Vol. 1, No. 15

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| Contrabass-L: a list for discussion of contrabass *anything*|
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Vol. 1, No. 15 9 July 1996

Sale Update:

Lyn Marcus faxed me a list of the other instruments available from his father's estate yesterday. There is some interesting stuff there! Lyn also said that it's OK to post his telephone number, so anyone can call him directly: 310-763-6697. This is his office number, and you can usually reach him there between 11 am and 7 pm (Pacific Time).

The more interesting instruments include:
1. an 1890's German flute;
5. a Buffet-Crampon C clarinet (ca 1911);
8. a 1930's taragoto;
9. a 1925 Eb sopranino sax, by Conn;
14. an F-mezzosoprano sax by Conn;
15. a Conn 10M tenor sax;
18. a Selmer Paris contralto clarinet;
19-21. Bb soprano, Eb alto, and C tenor rothophones;
22. Eb alto sarrusophone, Gautrot Marquet;
23. Eb baritone sarrusophone, Evette & Schaeffer;
26. EEb bass sarrusophone, probably Conn;
30. an 1840's German bassoon;
36. a Heckel 411 bassoon, 1937;
37. a Heckel 43d contrabassoon, ca 1950;
41. a Getzen slide trumpet, ca. 1965;
43. a German bass valve trombone, (20th century);
49. an alto valve trombone, J.W. York & Sons, ca 1895;
52. an Eb helicon by Brua Keefer Co., ca 1918; and
54. a BBb tuba by Conn, c. 1918.

The numbers along the left refer to the inventory numbers for each instrument: if you're going to call Lyn about a horn, it's much faster if you can give him the number for the particular horn you're interested in. I have price info on a few of the horns I found particularly interesting, but I won't be buying anymore anytime soon, so don't feel inhibited on my account ;-) The things I've left out are more common instruments like Buescher alto saxes and German flugelhorns, and two C soprano saxophones.

Also on the list, but no longer available, was a "jazzophon in Bb" by the E.A. Wunderlich Co., Siebenbrunn, c. 1930. I've never heard of one before. Lyn said it was a brass instrument shaped like a tenor sax with two bells and a trumpet mouthpiece. Anyone else ever hear of such a beast?


From: Francis Firth

Subject: Discography for Contrabass-l

Date: 26 June 1996 10:39


Here is an updated contribution to the discography. In places you will see that some details are missing. You probably have the information to check some of them (Braxton, Tebackin, Winter,etc.)

I have included some annotation.



(LP probably re-issued on CD)

Includes Gordon Jacob: Variations on Annie Laurie for 2 piccolos, hurdy-gurdy, harmonium, 2 contrabassoons, 2 contrabass clarinets, subcontrabss tuba, contrabass serpent, heckelphone

There are no real solos for the above contrabass instruments but the Heckelphone has a long solo in one variation. A virtuoso piece of orchestration written in response to Hoffnung's challenge (Jacob had written a well known book on orchestration).

