatic music. Russell even spent time in the United States as organist at the First Presbyterian Church in Rochester, New York from 1833–1841, returning to England in 1845. What you probably would know is his song Woodman! Spare That Tree, which generations of brass players have played thanks to Mr. Arban. This arrangement of Ship on Fire is apparently only part of the full work that is about 10 minutes long (this excerpt is about four minutes). The lyrics, by Charles Mackay, speak of the burning and sinking of a ship that catches fire, with sailors and a young couple with their child escaping by the lowering of a boat. I expected at any moment to see that immortal line from the 1920s tune Sadie Green, the Vamp of New Orleans “Fireman, save my child,” which was given a whole new meaning in that song. I wonder if audiences would have the same problem as I am trying to figure out if it was a parody or not.
But this is, after all, meant to be a serious piece. The major flaw, as I see it, is in the arrangement. The first twelve measures are unison in all the parts, only separated by octaves, and this makes for a rather empty sound. Even the moving parts are doubled at the octave, be they the triplet arpeggios or the sixteenth note runs, first by second euphonium and second tuba, then first euphonium and first tuba. When things finally get going and seem like we should be hearing chords, we are hearing the two tubas playing the same part! There are very few places that the entire chord gets fleshed out. I don’t know if Mr. Lee was simply following Mr. Russell’s original, but I don’t really find the end result very effective. What could be done is to change the parts to flesh out the sound a little more, but that’s not really something you the buyer should have to do.
There is a separate voice part included in this set that has a written range of c1 to e-flat2 (with an optional g2) all in treble clef and intended for a soprano, but I would imagine any voice could be substituted. The ranges are euphonium I G to g1, euphonium II G to d1, tuba I BB-flat to g, and tuba II FF-sharp to e-flat.
~Michael Short, Drake University
Troika by Sergei Prokofiev arranged by David Butler for tuba-euphonium quartet or 4-part ensemble (with optional percussion). Tuba-Euphonium Press, David Miles, editor. 3811 Ridge Road, Annandale, Va. 22003-1832. (703) 916-0711; email@example.com; www.tubaeuphoniumpress.com. 2003. $15.
Troika comes to us from the film score to Alexander Feinzimmer’s Lieutenant Kije, Prokofiev’s first undertaking on his return to Russia in 1933. It portrays a three-horse sleigh and ranks among the orchestral tubist’s “top 10” list for fun parts to play, and I guess I’ll date myself by saying I cannot hear it without picturing Woody Allen running through the countryside. I was surprised that some of my undergrads had actually never heard the piece before!!
The score comes with a very nice biography. Ranges for each part are euphonium 1 c to a-flat1, euphonium 2 c-sharp to f-sharp1, tuba 1 C to a-flat, and tuba 2 FF to g-flat.
The optional percussion calls for sleigh bells, triangle, and tambourine. At our reading session, we enlisted two young daughters of an ensemble member, presented them with a set of car keys each, and said “go.” That worked very well for effect, and the cuteness factor was unbelievable. There are divisi in the euphonium 2 so more than a simple quartet would be needed. All parts except tuba 1 call for mutes.
To achieve a successful performance of this arrangement, one would need players with excellent multiple tonguing skills. There are many measures of repeated sixteenth-note figures played by both euphoniums together and later appearing in the second tuba, and the tessitura of the first euphonium part “hangs” between middle c and high f. This makes for some fatigue issues if the tongue begins to “tighten up.” Overall Mr. Butler has produced another very nice arrangement for tuba-euphonium ensemble, which is a “crowd pleaser.”
~Phillip C. Black, Wichita State University, Wichita Symphony
Four Polkas arranged for tuba-euphonium quartet by Scott Schlesinger. Tuba-Euphonium Press, David Miles, editor. 3811 Ridge Road, Annandale, Va. 22003-1832. (703) 916-0711; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.tubaeuphoniumpress.com. Approximate duration 4:00. $12.
This set of pieces is a basic four-part arrangement of existing polkas. The arrangements are quite simple, but sound okay for what they are. They could be useful for Oktoberfest or casual performances and could be performed by a high school group or even by a junior high. The parts are indicated to be played by one euphonium and three tubas but could be easily played by two euphoniums and two tubas.
There are some problems with the format and notation in the parts. The first two polkas of the four are published in score form only, while the other two are published as individual parts. The parts are not labeled on the front and, since they all start with a score, they all look the same. Simply labeling the front page of each part could have avoided this unnecessary confusion. Only one of the polka arrangements appears to be completely finished. It has a tempo marking. The other three do not. It provides a translation of the German title. The other three do not. It has dynamic markings. Two of the others do not. Various notation errors are annoying, like a missing slur here or a duplicate one there, or a repeat with a first ending, but no second ending, or an incorrect repeat sign in a measure that also says “to next strain.” There is also a “D.S. al Fine,” but the “Fine” measure is not indicated. Another problem is that in one polka the arranger asks the players to clap. This in itself would be a cute effect, but he only gives each player one eighth-rest to stop playing and clap and sometimes no rest at all before you have to begin playing again. Try clapping with both hands and then playing the next eighth-note on your horn. It does not work. Maybe a foot stomp would be better.
Some thorough revision and proofreading by the arranger is called for. It would not take long and would make this a much more serviceable piece of music. Hopefully, these deficiencies will be corrected before more sets are sold.
~Mark Mordue, Ball State University
Chorale Prelude and Fugue on Puer Nobis by David Kassler for four-part tuba-euphonium ensemble. Tuba-Euphonium Press, David Miles, editor. 3811 Ridge Road, Annandale, Va. 22003-1832. (703) 916-0711; email@example.com; www.tubaeuphoniumpress.com. $15.
I am so thankful for “Google” when works to review come with no composer information. For instance, I just now learned that Dr. David Kassler, DMA University of Miami 2004, is Assistant Professor of Low Brass and Symphonic Winds “just down the road a piece” at Ft. Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. From his biography he appears to be primarily a trombone/euphonium player.
