Reviews for Rainbo-bo ~ The Man with the Golden Tuba

CD recording featuring Roger Bobo, tuba.
Crystal Records 28818 NE Hancock Road, Camas, WA 98607. (360) 834-9680 CD398 UPC 00941473982- $16.95

Review by Mark Nelson, ITEA Journal, Fall 2007

Roger Bobo's latest CD recording is a compilation of three different LP recordings, apparently without any additional editing or re-mixing, that he made in the years 1978-1981. The original recordings included LP numbers S126, S398 and S392, all out of print. The five compositions represented on this new recording are from the Air from Suite No. 3 by Bach played on a B-flat tenor tuba with Zita Carno, piano; Stänchen (Serenade) by Franz Schubert played on an F tuba with Zita Carno on piano; Meyer Kupferman's Saternalis for tuba and amplified cello featuring Daniel Rothmuller on cello; Morton Subotnik's The First Dream of Light for tuba, piano and “ghost” score with Ralph Grierson, piano; and the Encore: Boz by Thomas Stevens for unaccompanied tuba, all presumably played on the CC contrabass tuba.

That Roger Bobo is a remarkable tubist and musician is of course, a huge understatement. He sings with the euphonium, dances with the F tuba, and positively blows away the audience with his CC contrabass tuba playing. This is vintage Bobo at his best: confident, lyrical, possessing an amazing vibrato, and capable of almost superhuman and nearly bombastic feats of dynamic range and register. The Air is quite amazing with his emphasis on lyrical and expressive playing that is second to none in the euphonium world! As well, the Schubert Ständchen is simply a joy to listen to for the sheer genius of Schubert's music. My favorite piece on the CD is Saternalis, a work that deserves many more performances and is available from Soundspells Productions. The amplified cello is balanced very ell against the tuba, and the interplays and virtuosic ensemble playing by both musicians is simply amazing. We need to explore more combinations of using tuba with string instruments as that part of our repertoire is still quite small. (Special thanks go to Sonny Ausman, recording engineer for all of these original LP recordings, and to Ralph Sauer for being the Tonmeister for the Bach and Schubert pieces). The Subotnick piece is quite intriguing with the “ghost” score of a tape with recorded information that triggers electronic equipment that modifies the sound of the piano and tuba and occasional vocals. Indeed, I thought that that much of the first half was all about variations on impossible tremolos!

Of course, the final work, Encore: Boz, written for Bobo by his long time friend and Principal Trumpet of the L.A. Philharmonic, Thomas Stevens, is the perfect ending, right down to the final sound of the stage door slamming shut as Bob exits after playing the last note!

What is simply stunning to me is that I listened to this CD non-stop with my Bose surround stereo system at home and again in my car, and I could wear I was in the room with Roger and his colleagues. The sound was that clear, which is saying something about the care Crystal Records took with the conversion to CD from the LP master tapes.

Crystal Records is to be congratulated for reissuing more of the Roger Bobo recording library, which already includes releases such as CD125, a compilation of selections from LP S125 Roger Bobo, Tuba, Plays... and LP S392 RogerBOBOtuba, and CD 396, a re-release of LP S396 Gravity is Light Today. I am somewhat disappointed at the total timing of this CD as there would have been more room to put more works on the CD from other early LP recordings. Perhaps Crystal is planning another compilation disc in the future. As our solo recordings for our instruments continue to mature, it is right that steps are taken to protect our legacies with re-releases of earlier recordings onto a more stable medium that is more durable than the L libraries of yesteryear. For a generation of tubists like myself who were privileged to have studied with Roger Bobo during the time these recordings were being made and who also listened to all of his LP recordings until they literally ore out, this new compilation is just the ticket to rediscover there wonderful works that helped define our repertoire.

- Mark Nelson, Pima Community College

Review by Jerry A. Young, The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

Several years ago the entire music world was saddened to learn that Maestro Roger Bobo was announcing that he was leaving the performance stage. His illustrious career as a soloist, orchestral tubist, and chamber musician had far-reaching impact on several generations of musicians. To say that his approach to musical performance influenced only tuba players could be too limiting. Fortunately, Maestro Bobo has continued to keep an energetic schedule as a teacher, master clinician and conductor, so his influence continues to reach far and wide. Having said all that, we all thought that we had said goodbye to new recordings from this master performer, but thanks to Peter Christ and Crystal Records, there is one more in store.

“Rainbo-bo” consists of the only remaining recorded performances by Roger Bobo that had not until this point been re-released on compact disc. In other words, the performances on this disc aren’t “new” performances, however they are the same great performances that those of us “of certain (younger) age” have not had the opportunity to experience. Congratulations to Peter Christ for his continuing attention to the historical and artistic importance of these performances and for making them available to a new generation and more easily accessible to everyone.

There are five works (a total of 46 minutes of music) represented on this recording. They are J.S. Bach’s “Air from Suite No. 3” (Air on the G String)., Franz Schubert’s “Ständchen”, Meyer Kupferman’s “Saturnalis,” (for tuba and amplified cello, Morton Subotnick’s”The First Dream of Light”, and Thomas Stevens’ “Encore:B?z.” The Bach “Air” gives the listener the rare opportunity to hear Bobo perform on what is  classic-beautiful sound and vibrato worthy of the best euphoniumists and all-Bobo relative to a very tasteful interpretation. The Schubert (performed on F tuba) defines instrumental interpretation of vocal works with singing tone and phrasing that would be the envy of any vocal artist. The Kupferman and Subotnick works were landmark compositions at the time they were written for Mr. Bobo, and these recordings caused quite a stir when they were originally released. The obvious care and attention to detail in the preparation and recording of these works caused this reviewer (at that time a young professional) to re-evaluate his approach to preparation and performance of music using extended techniques. They are just as instructive today as they were some 30 years ago. The liner notes remind the listener that Encore: B?z was written as a parody of “Utter Chaos,” used to close the Gerry Mulligan Quartet’s performances. Although it's more important to have this sonic representation of the man for who it was written playing it. In addition to Mr. Bobo’s performances, his partners on these works, Zita Carno and Ralph Grierson on piano and Danial Rothmuller on cello, all turn in performances that match his artistry.

For the generation of the 1990s and later, you must have this recording to complete your Bobo collection. For the rest of you, your turntable may not last forever or cartridges may become hard to fin! Get your copy of this historic CD and thereby say “thank you” again to Roger Bobo for his his contributions to music and to Crystal Records for their faithful and continuing work to bring quality wind solo and chamber music to us all.

- Jerry A. Young, The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

Copyright 2006 ROGERBOBO,COM