  1. Subbass in C (Quart Bass):
    David Bellugi and the Chianti classical orchestra on FRAME CD The CD includes the Luciani Concerto for recorders which uses various sizes of recorder including subbass with several solos for this instrument played audibly in a 'straight' style but a modern idiom.
  2. Bass in F, Subbass in C and Contrabass in F:
    played by G. Braun, Dieter Haag & Annette Strich. Hans-Joachim Hespos: Ilomba played by Blockfloetenensemble Gerhard Braun on Thorofon capella MTH 254? (LP). Avant-Garde techniques dominate the piece - breathing sounds, hole tapping, extreme registers, some multiphonics, but it is possible to hear the typical sounds of the instruments. A most interesting LP but, unfortunately, not scheduled for re-issue on CD.
  3. Subbass in F
    Three Centuries of World Music for Recorders. - FRAME CD David Bellugi uses the Subbass on several tracks with other recordersincluding a recorder version of Leo Brouwer's Paisaje Cubana. Really good recorder playing in an unexpected repertoire. the doubled overdubbed bass instruments sound great.
  4. Low recorders are often used in the 8 foot consort by the Amsterdam Loeki Stardust Recorder Quartet on CDs such as A Concorde of Sweet Sounds (L'Oiseau Lyre - CD), Anthony Holborne: Image of melancholy (CD), Pictured Air (Modern Recorder Quartets) (CD)
  1. Hamiett Bluiett: Sankofa/Rear Garde. - Black Saint (CD) 2 tracks for contralto, 1 unaccompanied. The style is modern jazz but the playing is 'straight' with no extended techniques. The contralto clarinet is very clear.
  2. Music for Low Clarinets played by Julian Spear, (withSharon Davis, piano.) .- (WIM Records WIMR-10 - LP). William Schmidt: Sonatina for Contrabass Clarinet & Piano played by Julian Spear and Sharon Davis - this is probably played on a Selmer straight contralto (based on the LP sleeve picture). Three Blake songs for Soprano and Clarinet (a different clarinet for each song - alto, bass & contrabass). These pieces are modern but accessible. No avant-garde techniques used on these pieces although there is also a bass clarinet piece on the LP which uses them extensively. The instruments may be heard clearly.
  1. Richard Teitelbaum with Anthony Braxton: Time Zones.- Arista Records AL 1037 -LP. Includes Behemoth Dreams on side 2 for Contrabass & synthesizer). Jazz/classical synthesis.Not as avant-garde in playing technique as many Braxton and the contrabass clarinet is clearly audible when playing. Shows off the sound of the instrument very well.)
  2. Donald Martino: Triple Concerto for Clarinet, Bass Clarinet and Contrabass Clarinet, Nonesuch (LP). A modern classic and there is plenty of contrabass writing. Martino states that he used the 3 sizes of clarinet as a kind of Superclarinet. The style is very modern but not avant-garde and there are no extended playing techniques. It is apparently a virtuoso piece. Play it if you dare was the message on the Klarinet e-mail list.
  3. Modern Music by Swiss Composers. -Jecklin szene sCHweiz JS 296-2 (CD). This includes Rudolf Kelterborn: Duett fuer Bratsche und Kontrabassklarinette played by Elver Schmiel & Christoph Schiller. Many avant-garde techniques used - multiphonics, extended high register, etc. The contrabass clarinet is not always as loud as the viola but can generally be heard well enough. There is also an interesting composition on this disc for soprano and basset horn.
  4. Marc Monnet: Pieces Celibitaires. - Disques Montaignes 782068 (CD). Includes Le Cirque for unaccompanied contrabass clarinet played by Armand Angster. There is relatively little traditional playing in this piece and a lot of tongue slapping on the reed.
  5. Anthony Braxton: Complete Anthony Braxton, 1971.-Arista 0798 (2 LPs) includes a track for unaccompanied contrabass clarinet. The style is avant-garde Jazz. Some 'straight' playing but much avant-garde - split-notes, high-pitched squeaks, etc. Various other Anthony Braxton recordings also use contrabass clarinet in quartet and other groupings.
  1. Anthony Braxton & Muhal Richard Abrams: Duets. Arista AL 4101(LP probably reissued on CD). Cut 3 on side 1 is a duet for contrabass saxophone and piano. The playing is fairly 'straight' jazz playing. The contrabass saxophone is generally clear but sometimes overwhelmed by the piano. Sometimes one has the impression that Braxton has not entirely mastered the instrument.