Part ranges are euphonium 1 G to c2, euphonium 2 D to f1, tuba 1 GG to b-flat, and tuba 2 DD to a. Though the title states four-part tuba-euphonium ensemble, you actually need at least six players to cover this piece due to divisi in the tuba 1 and euph 1 parts. Then you might want to have a few extra players handy to help “make the page turns” which fall in mid-phrase in all parts. You would really have to do some “page turn only” photocopying to perform this work. With a notation to “perform in the style of a pipe organ throughout,” I feel sorry for the 2nd tuba player as they play 15 measures of pedal D. There is a questionable spot in that where after three tied measures of DD, with what looks like a continuation of the tie, the next note is printed as a BB which threw a wrench into our gears as we read.
There is some very awkward note spacing in the parts in that some measures are huge, and some are squeezed together. Some of the players were concerned with part spacing issues. For the most part, the voices are kept rather widely spaced except for one instance where the tuba 1 part is above the euphonium 2 for several measures. The players voted to keep it in the books and work around the issues. It works well only if your ensemble has euphonium 1 players with good high chops and endurance and tuba 2 players with a great pedal register.
~Phillip C. Black, Wichita State University, Wichita Symphony
Ancient Airs & Dances, Suite #1 (1917) by Ottorino Respighi arranged and abridged for brass quintet by Craig Garner. Dorm 40 Music. Manchester, N.H. and Penns Grove, N.J. www.dorm40music.com. Duration: 13 minutes. Price $22.
A Google search for Craig Garner led me to the information that Mr. Garner has other previous brass arrangements available. A Yahoo press release announcing the www.dorm40music site where brass players can post their works for sale online and receive royalties when purchases are made is also available. I’m glad I did this search because the actual contact information was not printed anywhere on the score or parts.
Ottorino Respighi arranged three suites of works from the Renaissance between the years 1917–1932. He was able to capture the beauty and elegance of this music in an orchestral setting. Craig Garner sought to further refine, condense, and distill this beautiful music from Suite #1 for the brass quintet. His efforts are “mostly” a good success.
Having the luxury of an “in-house” quintet amenable to reading and commenting produced these results. The score and parts are very well printed and edited to avoid impossible page turns. We decided to keep this in our folders as a good example of this type of period music, however all agreed on not wanting to perform the whole 13-minute selection on a concert. The work is suitable for a college student ensemble and would help them “get some style” under their belts. Individual movements stand alone well for use in church or wedding prelude settings. This is a pleasing if “somewhat safe” arrangement . It will not set the world on fire, but would be very handy in the folder.
~Phillip C. Black, Wichita State University, Wichita Symphony
Symphony No. 1 by Gustav Mahler arranged and abridged for brass quintet by Craig Garner. Dorm 40 Music, Manchester, N.H. and Penns Grove, N.J. www.dorm40music.com. 1998. Approximate duration 24:00. $48.
This is an arrangement of all four movements of the first symphony (it does not include the Blumine movement sometimes heard). My colleagues in our brass quintet gave a chuckle when I asked them to read the piece for me. That said we discovered that it is actually quite well done and very fun to play. Does it sound like the symphony? No, not really. However, most of us play quintet arrangements of West Side Story or Porgy and Bess. Do they sound like the original works? No, but they are fun to play and audiences like them.
Craig Garner has boiled the work down to all the well-known themes and accompaniment figures. The arrangement has a few spots where it sounds a little thin and you realize a quintet does not quite fill up the hall like an orchestra would, but it still comes off well. It is a lot like an Ewald quintet, very tuneful and listenable. There is too much music here to try to comment on it all. Suffice it to say that the parts are not terribly hard. It comes with parts in both B-flat and C for the trumpets. Every instrument gets some very satisfying solo exposure. The only complaint might be that everyone plays too much. There are places to rest but not a whole lot.
Some audiences would not know the themes from Mahler’s first symphony the way they do those from West Side Story or Porgy and Bess, but it is still excellent music that is pleasing to almost everyone. This would work well on a college faculty quintet recital or any brass conference performance. You might even perform just one movement on a program. I think this would also be a great piece to have a student group play. The parts are accessible for any college student quintet. It would be an excellent way to familiarize students intimately with a major piece of the orchestral repertoire. This is an expensive arrangement but worth the money in my opinion. You will really enjoy it.
~Mark Mordue, Ball State University
Chicken Reel by Joseph M. Daly arranged for brass quintet by David J. Kosmyna. BVD Press. www.bvdpress.com. Catalogue # BVD-117, 2003. Approximate duration 2:30. $15.
Here’s a short, handy arrangement of a well-known tune. It’s one of those tunes you can’t remember the name of and didn’t know it had a composer (thought it was just “traditional”), but when you hear it you say, “oh yeah.” The subtitle labels it “Two-Step and Buck Dance (1910)” and the music indicates it should be played “with a swingy Ragtime feel.” The accompanying bio of arranger David Kosmyna indicates that he has a master’s degree in composition from Ohio University and is finishing his doctorate in performance at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He is currently the trumpet professor at the State University of New York, College at Fredonia. He is also a specialist in New Orleans Jazz.
The style of the arrangement is lively and jazzy, with a sort of ragtime or Dixieland feel. It’s not hokey or “barnyard” sounding at all. It’s a simple ABA form with a short introduction and an up-tempo ending. The arranger has done a fine job in making the piece entertaining, and sounds like a lot of fun. The music is not terribly hard and the range for each instrument is very reasonable. The trumpets get most of the melodic work, but there’s a little something for everybody. The piece could be played by high school or college groups, but it is also very serviceable for a professional ensemble. It could have a place in several concert situations: for casual concerts in schools, senior centers, or outdoors, at Oktoberfest, or as an encore anytime. It would be well worth the $15 cost for any group to add it to their library.
