Why attempt playing the famous Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio on the tuba? To quote the often-repeated phrase by George Mallory when asked why he was the first to attempt a climb of Mount Everest: “Because it’s there.” Serious solo literature has only been available for the tuba since the 1950s, when composers including Paul Hindemith and Ralph Vaughan Williams began writing for the instrument.
Given that relatively short amount of time, tubists are often forced to borrow from the works of other instruments if they want to enjoy the style of a given composer who never got around to writing for the tuba, such as Claude Bolling, or who were, sadly, already dead before the tuba was even invented. The attempt here, with modesty, is to show that the tuba is capable of being an agile solo instrument that can handle the same complexity of repertory created for any other instrument.
Claude Bolling’s Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio was written in 1973 for Jean-Pierre Rampal, a noted classical flutist of the day. Rampal and Bolling later recorded the work, and that recording spent almost two years at the top of the Billboard classical chart, where it continued to hold a successful place in the top 100 for over 10 years. The recording also won the 1975 Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance.
Cloud Bowling (2021) was composed for Jim Shearer, to be premiered alongside Claude Bolling’s Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio, rearranged for tuba. Taking inspiration from Bolling’s suite, Cloud Bowling is comprised of seven movements that blend jazz and classical styles and performance practices. The composition contains references to seminal jazz composers, along with a more progressive compositional approach offering ample amounts of space for improvisation. – www.tubashow.us
I’ve wanted to perform and record Claude Bolling’s Flute Suite, played on tuba, of course, since my college days in the early 1980s. I’ve been working on it off and on for over thirty years. During COVID, I had the time to fully commit to woodshedding the music, and I found myself with access to an amazing jazz trio from the faculty at the University of Texas-El Paso. The deal from the piano player, Chris Reyman, was that he would only go to the trouble to relearn the Claude Bolling piano part (difficult reading for the pianist in some places) if I’d let him write a new companion seven-movement suite that delved much deeper into a wide variety of jazz styles. That work become the second suite on the two-CD set, titled Cloud Bowling. Of course, I was all in! Now that the CDs are released and streaming everywhere, we’re working on a series of live concerts to support the project. Beyond promoting this new CD, I’m back to playing classical chamber music and orchestral concerts, along with jazz concerts whenever I can get them booked. Jazz in New Mexico is not like living in a big city where gigs are plentiful. We really have to fight for regular bookings these days without going out on the road where jazz is more readily accepted. The players on this new recording are fantastic colleagues at the University of Texas – El Paso, just a few miles down the road from where I teach at New Mexico State University. I’ve played gigs with them in various settings for several years now, and the bass player, Erik Unsworth, I’ve worked with for almost 20 years. We’re just great friends making music for the sole reason that it’s something we want to do. We’re never going to get rich playing this kind of music, but it sure is fun! And, coming from the world of academia, these recordings and performance projects count toward the promotion and tenure process. My recordings, just like writing books and articles in other academic disciplines, are considered my international publications and scholarly pursuits,- an interview with me said Jim Shearer.
We consistently recommend that you definitely own this CD and enjoy it.
SPECIAL 2-CD SET
DISC 1: Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio (Performed on Tuba)
1 Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio: 1. Baroque and Blue
2 Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio: 2. Sentimentale
3 Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio: 3. Javanaise
4 Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio: 4. Fugace
5 Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio: 5. Irlandaise
6 Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio: 6. Versatile
7 Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio: 7. Veloce
DISC 2: Cloud Bowling (Suite for Tuba and Jazz Trio)
1 Cloud Bowling (Suite for Tuba and Jazz Trio): 1. The Opener
2 Cloud Bowling (Suite for Tuba and Jazz Trio): 2. Ellingtonian
3 Cloud Bowling (Suite for Tuba and Jazz Trio): 3. Brubesque
4 Cloud Bowling (Suite for Tuba and Jazz Trio): 4. Double Ones
5 Cloud Bowling (Suite for Tuba and Jazz Trio): 5. Borrowed Time
6 Cloud Bowling (Suite for Tuba and Jazz Trio): 6. Overshadowed
7 Cloud Bowling (Suite for Tuba and Jazz Trio): 7. The Closer
Jim Shearer, tuba
Chris Reyman, piano
Erik Unsworth, bass
Andy Smith, drums