Saturday, April 3, 2010

Sugar Foot Stomp

The tuba was a regular member of early jazz bands (i.e. 1900-1940 pre-Ellington-era big bands), functioning as a bass member of the horn section and also a bass rhythm instrument. While I could name groups ad nauseum, I'd recommend any of the trumpeter/cornetist King Oliver's groups such as the King Oliver Orchestra or King Oliver's Dixie Syncopators. Many tuba players left their mark with these groups including Joe Tarto (otherwise known from the Whiteman Band, "Big Joe and his Tuba", and other such projects), Min Leibrook, and (included in this list due to his wildly improbable name) Bass Moore.

It is strange to think of the tuba being played alongside musicians who are considered true jazz auteurs - King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, James P. Johnson, Jelly Roll Morton, Joe Venuti, etc. However, this was once common practice and if you spend enough time perusing, you'll have the opportunity to listen to untold jazz tuba playing (even occasional solos!).

I should also mention that Iowa City is fortunate enough to be home to one of the leading early jazz revival groups, Mutiny in the Parlor. Unfortunately, their tuba player really sucks big moose ass. Contact me directly if you'd like to hear this fine, fine group.

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