~Mark Mordue, Ball State University
Baroque Suite, duet for bassoon and tuba by Antony Paasch. Tuba-Euphonium Press, David Miles, editor. 3811 Ridge Road, Annandale, Va. 22003-1832. (703) 916-0711; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.tubaeuphoniumpress.com. 2002. $10.
This is a six-movement work that is laid out as you might expect. The movements, “Prelude,” “Gavotte,” “Courante,” “Sarabande,” “Minuet,” and “Gigue,” are exactly what you might expect from, say, a J.S. Bach suite. And there is a lot of thematic material that he borrows from Bach. Even what appears at first to be a modern twist, syncopating the tuba melody in the bassoon a sixteenth note later, is something that was sometimes done in the Baroque period. There are some nice sonorities, and Mr. Paasch shows a competent knowledge of music of the period. In trying to make it sound more modern, however, I think he detracts from the effectiveness of the music. In playing through the music, my wife and I were surprised by the ending of the E major “Gavotte,” where there is a major seventh between the bottom and the top voice. The piece was engaging right up to that moment, and all of a sudden we felt as though we’d committed a Bronx cheer. There was another at the end of the “Courante,” the finale “Gigue,” and at the end of the “Minuet,” with a ninth that seems out of place.
These rude noises aside this is a worthwhile composition to perform and could easily be done by a good high school tubist. There is a slight problem with the designation of the piece as shown above. The copy in front of me says “bassoon and tuba,” but the newest Tuba-Euphonium Press listing does not list it anywhere in that instrumentation. It does have, however, “euphonium and tuba” in its listings. This makes good sense, and the one difference you would notice is that you would have to be more careful of balance performing with a bassoon, where a euphonium sound is not only more compatible but would have more carrying power. The range of the bassoon/euphonium part is C-sharp to c2, and the tuba part is EE to b.
~Michael Short, Drake University
Berlin for Brass (Naxos # 8.559123) and Foster for Brass (Naxos # 8.559124); CD recordings featuring the Chestnut Brass Company brass quintet. Obtained from www.amazon.com.
Now in its 28th year of continuous operation, the Grammy award winning Chestnut Brass Company has produced two new compilations of tunes by those favorite American songsmiths, Irving Berlin and Stephen Foster. As with other ensembles that have been around for decades, their personnel has changed somewhat over the years. Founders Bruce Barrie (trumpet) and Jay Krush (tuba) are the continuity, Marian Hesse (horn) and Larry Zimmerman (trombone) have been with the group for a long time, and relative newcomer Susan Sexton (trumpet) rounds out the ensemble at the time of these recordings. The Chestnut Brass Company are well known as one of the world’s finest brass quintets, both on modern instruments and on their historical predecessors from cornetts and sackbuts, through keyed bugles and ophicleides, and the almost modern 19th-century valved instruments. After a string of successful recordings using only the antique brasses, the group’s most recent albums feature only the modern instruments. With these two Naxos releases, they offer some of both worlds.
Irving Berlin, who was a musically illiterate immigrant (his family spent time in Siberia), blossomed into one of America’s best-loved song composers over a lifetime that spanned a full century. From his start as a singing waiter, the former Israel Baline wrote ragtime for the publishing houses of Tin Pan Alley (his first hit was Alexander’s Ragtime Band), musical revues through WWI, post-war Broadway songs, scores for Hollywood’s depression era Fred Astaire musical films, patriotic songs and revues during WWII, and full Broadway musicals until his retirement. Berlin for Brass features a selection of 19 songs spanning these genres, with most arrangements by tubist Jay Krush.
The tunes include well-known titles such as Alexander’s Ragtime Band, Puttin’ on the Ritz, Heat Wave, White Christmas, Harlem on My Mind, and There’s No Business Like Show Business (God Bless America being notable for its absence here). Lesser known selections include I’ll See You In Cuba, Listening, Lazy, What’ll I Do?, That International Rag, and When I Lost You. Most songs are presented in something akin to their original flavor, but the arrangers are not shy about treating When I Lost You as a salsa number, or Heat Wave in a Latin styling. Indeed, the non-traditional flavors include jazz, Dixie, mambo, calypso in addition to the above examples. Also notable is the album’s extensive use of interesting instrumentation (albeit using exclusively modern instruments) and tone altering devices, including a home made plunger mute for the tuba that makes its appearance in Get Thee Behind Me, Satan. This is a fun album.
In contrast to Berlin’s long life, Stephen Collins Foster lived his mere 38 years in the middle of the 19th century and spent most of that time in poverty. This, combined with his itinerant youth and the increasing national strife during his life that culminated with the Civil War, is reflected in the subject matter of his songs. So many of them dealt with separation, longing, loss, and nostalgia, but this is in large part what endeared them to the public. In spite of the melancholy in the songs and his hard life, Foster was not only America’s first full time professional songwriter, but also it’s first great one. Foster for Brass includes 27 tunes either composed by him or inspired by his work.
Foster’s first successful song was Oh! Susanna, but that selection does not appear on this album. However, many of his best-known works are present, including Beautiful Dreamer, Come Where My Love Lies Dreaming, and Some Folks. Also here are tunes associated with the war, like We Are Coming Father Abraam, 300,000 More, and Santa Anna’s Retreat from Buena Vista. Jay Krush prepared many of the selections from surviving piano and band arrangements, but other composers have also arranged Foster’s songs and many of those appear on the CD. These include G.W.E. Friedrich’s Massa’s in the Cold Ground, My Old Kentucky Home march, Ellen Bayne Quick Step, and Old Dog Troy march, Willie Schottisch by Septimus Winner, William Ratel’s Camptown Quick Step, and Hard Times waltz by James Bellak. For this album, the group plays on a set of over-the-shoulder saxhorns, consisting of soprano in E-flat, soprano in B-flat, alto in E-flat, baritone in B-flat and contrabass in E-flat, and their unique timbre contributes to the wonderful period sound. Highly recommended.
