Saturday, August 20, 2016

Dallas Wind Symphony to release album #16, Music of John Williams.

The Dallas Winds recently recorded our sixteenth album with Reference Recordings. It is a cross section of John Williams’ music from the movies, and we were told the arrangements were authorized by John Williams’ office which is very involved in this long-term recording project. Reference Recordings said this album will be released in the spring of 2017.

In this music every aspect of playing was challenged. “The Imperial March” and “The March from Superman” are from two of Williams’ oldest scores from the 1970’s, written for an orchestra with a full section of string basses. Basses have no problem playing those low articulated pedal point parts for page after page but on tuba it can become an athletic assignment.

The 844 responds so well in the low register that three pages of that repeated pattern isn’t the workout I expected. Trying to be heard over timpani is never fun but all I had to do was fill up with air and go. The color of the BMB tuba was up to the task.

The “Suite from JFK” (I’m not sure of the title will be, the suite was just completed) was a challenge for a different reason. While there were a lot of parts that were obviously string bass sustaining parts, the section of the suite representing the three fatal gunshots required an almost visceral performance. The notes had to be short but there also had to be substance in the sound. This tuba had it!

“Jedi Steps and Finale” from The Force Awakens had a menacing melodic motive. Scored just below the staff, I relied on the efficiency of the horn and the color of the 844’s sound to stand out from the low woodwinds without having to overbalance them.

On the other side of the spectrum, the music from the movie Lincoln, “With Malice Toward None,” was a huge challenge. Chris Martin of the Chicago Symphony & the New York Philharmonic played the solo for the movie and he was brought in to play it with us on the recording. The tuba part required the very softest attacks in the low register, extremely exposed.

There were also two sections that seemed to be tuba and solo trumpet duets. Playing in the same group with Chris Martin is intimidating, playing alone with him requires an instrument with consistent response and intonation so you can think about the music and not the tuba. I was happy to have BMB’s J-844 in my hands for that situation.

The technical challenges showed up in spades during the “Scherzo for X-Wings” from The Force Awakens. Thank the arranger for having the great idea to score tubas with the woodwind section on a musical line that moves like leaves in the wind. Just when you start to settle in, the line skips an octave… and then jumps back down. With a lesser tuba I would have been seriously challenged.

Rapid articulation in the low register was tested to the max by Williams in “The Cowboys.” Maestro Junkin likes fast tempos and he likes them a little faster than most people. That 16th note theme becomes an obstacle if your tuba has any response problems. No worries with J-844.

I’ve had people ask me if a 4 valve tuba is really a professional instrument. I can answer with a resounding yes! I did have to pull slides for one sustained low Db but in a brutal series of recording sessions, I only had to pull slides for low notes for that one note.

No challenge in this music was a problem for an instrument like the 844. Yes, I had to practice but I never had to fight the horn and that’s what we all look for. Don’t let the price fool you, this is one serious tuba.

Alex Cauthen

editor's note: The 845 plays like the 844 because the fifth valve is not in the open horn.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Fifth Valve Tension Strap aka Rubber Band aka Braid Band

After trial and error with different tension straps, players often see the wisdom of my original setup. Two, THREE or four small white rubber bands. There is security in numbers. Should one fail there are two more. They have the preferred tension and response. BTW I tried clock springs and 100 players who tried both preferred the 'tension strap'. So there you have it. Q. But where do you get those little white rubber bands? A. They can be found many places. One of the easiest is horse grooming for braiding mains. Here are a few sources averaging $5 for 500:

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Well...I have now used my 845-16 in two concerts, and I am most happy with my purchase! My first chair alto saxophone player even commented on the difference in the sound just out of the blue. The sound is very clear and focused, the horn has a really nice pop to it, and is comfortable to play. The York was, and is, a great horn, but this one takes less effort to get a better result, especially in the low range. My "west coast" low range, which had all but disappeared for a long time, is well on its way back to normal. Playing is so much fun, I really feel like practicing all the time (I know, right?)-like a good book, it's hard to put down. Thank you for your flexibilty in helping me purchase this tuba. It's a definite advancement for me. You make a terrific product! 7/22/15 Regards, Richard Watson Prof. of Low Brass Valparaiso Univ.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Don Harry

Nice article about Don Harry. I'm please to say he plays the J-445LQ16

Monday, August 11, 2014

Update from Ireland

I had a busy week on the 445 - Mendelssohn Midsummer Night's Dream and Pictures at an Exhibition (Bydlo done by solo euphonium player). Although I primarily use a Perantucci PT50 mouthpiece on the 445, I found it advantageous to switch to a Perantucci PT 72S for the Mendelssohn. This allowed me to blend more transparently into the orchestra and certainly made the higher register all the more accessible. Back on the PT50, Pictures was a joy to play as the 445 responded perfectly to all of the big tuba sections, as well as the colourful solo passages. I used a standard Humes & Berg bass tuba stonelined mute which was perfect for the 445 and required no main slide adjustment whatsoever. My Bydlo-playing euphonium colleague (2nd euph in Grimethorpe Colliery Band) was sat to my left and remarked on the massive sound that the 445 was generating, a true compliment given what he's used to from the GCB bass section! All the best as always & speak soon. Alex Kidston

Saturday, May 10, 2014

BMB J-765 BAT live from Chicago

I’ve been asked a few times if I have demo recordings of BMB tubas. I don’t. And I don’t find demo recordings useful. Jake sounded like Jake no matter what he played. Microphone placement is more important than tube on a recording. I listen to old recordings of me in the quintet and honestly can’t tell if I was playing my 184 Miraphone or my Holton/York 345. Not that the horn doesn’t matter. Just that on a recording, without defining microphone placement, the ears can be deceived. That said, there is a broadcast coming up of the Chicago Symphony. Mr. Pokorny used a BMB J-765 for the Scriabin Divine Poem. Not a piece I knew. I was fortunate to have heard it live in the hall. It is a real showpiece for the tuba from the very beginning. This is Chicago live so microphone placement is what hangs in the hall every day. And it is in context with the rest of the orchestra without unusually highlighting any instrument. If it is anything close to what I heard in the hall, you are in for a treat. It should be a great example of what the BMB BAT sounds like in the hands of a great player. May 25, 2014 Muti and Izotov: the Martinů Oboe Concerto Riccardo Muti, conductor Eugene Izotov, oboe Haydn: Symphony No. 48 in C Major, Maria Theresa Martinů: Oboe Concerto Scriabin: The Divine Poem Tune in for a treat:,11,3,1 To be clear, Gene does not endorse BMB or any other tuba. He primarily uses the York tuba that the orchestra owns. He has on occasion used a BMB tuba because it fit the needs of the situation, piece, or conductor. This is one example of which I am aware and am pleased to alert you to it.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


The J-445LQ16 offers a little crisper sound and fits in a smaller case. Don Harry has been testing it out. Thanks, Don, for all your input. I have added it to the catalog and expect to have inventory later this year.