Joe Cook

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Joe began playing (euphonium) at St Marys District Band in Sydney in 1961 before moving to Canberra in 1968 where he studied trombone at the Canberra School of Music while playing with the Canberra Symphony Orchestra and Queanbeyan RSL Brass.

Joe won the Australian Solo Championship at Wagga in 1977 and joined the Australian Army Band Corps with a posting to the Royal Military College Band, Duntroon. In 1983 he was posted to Melbourne as an instructor at the Defence Force School of Music and joined Hawthorn City Band, playing in many A grade winning performances as well as winning the 1985 Australian Champion of Champions title. In the same year he won the Ern Keller International Soloist of the Year title for the first of three times.

In 1986 he was posted to Perth as a sergeant with the Fifth Military District Band and also played with Perth City Band and various orchestras including the WA Symphony Orchestra and with various jazz groups. In 1988 he was posted back to Melbourne where he attended the Defence Force School of Music’s Band Officer Course (which included studies in composition, arranging, conducting and band management) and graduated in 1989 as a Commissioned Officer and was awarded the Graduate Diploma of Applied Music.

Joe retired from the Australian Army Band Corps in 2000 after 23 years service (which included six years as Music Director of the Australian Army Band Tasmania) and has settled permanently in Tasmania.

He is presently freelancing as a performer (trombone, euphonium and tuba), instrumental teacher, composer/arranger and has performed with the Melbourne and Tasmania Symphony Orchestras. He is in demand as an adjudicator within the Australian Band movement as well as Tasmanian eisteddfod competitions including Devonport and Clarence.

He also plays regularly with a variety of community groups such as Derwent Valley Concert Band, Glenorchy City Concert Brass, Low Key Brass Tuba Ensemble and the University of Tasmania Wind Orchestra and also conducts the Huon Valley Concert Band and at the Island Brass Academy in Hobart.

Joe continues to be active in the Australian band contest arena, regularly competing at the highest level with Glenorchy City Concert Brass as well as assisting Footscray-Yarraville City Band and Darebin Brass Preston Band. He still competes regularly in solo competitions and this year will compete in the Melbourne International Brass Festival Barry Tuckwell Brass Prize as well as state and national solo championships.

Appraisal of Cerveny CBB-6934PRX Tuba

I took delivery of my Cerveny CBB 6934PRX BBb tuba some seven months ago and now feel that I know it well enough to give my opinion on the instrument in all areas including build, finish, intonation and sound quality.

The tuba is a four valve rotary, lacquered brass finish with many nickel silver fittings and with a bore of 21.2 mm and 500 mm (19.7 inch) bell size. It is a compact tuba for it’s large bore size, weighing in at just over 10 kg and 950 mm (37.4 inch) length. It’s compactness is one of the attractive things about the model – it is not as bulky or unwieldy as some other full size BBb tubas and with a snug fitting gigbag is no trouble to fit in the back seat of the car. The hardcase provided is top quality, affording excellent protection for airline purposes and has wheels and folding handle as found in the very best hardcases. The case, at 1.2 metres, is considerably longer than the tuba but as it is thickly padded at both bell and bow end, the tuba should survive the roughest treatment from baggage handlers dent-free.

The finish is very pleasing with a nice balance of polished brass and nickel silver fittings. The quality of finish is high and everything works very well, particularly the very silent operating rotaries with Miniball linkages which are as good as anything available on any level of professional tuba. The slides are well aligned and operate easily and smoothly for fine tuning while playing.

My first impressions of the playing characteristics were that it was very free blowing in all registers particularly in the high register and is probably the best high register of any large BBb tuba I have played, which includes Yamaha, Besson Sovereign and St Petersburg.

After sorting out the optimum valve fingerings it is now providing wellcentred notes in all registers (including low
E flat and D) and with minimal use of slide manipulation required (generally the first valve slide). Some alternate fingerings are required (such as 3rd valve for low Gs and Ds and 2/3rd for middle B flat. Upper register (middle B flat up) is extremely well in tune and is very useful for such a large tuba. The slow movement of the Vaughan Williams Concerto is a good test of a tuba’s high register and it was a joy to play on this tuba.

I’ve used it in orchestral situations, where it is excellent for works requiring a large sound with a lot of low register work and in brass band on BBb parts where it is perfect as it has a much fatter sound than the Besson or Yamaha equivalents.

The main drawback I suppose is the different feel of the rotary valve operation, which sometimes takes some extra concentration and delicate air control to achieve clean note changes. In fast moving semiquaver passages it is probably not quite as easy to achieve perfectly clean changes as with piston operated instruments but this can be overcome to a degree with improved air support techniques. These drawbacks are very much offset by the quality of the sound possible on this tuba.

I’m very pleased with the tuba so far and have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone who is looking for a large bore BBb tuba for band or orchestra at a very reasonable price.