The latest compact disc recording by the Tennessee Tech Tuba Ensemble has the answer. Its title track — Phat Bottom Tubas — is an arrangement by George Brozak, a former TTU visiting professor of music, that’s based on the earlier rock ’n’ roll hit.
“It’s obviously a play on words based on the song’s original title, but it’s also an apt description of the deep, lush, round sound of a tuba and euphonium ensemble,” said R. Winston Morris, founder and director of the TTTE.
Recently released by Mark Custom Recording Service Inc., Phat Bottom Tubas is the 19th studio recording by the Tennessee Tech University student ensemble, which is the most recorded group of its kind in history.
The disc also features a dozen other pop, funk and jazz pieces composed or arranged by current and former students Martin McFarlane, Ben McMillan, Josh Rose, Jesse Chavez, Bill Cherry and Jon Oliver, TTU music professor Joshua Hauser and other friends of the TTTE, including Cory Dawson and TTU graduate Glen Martin.
Some of its other well-known selections include Blood, Sweat and Tears’ “Go Down Gamblin’,” and another Queen standard, “Another One Bites the Dust.”
The University of Wisconsin Eau Claire campus’s Jerry Young, in a Fall 2006 review of the CD for the International Tuba/Euphonium Association Journal, said it “makes for an entertaining evening’s listening.”
“The performances are consistently outstanding throughout the recording,” he continued. “Get it, listen to it and be prepared to smile.”
Phat Bottom Tubas is based on a show the TTTE presented in Chattanooga at the Grand National Adjudicators Invitational Festival sponsored by Dixie Classic Festivals of Richmond, Va., and it was made in the tradition of another popular TTTE recording, Play That Funky Tuba Right, Boy!
“To say we had top to bottom fun with this project would be an understatement,” Morris said. “Nothing beats performing for an enthusiastic audience packed with fans and supporters, and that is exactly what our GNAI performance each spring amounts to. That same spirit is captured on this recording.”
In his review of the CD, Young comments on the skill of the solo musicians featured on the disc.
“Believe it or not, almost none of the students — including the ones you hear soloing on this recording — are jazz improvisers,” he said. “They write out and memorize their solos, getting guidance from listening to recordings and advice from TTU faculty.
“As a jazz improviser myself, I can tell you that this is a great bridge to learning, and one that has proven effective for a lot of students in the TTTE over the years,” Young continued. “This recording is a testament to great teaching and allowing students to ‘do.’”
A 40th anniversary celebration of the TTTE is set for November, and as part of the festivities, the ensemble will present an unprecedented seventh show at New York’s famed Carnegie Hall.
Copies of Phat Bottom Tubas are available for $15 each from Mark Records, 10815 Bodine Road, Clarence, N.Y. 14031-0406, by calling 716/759-2600 or by logging on to www.markcustom.com.