The two of us spend a ton of time in a vehicle together, traversing the United States and occasionally foreign lands, touring with Boston Brass. (Ask us sometime about driving through Italy in the middle of the night when our GPS unit completely stopped working and we had no map and no clue how to get back to our hotel!) It leaves us with a lot of time to brainstorm about lots of different things.
Last year it dawned on us, and we’re sure you’ll agree, that the world was really lacking a tuba/euphonium duo album. We actually didn’t think that at all but thought it would be a lot of fun to put one together! The result is this album. It features one tune with both of us playing (and singing - you’ve been warned) and the rest features one of us with any number of other musicians. This album was a blast to make and to put together!
The first tune, featuring both of us, was composed by a young, amazing euphonium player and composer by the name of Fernando Deddos. We met Fernando while on a Boston Brass trip to Tatui, Brazil. He blew us away with his euphonium playing and writing. The piece features a little bit of singing (in Portuguese!) and some unorthodox percussion as well. We recorded Fernando’s tune in Arizona with the great Clarke Rigsby and Sam Pilafian in the same studio we played with Steve Gadd for the last Boston Brass album. Great memories.
Lance has enjoyed the music of Astor Piazzolla for many years and wanted to record a couple of his favorites. Rich Ridenour and Marty and Alison Erickson lent their amazing talents to the tracks.
Celtic music has always caught Lance’s ear, with great combinations of beautiful melodies and stunning virtuosity. The euphonium is (obviously) not one of the instruments normally associated with that style of music but the instrument is generally known for those who qualities so he thought it would be fun to try to combine the two.
Sam Pilafian is one of Lance’s mentors and a great friend. He asked him to both produce his recording and to write a piece for the project. “Relentless Grooves II: Armenia” is the product of that second request. Sam has written a series of pieces called “Relentless Grooves.” In the series, Sam combines scale and rhythm patterns from various countries into exciting features for brass soloists and (usually) percussion. In this piece, Sam drew on the music of his heritage (Armenian) and created music that runs the emotional gamut from unfathomable sorrow to overwhelming joy. Todd Chuba, Dom Moio, Deanna Swoboda and Sam himself play on the accompanying tracks.
“Escape” is a brass quintet by a great, young composer, Kevin McKee. Andrew filled out the quintet from among the countless incredible military band brass players residing in his current home, Washington DC. There aren’t too many cities in the world that you can easily form a lineup like this for a pickup brass quintet: Kevin Gebo (U.S. Army Ceremonial Band) and Matthew Harding (Principal Cornetist - President’s Own Marine Band) on trumpet, Joe Lovinsky (Pershing’s Own U.S. Army Band) on horn and Matt Neiss (U.S. Army Blues) on trombone. A special thank you to Phil Snedecor for producing the session as well.
“Blues in F for Unaccompanied Tuba” is a composition by Andrew’s fellow faculty member at George Mason University, Mike Nickens. Mike is an incredible tuba player, composer, arranger and educator. The first time Andrew read this tune he knew he had to record it and it has become a regular staple of his solo repertoire.
The last three tracks were recorded with Andrew’s klezmer band, Balagan. Balagan was founded by one of Andrew’s best friends, Ben Baron, a clarinetist in New York City. It also features the incomparable Rich Kelley on trumpet (former lead trumpet of Boston Brass) and one of the most versatile musicians you will ever meet in guitarist Dan Lippel. The last tune, “Der Heiser Bulgar,” has a decidedly un-klezmer twist to it so be ready for it.
This album has a little bit of everything. Irish gigues, tangos, brazilian music, klezmer, dixie, blues, straight ahead classical. If you have half as much fun listening to it as we had making it we think you’ll be a satisfied customer.