The idea for these duets came from programming a duet recital with my colleague and dear friend, Dr. Joanna Hersey, Associate Professor of Low Brass at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. She had several new arrangements for us to perform, and she had set them specifically to be rehearsed and performed by her students. She suggested I write something jazzy for us to play that her students could also work on in lessons. What started out as a quick dose of pseudo-dixieland turned into something quite different.
“Tango” is built on a straight-eighth-note groove. It’s meant to be danceable without being too fast or too loud. Players should have fun with the style while being very strict about time and rhythm. “Bolero” challenges players to provide a steady, rhythmic bass line in the often unwieldy lower registers of the horn, and long, lyrical melodies in the upper register. “Jam” is all about having fun. It is built around basic harmonic and rhythmic patterns, and is meant to be played aggressively. My hope is that players build necessary skills while preparing these duets, and get a hefty round of applause for their efforts at the performance.
Thanks go to Walter Sear (1930-2010), whose books of tuba duets form a cornerstone of low brass chamber repertoire. Thanks also to my colleagues in “The President’s Own”, Chris Tiedeman and Paul Mergen, who often reminded me of how much fun duets can be every time they pulled out their well-loved, dog-eared copy of the Sear book. This work is dedicated to Dr. Joanna Hersey and her studio at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke for their inspiration, dedication, and spirit. My sincere thanks to all of you for making this project a reality.