  2. Anthony Braxton & George Lewis: Donaueschingen (1982?). The track 73° kelvin has an extended duo for contrabass saxophone and trombone). Hat Art (CD) There is a long extended exchange for the trombone and contrabass saxophone in an often witty avant-garde style with some extended playing techniques on both instruments.
  3. Daniel Kientzy: Saxophone(s) solo. - Poly-Art records PAR 5303(LP). Includes Francois Rosse: Sonate en arcs for unaccompanied contrabass saxophone played alternately with soprano and alto saxophone played simultaneously. A CD of modern and avant-garde unaccompanied saxophone music including pieces by Jolas, Berio and Mefano. The Rosse piece has several stretches of clear contrabass in a 'straight' stylebut it is over a limited pitch range. Kientzy also premiered the contrabass saxophone version of Hans-Joachim Hespos's Pico, which uses many extended techniques and is a substantial piece, at the Darmstadt Summer FerienKurse in 1984?.
  4. Nuclear Whales Saxophone Orchestra: Thar They Blow Whaleco. Music WM 102 CD & Gone Fission Whaleco Music WM 103 CD. Sax ensemble (basically a sextet with 'guests') with some prominent contrabass sax. They play generally in a light jazz style, sometimes jokey, but play arrangements of nearly anything including consort music by William Lawes. In several pieces the contrabass saxophone is prominent adding a great swinging bass line.
  1. Hindemith : Trio for Heckelphone, Viola and Piano. (various recordings 1 on LP - Wergo, 2 on CD - 1 on MDG, 1 on Capriccio)
  2. Paul Winter uses Heckelphone and gives it an extended solo on his album?; Track? (CD)
  1. London Philharmonic Celebrates American Composers. Leonarda LE331 (CD). This includes Donald Erb: Concerto for Contrabassoon and Orchestra played by Greg Heneggar and conducted by Harold Farberman. The piece is modern and technically difficult bjt heneggar is a virtuoso. Some impressive writing and playing. The contra is generally clearly heard except in 1 or 2 loud passages.
  2. Donald Erb: Chamber Music. - Albany records Troy 092 (CD). This includes 5 Red Hot Duets for 2 Contrabassoons played by Greg Heneggar and Bradford Bentley. These are red hot stuff and highly recommended. Virtuoso writing and playing. Modern with no extended techniques (except for very high register) these are exciting pieces.
  3. The Big Bassoon: Susan Nigro, Contrabassoon, Mark Lindeblad, piano. Crystal records CD346. Includes: Vazgan Muradian: Contrabassoon Concerto; Donald Draganski: Heart's Desire; Alan Palider: The Narwhal; Ralph Nicholson: Miniature Suite; Frank Warren: Music for Contrabassoon and Piano; Matt Doran: Four Movements. This is fantastic contrabassoon playing. Not excessively virtuoso although Ms Nigro has technique to spare the most striking thing is the wonderful warm full tone she gets out of the instrument in all pitch ranges - quite an achievement in itself. The playing is also beautifully and musically phrased almost like a string instrument. The pieces get the most out of the instrument too.
  4. Arthur Grossman plays solo music for the bassoon and contrabassoon. Crystal Records S342 (LP - should be reissued on CD) This includes Irwin Schulhof: Bass Nachtigall for unaccompanied Contrabassoon A very early piece for the contra (the 1st in fact and dating from the 30s?) includes a satiric prologue not recorded here and is a suite like the Bach Cello ones even to the extent of including a Prelude & Fugue! A good piece well played.
  5. Music of Stefan Wolpe & Erwin Schulhof played by Ensemble Aventure. - Ars Musici AM 1071-2 (CD) This includes Bass Nachtigall with its satirical prologue the former well played by Reiner Kugele.
  1. Paul Winter: (CD). The track Blues Cathedral includes a duet for E Flat and C Contrabass Sarrusophones. The solo is at the lower end of both instruments and you really have to turn up the volume to hear them well but the duet is quite long. the music is 'new age' and meditative.
  2. Sextuor de Sarrusophones. - Performance tape from IDRS Frankfurt 1992. They play pieces by Gounod and others specially arranged. The sound is good quality live and the ensemble sounds a bit like a renaissance reed consort.
  3. Clarence Williams Blue Five 1924. Sidney Bechet plays a (famous or notorious - take your pick) solo for Contrabass Sarrusophone in E Flat on the track Mandy Make up your Mind. (various CD reissues of the original 78). Clearly the sound is scratchy and it sounds as though the instrument was a doubling one but it is still an excellent solo and the instrument can be heard clearly above the ensemble.