~Paul Schmidt, Heavy Metal Music
Four German Brass CD recordings featuring Walter Hilgers (tuba) and Enrique Crespo (trombone, arranger, director) as part of a 10-piece brass ensemble. Bach 2000, Kreuz # K 1695, released in 1999. Bach ins 3. Jahrtausend (Bach Anniversary 3000), Kreuz # K 1859, released in 2000. Bach Dimensionen (Bach Dimensions), Kreuz # K 2183, released in 2002. Bach in Brass, Kreuz # K 2415, released in 2004. Verlagsgruppe Dornier GmbH, Kreuz Verlag GmbH & Co, KG, Liebknechtstrasse 33, 70565 Stuttgart, Germany. Available from the group website www.germanbrass.de.
Germany’s answer to the heritage of other large brass ensembles such as Philip Jones’ would have to be the group German Brass. Already 30 years old, they have 20 or so CDs and DVDs in their discography, with about half being classical and the rest leaning more to jazz and pop. They are excellent in all styles, but Baroque is where they really shine. This review concentrates on their four all-Bach CDs.
Reminiscent of the recordings by the 1970s pop group Emerson, Lake and Palmer, these CDs repeat many of the same arrangements, so the listener should be aware of the redundancy. In addition, their live Bach concert on DVD, German Brass Goes Bach (re-released in more sober and tasteful packaging under the title Bach for Brass) gives yet another version of many of the duplicated selections. For this reason, this review will cover the arrangements and will not dwell on the insignificant differences between the performances on the various CDs. After each selection, I have included one or more album catalog numbers (e.g. 2183) to show which recording(s) includes the piece.
The bright “Allegro spiritoso e con brio” from the Italian Concerto BWV 971 (2183 & 2415) is arranged by euphonium player and group founder Enrique Crespo and trumpeter Matthias Höfs, and, as with most German Brass arrangements, sticks close to Bach’s original. These are not stylized or jazzed-up pop versions of the pieces, unless otherwise noted. On a more somber note is the “Adagio” from Toccata and Fugue in C Major BWV 564 (2183), and the phrasing here between the horn and trombone choirs is sublime. One of my favorites is the Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 BWV 1048 (2183 & 2415), which I have loved ever since I heard Wendy Carlos’ synthesized treatment in the original Switched-On-Bach in 1968. Indeed, listening to this arrangement’s phrasing, dynamics, and articulation, I can’t help but wonder to what extent the group’s likely familiarity with Carlos’ exciting electronic styling might have influenced their own art. All that is missing is the extravaganza in the former’s famous middle movement. However, the group has other tricks up its sleeve; see the jazz version with chorus described later.
The gentle “Jesus bleibet meine Freunde” from Cantata BWV 147 (2183 & 2415) exhibits a sonority akin to what one commonly expects from British brass bands, and in the same vein Bist du bei mir from the Anna Magdalena Notebook (2183 & 2415) is pure subtlety. Bigger, but of the same composure, is the chorale-prelude Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme in it’s elaborate version from the organ work, BWV 645 (2183 & 2415). Another chorale-prelude is Ich ruf zu dir Herr Jesu Christ from the Little Organ Book (2415). A simple chorale of Es ist genug from Cantata BWV 60 “O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort” (2183) concludes one album. One more short selection of this type is the Sinfonia (Arioso) to Cantata 156 (1695). Jesus bleibet… and Wachet auf…can also be found in versions with the Bavarian Radio Choir (1859), the arrangements here are more traditional in having the brass playing only the normal orchestra parts.
Some of the most spectacular playing can be found in the orchestral transcriptions found mostly on two of the CDs. The Concerto in D major BWV 972, after Vivaldi (2415 & 1695), contains some of the most impressive virtuoso playing one can hear. Trumpeter Matthias Höfs has lips of steel and a fluid dexterity in the transcribed solo violin part of the first and third movements, and Enrique Crespo joins him on valve trombone in a silky duet in the middle “Larghetto.” The majesty and lyricism of the “Sinfonia” from the Partita in C minor BWV 826 (2415) is a nice contrast to the sprite selections from the Orchestral Suites No. 1 in C major BWV 1066, No. 2 in B minor BWV 1067, and No. 3 in D major BWV 1068. These include the Overture from No. 3 (1695), the Bourrée from No. 1 (2415 & 1695), Air (on the G String) from No. 3 (2415 & 1695), Forlane from No. 1 (1695), and Badinerie from No. 2 (2415 & 1695).
The CDs also include some works originally for the keyboard. The famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor BWV 565 (2415 & 1695) sticks close to the organ original until near the end, when arranger Crespo adds flashy passages in the trumpets to make things even more exciting. The Prelude and Fugue in C sharp minor BWV 849 from the Well-Tempered Clavier (1695) is beautiful rather than spectacular.
Besides the aforementioned chorale tunes, with or without voices, the CDs have some actual larger scale choral selections to offer. Three movements each from the Christmas Oratorio BWV 248 and Easter Oratorio BWV 249 (1695) can be heard in brass-only transcriptions, while the same three from the Christmas Oratorio appear with the Bavarian Radio Choir (1859) on the traditional choral parts. The arrangements on these pieces, with or without the vocalists appear to be otherwise identical. Departing from straight baroque style, the brass and choral groups team up on three jazzy semi-scat versions by Peter Lawrence. These are Choral and Contrapunctus (after “Erbarm dich mein, O herre Gott” BWV 721), Das Kaffeewasser kocht (freely based on the Fantasie and Fugue in G minor for organ BWV 542), and Brandenburg Jazz (after Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 BWV 1048); these sound like what the Swingle Singers would do if they had a brass backup band (1859). I am less enthusiastic about these latter jazz and choir selections.
