Sunday, March 14, 2010

Opus Four

While the ITEA's professed view of the tuba in jazz indicates a renewal of popularity, acolytes of Charles Mingus know that the tuba never really went away to begin with. Mingus' legacy in jazz as a bassist, bandleader, and composer is nothing short of monumental (he was the only person ever fired by Duke Ellington), so it shouldn't surprise anyone that blazing a new trail was par for the course with Mingus, who notably included a tuba in his big band horn section - a role currently filled in the 14-piece group by Earl McEntyre.

Other notable tubists who worked with Mingus include Bob Stewart and, originally, Howard Johnson (who famously manufactured a wah-wah mute out of a toilet seat per his boss' request). Mingus also scored for tuba in his somewhat cryptic masterwork "Epitaph".

While I have neither the time nor energy to devote to discussing the significance of Charles Mingus, I can direct you to NPR for an engaging profile.

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