The Jazz Column Marty Erickson (Associate Editor for Jazz)
In the next Journal, we will have a feature called “Catching Up With..,” a series which will spotlight jazz tuba and euphonium players of the past and present who have or who are presently introducing the public to the capabilities of our instruments in innovative ways. Recently, 1 had a nice visit with Howard Johnson at the annual U.S. Army Band Conference. Howard presented a wonderful program as guest artist with the Army Blues, which thrilled the audience. Howard began his jazz tuba career back in the early 60’s with Charles Mingus at the Five-Spot in New York. He was also leader/founder of the Saturday Night Live Band (which he led in 1979), and formed his first tuba ensemble in New York City called “Gravity.” So, we will visit with Howard and many others in the traditional, bebop and avante garde world. If you know of some players performing steady jazz gigs, or if you would like us to feature a particular performer, let us know. For that purpose e-mail me at martytuba® hotmail.com and we’ll look into it.
In this issue. I’d like “catch up with” a couple of performers playing “steady gigs” in the Maryland and Minnesota areas. Tom Holtz, is a tubist with the U.S. Marine Band in Washington D.C., but you can find him swinging as the regular tuba player with “The Last Chance Jazz Band” in Columbia, Maryland (at the Last Chance Saloon) every other Sunday. You’ll also see him wielding his Eb Helicon tuba with “Big Bertha’s Rhythm Kings” at Bertha’s restaurant, located at Fell’s Point in Baltimore, Maryland. The “Bertha’s” band plays every Wednesday night, and, if you’re flying into Baltimore and ask the flight attendants where you can catch some jazz, they are likely to say Bertha’s! The music in each case is hard-swinging traditional dixieland jazz.
Another “don’t miss” steady gig is happening in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the Arcadia Cabaret theater on Nicollet Avenue. Every Wednesday night, tubist Ralph Hepola entertains the patrons there with a potpourri of tunes. He performs completely alone except for his electronic gear, starting off with some “new age” pieces, some classical selections and then plenty of jazz, blues, latin jazz, ballads and some rock numbers. He is always programming new material. He features music literally from the 15th to the 21st Century! Ralph was formerly a member of the U.S. Army Band in Washington D.C. and played 5 years with the Basel Symphony Orchestra in Switzerland. He is now with the Minnesota Opera and has been featured on many recording sessions. He uses tuba, digital rhythm programmer and an effects processor for his shows.
Let us know about your favorite players… even is it’s YOU!