Reviews - CDs and DVDs

Joe Cook Debut 2 (Eb Tuba)

Joe Cook Debut 2 0001

Joe Cook Debut 2  (Eb Tuba)

Manger Musikklag

Conductor: Alan Withington

Doyen Recording DOY374 




   This is not ‘another tuba solo album’. This is ‘the’ tuba solo album. Well that’s what I think. I have been lucky to have reviewed several similar CDs from star tuba players and they have been excellent, if sometimes a bit ‘educational’ but this sets a whole new standard. Joe manages, not surprisingly, to present a sound and tone throughout the whole range (and the range on this is stunning) and dynamic. The programme is varied and so entertaining.

   There are nine works featured and feature three World Premieres (as recordings).

   The disc opens with On The Run by Fredrick Schjelderup who wrote the piece especially for this recording. The piece has varied moods and only a few will conquer it’s technical challenges. As with all of the brass band accompanied pieces on this disc Alan Withington and Manger Musikklag are impeccable.

   A Tuba Quartet - Suite in Blue by the late Roger Payne is described as ‘a suite in three shades’ and is performed beautifully by Joe and his three companions. I was surprised to read that the piece is actually over 40 years old, having been written for the bass section of the William Davis Construction Band. It is so fresh and great music.

   The jazz classic Nature Boy (Nat King Cole, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra and Lady Ga Ga) is, on first look at the excellent programme notes, a bit out of place on this disc. It isn’t, it flows beautifully and is arranged for band by Manger horn player Tina Kvamme – nice choice.

   Variations on a Hungarian Children Song is technically brilliant and Joe hits the ‘sweet spot’ of tuba playing here. The colours he manages to bring out are brilliant (have I used that adjective before on this CD? There is more to come). Very enjoyable.

   Lights on the Tyne was composed for this album by Simon Oliver and is the result of Joe and Simon chatting over their mutual love of Blues and Ballads. Manger are again just brilliant as they accompany Joe here. This is a nice trip around the River Tyne. 

   The Grumpy Troll by Michael Forbes is just about the most descriptive piece there could be! My vision of the mythical character is matched by the awesome and varied playing. Unaccompanied tuba with all the technical bells and whistles.

   Quiet Place is a brass quintet played by two euphoniums, two baritones and Joe on tuba. Originally an acapella song for six voices? Very clever and such a good listen.

   Although the album was released only recently, it is fitting that the next piece – Tuba Concerto No 2 is a fitting tribute to the recently deceased Derek Bourgeois. I cannot stop pressing the repeat button to listen to this masterpiece enough. Three massive movements of MUSIC. A ‘must listen’. Joe is magnificent and captures all of the moods of the master’s writing.

   And now for something completely different, as the saying goes. The Dancing King by Jesse Ayers uses a backing track of tuned percussion, piano and a synthesized bass. Sounds amazing! The piece has it’s inspiration in ancient history – although it doesn’t sound ‘ancient!’.

   Excellent programme notes, well-engineered, brilliantly accompanied by all and simply the best tuba solo disc I have ever heard – stunning Joe.

   This is not just a CD for tuba lovers, I think this will appeal to many


1. On the Run - Frederick Schjelderup - World Premier Recording

2 -4.Suite in Blue - Roger Payne

  • i) March Two Step
  • ii) Meander
  • iii) Danse Triste

Tuba Quartet: Joseph Cook, Vegard Aagaard-Nilson, Sondre Johan Chesney Kvamme and  Kristian Grotle

5. Nature Boy - Ahbez Arr: Tina Kvamme

6. Variations on a Hungarian Children's Song - Roland Szentpali

7. Lights on the Tyne - Simon Oliver - World Premier Recording - *

8. The Grumpy Troll - Mike Forbes

9. Quiet Place - Take 6 Arr: Gail A. Robertson

Low brass quintet: Joseph Cook, Johannes Forsberg, Kjetil Raknerud, Margie Antrobus and Trine Villanger.

10-12. Tuba Concerto No. 2 - Derek Bourgeois - World Premier Recording

i) Andante Moderato

ii) Adagio

iii) Allegro

13. The Dancing King - Jessie Ayers

(*) Commissioned by Joseph Cook for this recording

Thank you ...Gordon Eddison