Finally, it is time to mention the questionable material offered on two of the CDs. Arranger Crespo has produced a mixed bag of aggressively contemporary pieces that are so far from Bach that they probably should have been for another album. The most significant is Metamorphosen in four movements with choir and orchestra (2183 & 1859). This is based loosely on the Wachet auf… themes and is well played by the brass, Bavarian chorus, and Berlin Symphonic orchestra, but when this track comes up after all the nice stuff, I am startled and disagreeably so. Note that CD 1859 is inexplicably missing one of the five movements. Along the same lines is the selection In(ter)vention for Choir and Brass Ensemble (1859), arranged by Dieter Wendel. On the other hand, the Peter Lawrence piece Et (Un) Expecto from the B minor Mass (2183) is a bit more restrained. This one starts out with brass and orchestra and seems to be a straight arrangement before drifting progressively into a traditional jazz version of the tune.
These CDs are all brilliant albums and are full of exciting playing of a flawless nature. My only reservations are the large degree of redundancy between them, and the questionable taste of a few of the arrangements as outlined above. In my opinion, most of the slightly silly jazz numbers, in spite of high performance quality, don’t fit here and should have been put on another recording all by themselves. I highly recommend these CDs, with the exception of 1859, which has little to offer other than a couple of nice choral numbers.
There remains some difficulty in obtaining recordings by the German Brass. Their CDs and DVDs are not distributed well outside of Germany, a few titles excepted. I have found it necessary to purchase most selections directly from the group’s website, www.germanbrass.de, and this was previously quite confusing for anyone who is not fluent in German. The website has been recently updated to include limited English and French language extensions, but as of this writing, the final ordering process must still be done in German. I offer the following clues to assist English speakers.
Select recordings in the usual web shop fashion (Bestellen is the button to click to add an item to the shopping cart, and click Bestellen or Weiter to advance towards checkout). When you see RECHNUNGSANSCHRIFT, enter your mailing address. You must put something in all spaces that have bold-faced titles. For people in the USA, Anrede means your title (Mr. or Mrs.), Vorname and Nachname are your first and last names, Straße is your street address, leave the next line blank, PLZ is the zip code, and Ort is where you want to type your town, state, and the letters USA. For Land, select Vereinigte Staaten for United States (other countries’ German names are a bit easier to decipher), then click Weiter to proceed. If you get a message with a check box, asking about AGB’s and such, check the box (it is a formality) and continue. If you do not get this, there is a problem with your address as entered (it is very picky with non-German formatted addresses, but my suggested format has worked well in the past). The credit card entry page should be next, and it takes Visa, requiring both the card number and the three-digit security code from the back of the card. Click Bestellen to complete the order, and you should be rewarded with Vielen Dank fur Ihre Bestellung (Thanks for your order), and an email confirmation should be on its way. Delivery takes about 2 weeks in my experience. If all else fails, send an email to Mr. Friedemann Boltes at email@example.com, and he can assist in English, even to the point of taking the order via email.
~Paul Schmidt, Heavy Metal Music
Scheidt CD recording featuring Walter Hilgers (tuba) and Enrique Crespo (trombone, arranger, director) as part of a ten-piece brass ensemble, German Brass. Kreuz # K 1700. Verlagsgruppe Dornier GmbH, Kreuz Verlag GmbH & Co, KG, Liebknechtstrasse 33, 70565 Stuttgart Germany. Available from group website www.germanbrass.de (see separate review of Bach CDs for extra ordering information). 1999.
This recording, alternately labeled as Allerley liebliche Täntze & Liedlein auff Concerten Manir, Samuel Scheidt (1587–1654), contains eight groups of tunes by the composer, all given fine readings by the German Brass. This group, now into its 31st year, continues to produce recordings of unsurpassed musicianship and technical quality. The album title translates as “All kinds of charming dances and songs played in the concertante manner,” and the playing is indeed charming.
Scheidt was referred to after his death as “one of the three most famous composers of the 17th Century whose names begin with S.” Certainly, every brass player has enjoyed playing many of the numerous arrangements of his early Baroque compositions. The album opens with the Suite for 10 Brass Instruments (Blechbläser), one of Scheidt’s most famous pieces. The concluding Galliarda Battaglia is the best known and has been recorded numerous times by other large brass ensembles. This is probably the tightest and most exciting recording one can find of the Galliarda due in part to the unconventional decision to place the piccolo trumpet higher than normal on certain key lines where they really sparkle. The player who takes these lines, probably Matthias Höfs, continues along these lines through many of the other selections on the recording. Some might disagree about this approach, but it certainly wakes you up.
Next comes Variations on a Gagliarda by John Dowland and Variations on the Dutch Song “Ei, du feiner Reiter,” both arranged by H. Ch. Schuster; most of the balance of the selections are arranged by the regular German Brass writer Enrique Crespo. The transparency of the playing on the individual parts throughout these variations is excellent. Two smaller selections follow, the Canzon super “O Nachbar Roland” and Psalmus sub Communione “Jesus Christus, unser Heiland.”
Next are three chorale settings from the Tabulatur-Book of One Hundred Spiritual Songs and Psalms, Görlitz 1650; Ach Gott und Herr, Herr Gott, dich loben wir, and Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme. These are in contrast to the rest of the selections, being soft and gentle in character; the playing is simply sensuous.
The recording concludes with the Bergamasca, also arranged by Schuster, starting slowly and building excitement until taken over by the Echo from Tabulatura Nova, Hamburg 1624, which as one might expect consists of stylized echoes. This is a fine example of brass playing that will find a welcome place on any brass player’s shelf.
~Paul Schmidt, Heavy Metal Music
Unaccompanied Suites BWV 1007–1012 by J.S. Bach transcribed for tuba by Ralph Sauer. Sheet music or CD-ROM. Cherry Classics Music. www.cherry-classics.com. $14.95 sheet music, $17.95 CD-ROM, plus shipping. 2004.
Ralph Sauer is no stranger to brass transcriptions and performance practices having spent countless years performing with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and arranging brass music for such groups as Summit Brass and the Los Angeles Trombone Ensemble. This new edition of the Bach cello suites is a refreshing reminder that even old music can come alive in new ways and formats. In this latest reincarnation, the complete edition of the six suites is presented in their entirety. It can be purchased as sheet music or in .pdf Adobe Acrobat format on a CD-ROM. I found the easiest way to deal with the translation from electronic media to the music stand is to print the entire book of 48 pages directly from the disc and then bring the pages to your favorite print shop to copy them back to back and bind them with a circular binder and clear cover pages. It costs a little more but the page turns are designed for back-to-back viewing. Owning the CD-ROM also allows one to make a backup copy available in case the dog eats the music.
