My favorite part about being a musician is being surrounded by some of the most wonderful, creative and thoughtful people on the planet. Tubacus Galacticus shatters the ‘norm’ of what one would expect from a tuba-euphonium quartet, and pushes the ceiling higher on what we can expect as chamber music moves forward in the 21st century.
From their inception in 2004, Off Bass Brass has taken the idiom of Tuba/Euphonium Quartet in a different direction. By incorporating a rhythm section from the outset, the quartet has transformed into a septet. This collaboration has widened the available palette for many new original compositions as well as jazz, rock, fusion, latin, and big band arrangements that the members of Off Bass Brass have done in-house. This album features world premiere performances as well as some greatest hits from the past decade. The rhythm section has been an integral part of this effort, and is featured prominently throughout the project. The last 10 years have been a fruitful musical journey for Off Bass Brass, and Tubacus Galacticus is the embodiment of that journey.
Here’s more information about each track from the liner notes:
Cellar Dweller was commissioned by Off Bass Brass in 2011 and premiered at the 2012 U.S. Army Band Tuba Euphonium Workshop. It is a funk tune for quartet with combo that kicks off with solo tuba laying down the basic groove. As the rest of the group joins, the underlying rhythm gets increasingly complex. During the lead euphonium solo, Ryan used a digital harmonizer for some added variety. We felt this tune was a great choice to get the album rolling right out of the chute; fun and funky!
Hank Levy, Arr. Ryan McGeorge
Originally composed for big band, this was the first piece of Hank Levy’s to ever be recorded by the famous Stan Kenton Band. It appears on their “LIVE at the Redlands” record, and presumably as a result of that recording, became one of Mr. Levy’s most famous works. It is a bossa-nova in 5/4 time that develops into a 5/4 double time rock feel. This arrangement was the first in house arrangement written for Off Bass Brass, and stays very true to the brilliant original.
music by Leslie Bircusse, Original Lyrics by Anthony Newley, Arr. Ryan McGeorge
Originally written by Oscar and Tony award-winning composer Leslie Bircusse and lyricist Anthony Newly for the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Pure Imagination has become one of the most recognizable and beloved songs ever written for the cinema. In the four decades since the movie’s release, the song has been arranged and performed countless times by other groups and solo artists from punk bands like the Smoking Popes to jazz icons such as Sammy Davis, Jr. This beautiful new arrangement by Ryan McGeorge was written as a piano feature to highlight the virtuosic lyricism of the group’s pianist AnnaMaria Mottola.
Bill Laurence, Arr. Ryan McGeorge
Written in 2004, 34 Klezma was written for the composer’s own group called The Klezma Trip. It was later adapted by Snarky Puppy as a key track on their 2008 debut album Bring Us the Bright. Though the original recording is a very relaxed, ambient rendition, the Snarky Puppy interpretation is more driving and energetic. Based on the “Jewish” Phrygian Dominant scale, it has a Klezmer flavor matched with a modern driving 34 rock groove. The Off Bass Brass interpretation is a tribute to Snarky Puppy with open solos, guest auxiliary percussion by Chris Rose, and a face melting Euphonium battle.
This is Ryan McGeorge’s first original composition for Tuba/Euphonium Quartet and Drum Set. Motives are derived from a rock and jazz influences, showing techniques like pitch bends, and utilizing an extended range not commonly expected of low brass instruments. Being very groove driven, Tubacus Galacticus is as much an intricate drum feature as it is a brass feature. Ryan’s biggest hope is that one day it will be performed by a tuba/euphonium quartet somewhere in deep space…
Freddie Mercury, Trans. Ryan McGeorge
Bicycle Race was recorded and released in 1978 by the British rock band Queen on their album entitled Jazz. The song was inspired by the 1978 Tour de France, when the race passed Mountain Studios in Montreux, where the band was coincidently recording the album. Bicycle Race has a unique chord progression with numerous modulations, meter, and tempo changes. This transcription is a bold and playful tribute to the original.
“Bach 147” is the final movement from a three-movement work for tuba quartet and jazz combo originally commissioned by Off Bass Brass in 2012. The piece gets its title from the famous chorale in the final movement of the Cantata BWV 147 composed by Johann Sebastian Bach in 1719 and 1723. The chorale is often referred to by its well-known English title, Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring. Szentpali chose the well-known melody as the basis for the piece, but framed the music in competing styles that at moments sound traditional, then hint at more modern pop and jazz influences. Throughout the horn writing, Szentpali makes use of idiomatic rhythms and harmonies taken from Spanish flamenco music, giving the music an aggressive counterpoint to the rolling Bach chorale melody. This recording by the Off Bass Brass is the world premiere of this piece.
Svenska Flika is an original piece for Tuba Quartet and rhythm section, written for the 1978 Scandinavian Brass Symposium in Stockholm, Sweden. The group for which this piece was written consisted of Rich Matteson and Torolf Molgard on Euphoniums, with Harvey Phillips and Michael Lind on Tubas. The title translation means “Swedish Girl,” and it’s a jazz-rock variation on a 12 bar blues with open improvised solos.
Dashboard Faces Arranged by Tom Holtz
Mark Jenkins, Euphonium
Ryan McGeorge, Euphonium
John Cradler, F Tuba
Tom Holtz, Eb Tuba
AnnaMaria Mottola, Piano/Keyboards
Eric Sabo, Electric Bass
Mike Metzger, Drums
Chris Rose, Auxiliary Percussion on 34 Klezma
Producer, Peter Folliard
Post Production Engineering and Artistry, Mike Metzger
Tracking Engineer, Steve Milner
Mastered by Mike Monseur at Bias Studios
Recorded at Bias Studios, Springfield VA, March 9-11, 2014
Artwork, Cathy Metzger
Candis Threlkeld and the Miller Reporting Group for making 2 commissions and this recording possible. Mike Metzger for countless hours of Pro Tools magic. Brian Davis and Mikki Matteson for parts to Svenska Flika. Cathy Metzger for the awesome artwork. Natalie Cradler for the use of her bicycle bell. All our families, friends, and past teachers for your amazing support!