  1. Piacere Flute Ensemble. - Tokyo City Sounds TSCCD 0029 (CD). This Flute Choir includes Subbass in F, Contrabass in C and Double Contrabass Flute in CC. The pieces are standard arrangements, well played and although the contrabass instruments have no solos they can be heard in the ensemble giving a marvellous weight and depth. Includes J.S. Bach: Toccata and Fugue in D Minor; Bizet: Carmen Suite; Mussorgsky: Pictures from an Exhibition
  2. All about the Flute Orchestra/ JFA (Japan Flute Association). - Adam ACD 0021 (CD) This Flute Choir includes 2 subbass in F and 6 contrabass flues in C. Includes Ryohei Hirose: Blue Train; Marine City; Papillon; Paramita & Kada; Amagoi; Vivaldi: The Seasons (Winter); Dvorak: Slavonic Dance in e minor Op. 72 No. 2. Debussy: Suite; Grigoras Dinicu: Hora Staccato
  3. Joueurs de Flute. - Jecklin CD. This flute choir includes contrabass in C. The programme is a potpourri of popular favourites such a Flight of the Bumble Bee. They play very smoothly.
  4. Pierre-Yves Artaud: Contemporary Flute Neuma 450-77 (CD). Includes Traits Suspendus by Paul Mefano for unaccompanied amplified contrabass (contralto) flute in G; John Cage Ryoanji in a version for Octobass (contrabass in C) flute, pre-recorded octobass flute and percussion. The pieces are pretty avant-garde, the Mefano piece being nearly all multiphonics, breath sounds, etc. but showing off the instrument quite well. The Cage is slow and the pitch range used limited but the instrument comes over very well. Outstanding playing by a very-well know avant-garde virtuoso.
  5. Pierre-Yves Artaud: Contemporary French Flute Music Chant du Monde LDT 78700(LP). Includes Paul Mefano: Traits Suspendus for Amplified unaccompanied Contrabass (Contralto) Flute in G; Paul Mefano Gravidas for the same instrument. The other Mefano piece is not quite so exclusively avant-garde and the instrument may be heard very well. Outstanding playing.
  6. Matthias Ziegler: Marsyas' Song. It is on the Percords label CD 992-002 and is probably available from Top Wind, 2, Lower Marsh, London. Tel.: (0)171 401 8787. On this he plays Contrabass Flute in C among other flutes. The music is avant-garde using many extended playing techniques and is very atmospheric. A soprano joins him for the title track. The contrabass is clearly heard but one could not really gain much idea of its normal sound or range from this CD. However, the playing is brilliant and the CD should not be missed. Ziegler also gives fine perfomrances of Syrinx and a piece by Jolivet on this disc.
  7. European Flute Festival Frankfurt am Main '93. A 2-CD compilation including Michael Heupel playing skb (SubKontrabassFlote) slap on his Sub Contrabass Flute (in G, 2 octaves below the alto flute in G). Jazz style playing live (some audience noise but not intrusive) - imaginative, inventive and fun and what a sound this flute makes! I got this from All Flutes Plus also in London, 5, Dorset Street, London. Tel.: (0)171 935 3339.
    There are also other Cds featuring Michael Heupel playing this instrument:
  8. Uwe Kropinski (Guitars) and Michael Heupel (Flutes): Africa Notebook, AHO CD 1024 Blues/Folk style with imaginative guitar playing and pleasant 'straight' flute playing. 1 track using the subcontrabass flute.
  9. Michael Heupel also plays in Norbert Stein's Pata Music and their 2 latest CDs 9. & 10. PATA CD 9 and PATA CD 8 are Graffiti and Blue Slit. Norbert Stein's PATA Music has an internet home page at: http://www.nettuno.it/ejn/labels/pata.htm The snail mail address is:
    Norbert Stein
    Eiserweg 14 a
    D- 51503 Roesrath
    and his e-mail address is:
  10. Robert Dick/ Third Stone from the Sun. - New World records 80435-2 (CD). The track It's still like it Wouldn't be Yesterday includes a duet passage for 2 contratenor Flutes in F (Contrabass in F) Dick is well know as a jazz and avant-garde classical flautist. This CD is a hommage to Jimi Hendrix and the playing uses many extended techniques as well as straight playing in a Jazz vein. A very good recording.

There is a solo by Phil Teal? on Lew Tabackin/Toshiko Akiyoshi: Tales of a Courtesan: Track: I ain't gonna ask no more. (LP).


Thanks Francis!

I just need to get around to transforming these into web pages. I still have the original drafts, so it might be easier if you just sent "changes" (i.e., not the parts you've sent before). That way I can spot the new material more quickly.


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