The tasteful introduction by Mr. Sauer explains in detail what he has tried to do with the Unaccompanied Cello Suites in terms of breathing, multiple stop solutions, and tessitura. The quote at the end of the discourse is perhaps the most illuminating: “This transcription is not intended to be a blueprint to be followed exactly—but rather, it is the raw material from which a personal interpretation can be built.”
The actual suites are difficult and not for budding players. The ranges are somewhat extensive from FF to d1, and the leaps are challenging. In addition, musicality will be challenged finding phrasing and dynamics as Mr. Sauer did not over edit this edition. In fact, it is free from much of the clutter of earlier editions and uses no tempo or style indications whatsoever other than suggested breath marks, slurs, and an occasional trill. I found playing from this edition marvelously liberating and have had fun trying different approaches to each suite. For the modest price and amazingly clear typeset, this edition is a real find. Highly recommended.
~Mark Nelson, Pima Community College
Collected Dreams CD recording featuring the duet of Damon Denton, synthesizers and Adam Frey, euphonium. Euphonium Enterprises, Inc. & Damon Denton. 7230 Cloverhurst Court, Cumming, Ga. 30041. Fax 770-754-7881; Attn: Adam Frey. firstname.lastname@example.org. www.collecteddreams.com, www.euphonium.com, www.adamfrey.com or www.damondenton.com. 2003. $15. CD Catalogue no. CD06.
If you enjoy listening to popular Scottish, Irish, classical, and sacred music, you’ll love this CD, performed in ‘new age’ style. Collected Dreams is a collection of songs, all arranged by Mr. Denton: Danny Boy, Arioso, Shenandoah, Last Rose of Summer, Ye Banks & Braes, Ave Maria, Over Yandro, The Swan, O Waly Waly, Shall We Gather at the River, and Amazing Grace (this work is dedicated to the fallen military and civilian heroes of war).
The euphonium predominately plays the role as the solo vocalist for each piece with the synthesizer predominately as accompaniment. Often both performers have recorded themselves on multiple track recording, contributing to the blending of sounds throughout the CD. The result is what could remind one of “angel music,” with lots of sustained voicing as a constant in all of the works, giving a dream-like quality to each piece and therefore achieving the theme of this recording.
Mr. Frey’s rich euphonium performance gives the listener an easy, straight, smooth, and full sound, never overpowering, and Mr. Denton’s synthesizers provide a very balanced blend of sounds.
~Cynthia Short, Solo Euphoniumist, Des Moines Municipal Band
SMILE: The Music of Marty Erickson CD recording featuring Marty Erickson, tuba; Marvin Stamm, flugelhorn/trumpet; Frank Mantooth, piano; Steve Houghton, drums; Rob Fisher, bass; and Ron Newman, piano. DEG Music Products, Inc./ Willson Band Instruments. Distributed by Tap Music Sales, 1992 Hunter Ave., Newton, Iowa 50208: USA. (641) 792-0352; http://www.tapmusic.com/. 2002.$18.
Tubist Marty Erickson continues to astound audiences as both a classical and jazz tuba soloist. His recent CD release Smile: The Music of Marty Erickson displays Erickson’s adeptness as a jazz musician and provides a very enjoyable musical listening experience.
Erickson’s choice of sidemen is particularly striking. Collaborating with such legendary jazz musicians as Marvin Stamm, Frank Mantooth, Steve Houghton, Rob Fisher, and Ron Newman, Erickson offers listeners a wide array of styles and moods ranging from up-tempo pop standards and ballads to funk, jazz waltzes, blues, and Latin works.
Ron Newman has contributed a significant amount of arrangements and original compositions to this album. The recording opens with a bossa-nova treatment of the Tchaikovsky ballet classic Swan Lake titled Boss-Swan-Nova, which offers Marty a forum for stratospheric solo treatment of this famous thematic material. This Won’t Hurt a Bit, an original tune by Newman written for five tubas (overdubbed by Erickson), flugelhorn , and rhythm section, offers a schizophrenic yet absolutely coherent flair. Marvin Stamm’s organically-derived silky flugelhorn solo offers a wonderful counterpoint to the angular, dissonant harmonies and punchy rhythmic hits. Newman’s arrangement of Cherokee offers a number of distinctive elements: a wonderfully inventive solo by Erickson, “float-time” treatment of the tune by Newman, great trading of fours with Houghton, and an amazing solo by Stamm featuring inhumanly-long eighth-note solo lines that frequently run upwards of 14–18 bars before taking a breath!
Newman’s terrific arrangement of Victor Herbert’s Indian Summer is a light-hearted samba treatment featuring Newman himself as well as a great unison passage with both himself and Erickson. Newman’s final arranging contribution to this album is an absolutely beautiful arrangement of Charlie Chaplin’s ballad Smile, a heartwarming yet melancholic work for tuba and piano. Marty Erickson’s lyricism and soul are readily apparent in this moving tribute to his wife Alison.
Stephen Bulla of the U.S. Marine Band offers Marty two interesting numbers on this recording. Bluzenfunky is a fun, brief work for five tubas and drums (again overdubbed by Erickson). Clearfield Driving, a straight-ahead original swing tune, alludes to the street on which both Erickson and Bulla lived as neighbors in Bowie, Maryland. Again, Newman, Erickson, and Stamm all shine in this setting.
Jeffrey Taylor’s arrangement of Dave Brubeck’s It’s a Raggy Waltz is a great down-home, gospel-tinged jazz waltz that adds just the right character to this recording. Marty Erickson’s own arrangements of Sonny Rollins’ Doxy and Thad Jones’A Child Is Born present these tunes in a very straightforward fashion which allow the soloists to speak for themselves.
Throughout this recording Rob Fisher’s driving basslines and Steve Houghton’s drumming create a vitality and energy, which is undeniably infectious. Their solid rhythmic underpinnings provide the foundation for a lot of great playing by the rest of the group.
This highly crafted and well-engineered album is a delight to listen to upon repeated listening. This recording demonstrates a commitment to stringent standards of performance and musicianship indicative of Marty Erickson’s overall commitment to the tuba. Let’s hope that this recording is only the first of Marty’s recorded contributions to the genre of jazz tuba performance.
~David Spies, Marian College
American Music for Tuba–Something Old, Something New CD recording featuring David Zerkel, Tuba, Anatoly Sheludyakov, Piano, and the University of Georgia Wind Ensemble. Mark Custom Recording Service, Inc., 10815 Bodine Road, Clarence, N.Y. 14031-0406. (716) 759-2600; www.markcustom.com. 2004. $15.
|It is nice to review a CD that offers so much, lives up to its promise, and has so few drawbacks. Now, before I launch into great praise for Mr. Zerkel, let me compliment George Ace for the booklet design and Mark Chalabala for the cover photo. I found myself leafing through the pages time and again enjoying all the excellent material provided about the music, composers, excellent pictures, and bios. It is nice to have publisher information provided. This CD should help boost sales for all concerned.
David Zerkel is a fine tubist! He is also fortunate to have “world class” pianist Anatoly Sheludyakov at the University of Georgia as an artist-in-residence and a very well prepared and “balanced” sounding University of Georgia Wind Ensemble under the direction of John Culvahouse. Having three pieces for tuba and piano, one solo tuba piece, and one work for tuba and wind ensemble, this CD is able to shift gears cleanly and hold the listeners interest throughout.
|The John Cheetham Sonata for Tuba and Piano has me thinking of next year’s recital already. It is an excellent and “refreshing” work. James Woodward’s Tuba Concerto brings “us tubists” a ray of hope that we too can be featured with the wind ensemble performing what could soon become an “instant classic” along the lines of the John Williams Concerto in the orchestral realm. Diversive Elements for euphonium, tuba, and piano by David Gillingham points out how well-crafted the CD has become today. David Zerkel recorded the tuba and piano together, then invited surprise “guest artist” David Zerkel to come record the euphonium track. The result is beautiful and humbling. It would be truly HARD to perform this duo “live” and achieve such success. However, as pure and rich as David’s tone is on tuba throughout this CD, I would also be happy to have him out to play euphonium on the duo in a live setting. Though he claims “not to be” a soloist on the instrument, his euphonium playing is thrilling.
I have saved my only gripe for last: on the Persichetti Serenade No.12 for Solo Tuba, it sounds as if there was a special microphone close to the mouthpiece to pick up the sound of every breath. Listening back to the other pieces, the breaths are there but more covered by the accompaniment. The solo work is played beautifully but with many distinct and well-recorded breaths. Overall, this is a really excellent CD and a “must have” for the new materials.
East Meets West CD recording featuring James Gourlay on tuba accompanied by the Grimethorpe Colliery (UK Coal) Band conducted by Garry Cutt and by John Wilson, pianist. Doyen Solo Series DOYCD141. Available from Doyen Recordings: Savationist Publishing and Supplies, Ltd. 1 Tiverton St., London SE1 6NT. Tel +0161 628 3799; Fax +020 7367 6589; www.doyen-recordings.co.uk. £12.95.
With his busy schedule as administrator of the Wind, Brass, and Percussion area at the Royal Northern Conservatory, conductor extraordinaire and virtuoso tuba soloist (his role in which most readers of this journal are familiar), James Gourlay also finds time to make top quality solo recordings that encompass both extremely familiar repertoire and important new music, which further seems to place him in the category of the super-human.
East Meets West brings together eastern (Górecki and Lebedjew) and western (Vaughan-Williams, Ellerby, Hindemith, and Carpenter) composers, but the symbolism of the album’s title does not stop there. Martin Ellerby’s work, Epitaph V: Winter Music (Leningrad) is a programmatic work focusing on the siege of Leningrad during World War II, and Gary Carpenter’s Fantasy on Themes from China Song is based on themes from the composer’s 1998 musical, which (according to the CD’s program note) is “based (very loosely) on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Nightingale…” set in China. This recording is well conceived in every respect and, as would be expected from James Gourlay, well performed throughout.
The question has arisen in the pages of this publication before: why another recording of the Vaughan-Williams, the Hindemith, or the Lebedjew (Lebedev)? As both a consumer and a pedagogue, this reviewer feels that both variety and history are well served by new performances of these standards. Would every leading soloist of our time could and would record these works for posterity? The unique “take” of each performer teaches me something new about the music and the composer in each instance. Mr. Gourlay’s recording is certainly no exception.
The Vaughan-Williams is very much at home with Phillip Littlemore’s fine arrangement of the orchestral accompaniment for brass band, well-read here by Gourlay and the famous Grimethorpe Colliery Band, and it makes this important piece of our repertoire available to a wider audience. In addition to an overall beautiful interpretation, this performance provides an especially fine source of instruction relative to the importance of clear articulation in performing this “chestnut” of the repertoire. Mr. Gourlay’s expressive articulation is definitive and the distinctive character of each theme in the outer movements is made unusually clear.
The performance of the Hindemith Sonate is superb. Mr. Gourlay’s lyrical gifts are well displayed in the first movement, and the second movement sparkles with clarity and excitement. In the third movement, Mr. Gourlay takes a little more time than is usually heard at the end of the first section, lending a distinctive flavor to his interpretation. John Wilson’s collaboration on what we all recognize as one of the most difficult piano accompaniments in our repertoire is sensitive, musical, and unarguably virtuosic.
Every young tuba or bass trombone performer who tackles the Lebedjew Concerto for the first time should hear this recording. The notion of “story” in the music is so apparent that it cannot help but inspire young performers—perhaps first with imitation, as this recording provides a great model, but hopefully also toward experimentation with interpretation.
Henryk Mikolaj Górecki has been a prominent composer in Poland for a long time, but most readers know him through the phenomenal success of his Symphony No.3 in the 1990s. His Aria for solo tuba, piano, tam-tam, and bass drum was unknown to this reviewer until now, and it is exciting that such an important composer has written a piece of such great impact for the tuba. This is one of the most striking pieces of music I have heard in some time. Gourlay’s interpretation brings (what seems to this writer to be) a very disquieting and disturbing musical experience that brings one to the edge of the chair from beginning to end.
Martin Ellerby’s Epitaph V is, according to the liner notes, part of a series of works designed to recall catastrophic events of the second world war, in this instance, the siege of Leningrad. This work demands both virtuosity and the ability to “tell a story” through the medium of the tuba. Mr. Gourlay takes the material provided by Ellerby and weaves a stunning two-part tale—the first portion embodied in a militaristic march and the second in a touching elegy. The Górecki and the Ellerby performances alone are worth the price of this CD. These works are great and moving music masterfully performed that should reach broad audiences beyond just the tuba community.
Gary Carpenter’s Fantasy on Themes from China Song, commissioned by James Gourlay, is a truly unique work in that the composer takes material from his own 1998 musical and sets them for tuba and brass band. This is an entertaining work, once again designed for the technical and lyrical capability of James Gourlay. The performance is impeccable (and entertaining) in every respect, bringing a stimulating hour of listening to a pleasant close.
Producer Nicholas Childs and recording engineer Richard Scott have every right to be as proud of their work with this recording as does James Gourlay and his supporting cast of performers. This is one of those “essential” recordings for every tubist and educator.
~Jerry A. Young, The University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire
Marc Dickman: A Weaver of Dream CD recording featuring Marc Dickman, euphonium; Bill Prince, trumpet, clarinet, flute, flugelhorn, tenor sax; Kevin Bales, piano; Rick Kirkland, drums; Ben Tucker, bass. Marc Dickman FMS-2391. Distributed by CD Baby, 5925 NE 80th Ave., Portland, Oregon 97218-2891 USA; (800) 289-6923 [800 -BUY-MY-CD]; email@example.com; www.cdbaby.com/cd/dickman. 2004. $15.
You may already be familiar with the work of Marc Dickman from his numerous jazz performances at national and international tuba-euphonium conferences and his performances and recordings with the acclaimed tuba-euphonium ensemble The MJT (Modern Jazz Tuba) Project. You might have heard his recordings with the traditional Swamp Dog Jazz Band. Perhaps you might have participated or attended his Yamaha -sponsored clinics, recitals, and master classes as or with the Florida All-State Jazz Ensemble. Or you might know him from his performances and recordings with The St. Johns River City Band and River City Swing Orchestra.
There’s yet another reason to become familiar with Marc Dickman. He has released his solo jazz debut recording, Marc Dickman: A Weaver of Dreams.
One of today’s best jazz euphonium artists, Marc Dickman continues the tradition set forth by the great Rich Matteson. Indeed, Dickman was a student of Matteson at the University of North Texas and a colleague of Matteson’s at the University of North Florida. Currently, Dickman is Associate Professor of Jazz Studies and Low Brass at North Florida, where he conducts one of the jazz ensembles as well as the tuba-euphonium choir.
A Weaver of Dreams is a potpourri of ballads, standards, and original compositions performed by some of the best jazz musicians in Florida. Supporting Dickman in this venture is sideman Bill Prince, a legendary multi-instrumentalist featured on trumpet, flugelhorn, clarinet, flute, and tenor sax, as well as an outstanding rhythm section consisting of Kevin Bales on piano, Rick Kirkland on drums, and Ben Tucker on bass.
The recording opens with the title track, a laid-back bop samba featuring Dickman and Prince on tenor sax with a tasty interlude by Kirkland. Bee-Bo, a solid modal original by Dickman in the vein of John Coltrane, features in addition to Dickman and Prince a wonderful piano solo by pianist Kevin Bales. Both Dickman and Bales are featured in a very hard swung version of Ellington’s Cotton Tail. Dickman’s soulful arrangement of Sonny Rollins’ Doxy shows Prince’s adept switch to clarinet as well as very tasty solos by Dickman, Bales, and Tucker.
Four Brothers, Bill Prince’s arrangement of the Jimmy Giuffre tune, demonstrates nice, closed voicings with Prince on flugelhorn and trumpet along with Dickman on euphonium. Prince’s trumpet playing on Allie Wrubel and Herb Magidson’s beautiful ballad Gone with the Wind and Duke Jordan’s Jordu is very lyrical and sophisticated. A very graceful addition to this playlist is Fats Waller’s tune Jitterbug Waltz, which shows Prince’s dexterity on flute.
On My Melancholy Baby, Dickman is very adept at conveying the appropriate mood, demonstrating that not only should jazz solos convey harmonic and melodic functions but also allude to the emotional content of the lyrics. The pace picks up with Coltrane’s Mr. P.C., featuring Kirkland’s drumming. Perhaps the most heartfelt playing on the album is conveyed through the original ballad Patrice Elaine, a tribute to the artist’s wife. The album concludes with another samba, the Bill Prince original Something Happy.
This disc comes across to this listener as a project in which master artists arrive at the studio with a general idea of what will be recorded but with little or no rehearsal involved. This results in a recording that displays a relaxed but highly artistic musical effort, much in keeping with jazz record dates from the 1950s and 1960s. I find this to be a very refreshing change in the world of tuba and euphonium recordings, a CD in which artistry and musicianship is stated simply, without coming across as overly rehearsed and edited.
A Weaver of Dreams leaves the listener in a very good mood. The album’s title also alludes to the interior cover art, which features highly creative makeovers of the artist. This is one album that should be on everyone’s “must-have” list.
~David Spies, Marian College
©2004 International Tuba Euphonium Association