All About Jazz

JAZZIZ has called Ralph Hepola “A musician who plays the language of contemporary jazz on the tuba.”

–  Brian Zimmerman, JAZZIZ

JAZZIZ has been called “the voice of a new jazz culture, a culture it helped create,” and over the past 35 years has earned the reputation for its undisputed authority on jazz and style.

Ralph Hepola’s HepTones performs jazz, fusion, blues, ballads and standard songs.

Rocket Science by Ralph Hepola

In the 1970s, musicians started writing and performing a style of music called fusion, which is the fusion of jazz with other styles of music. Many titles of fusion pieces refer to outer space. Keyboardist Chick Corea alone wrote Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy, Space Circus and Shadow of Io (Io is a moon of the planet Jupiter). I really like fusion music and there is hardly any fusion featuring the tuba, so I wrote Rocket Science. Our fabulous keyboardist, Kyle Aho, is playing a 1960s vintage Wurlitzer keyboard; the same model used on many early fusion recordings. A giant among bassists, Bob Bowman, recorded in both Los Angeles and New York City with Freddie Hubbard, Carmen McRae and many others. Our drummer, Marty Morrison, played at Jazz St. Louis in July with none other than Wynton Marsalis.

I just want to continue performing, writing and recording music. I’m thankful for the life I have and the opportunities that people have given me. I hope you enjoy this video. It IS Rocket Science!

Limehouse Blues by Philip Braham & Douglas Furber

This is Limehouse Blues from 1921 in a laid-back rendition inspired by an Art Pepper recording and emphasizing the “bluesy-ness” of the song rather than its vaudeville origins.

Pianist Kyle Aho has played concerts in Japan and Taiwan, and performed with Jeri Brown, Avery Sharpe, George Garzone, Jerry Bergonzi and Bob Brookmeyer. He has appeared at The Kennedy Center, Chicago’s Green Mill, the Blue Room at the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City, plus the Blue Note and Jazz Standard in New York City. The Origin label of Seattle just released Kyle’s latest album entitled Rituals.

This past June, drummer Marty Morrison played at Jazz St. Louis with none other than Wynton Marsalis. Marty has performed with Marcus Roberts and Bobby Watson. He appears regularly at The Jewell in Omaha with Hammond B3 organist Mitch Towne and Grammy-nominated guitarist Dan Wilson.

Kalarama Rex by Bob Bowman

Legendary bassist Bob Bowman has lived in both New York City and Los Angeles, during which time he toured and recorded with Freddie Hubbard, Carmen McRae, Bud Shank, Karrin Allyson, Bobby Watson, Steve Houghton, John Stowell, Bob Sheppard, Steve Allee, the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra and the Toshiko Akiyoshi-Lew Tabakin Big Band.

Bob contributed his driving shuffle tune Kalarama Rex, which is named after a renowned American Saddlebred horse born 100 years ago. Bob grew up on a farm in Kansas and in 1963 his mother bought a descendant of “Kalarama Rex” named “Dr. Sea”. Bob explains: “We had his family tree. I saw that name and thought, ‘There’s a song in there!’”

Stella by Starlight by Victor Young

Stella by Starlight was written for the 1944 movie The Uninvited. The song originally had no lyrics, but the copyright owners knew the song to be a masterpiece, so two years later they had lyrics written for it. Many famous musicians have since recorded Stella in a wide range of styles, but this is probably the first serious recording by a tuba player.

Body and Soul by Johnny Green

Body and Soul played on tuba by Ralph Hepola with a world-class rhythm section: pianist Kyle Aho and drummer Marty Morrison are both on the Missouri State University Jazz Faculty. David Dove is a rising bass star. We’re performing one of the greatest jazz ballads ever written: Body and Soul with music by Johnny Green from 1930. 

This Goes Like This by Ralph Hepola

tubaist Ralph Hepola; pianist Kyle Aho and drummer Marty Morrison, both of the Missouri State University Jazz Faculty; David Dove, electric bass

Jazz musicians have come up with some funny titles: One Finger Snap by Herbie Hancock, Got a Match? by Chick Corea, Let’s Call This by Thelonious Monk.

Often when musicians are demonstrating how various passages are played on their instrument they’ll say: “This goes like this…and this goes like this” etc, etc, which is totally redundant. So anyway, this goes like this. Thanks for listening.

Wired for Sound by Ralph Hepola

I plugged in my tuba to record and video Wired for Sound. I call it social distancing music.

Wired for Sound by Ralph Hepola, tuba & djembe with backing track by David Wallimann of Wallimann Guitar Artistry. Used by permission. Video by Erin Gamble of Gamble Marketing Group. Thanks for listening!

Allow to Cool by Ralph Hepola

This is my new solo tuba act with backing tracks: tuba, hand drum and an excellent digital accompaniment created by David Wallimann of Wallimann Guitar Artistry. Used by permission. That’s Studio 2100 in Springfield, Missouri where Jeff Smith is the main recording engineer. Video is by Erin Gamble of Gamble Marketing Group.

You know how when you’ve baked a frozen entrée and removed it from the oven, the directions say “allow to cool”. Musically, that’s what I’m doing. It certainly is social distancing music! Thanks for watching and listening.

Through the Wringer by Peter Lothringer

Renowned jazz journalist Scott Yanow referred to Through the Wringer as “a soulful song that would have fit perfectly on a 1960s Blue Note album.”

– Scott Yanow is a jazz journalist and historian who has written thirteen books including Trumpet Kings, The Jazz Singers and Jazz On Record 1917-76.

Ralph Hepola, tuba

Peter Lothringer, guitar

Roots and Wings by Ralph Hepola and Peter Shu

“Tu like a tuba, fufu like a funker and gro like a groover. This tune has Herbie fusion magic all over it.” 4 stars

– Fiona Ord-Shrimpton, Editor & Curator of the Track of the Day section on All About Jazz, the world’s biggest jazz website, writing about this track.

Hepmobile by Ralph Hepola

Hepmobile is an uptempo solo vehicle for tuba by Ralph Hepola. The title is inspired by the Hupmobile, an autombile built in Detroit from 1909 through 1940. Ralph is on tuba with Mark Asche on digital keyboard.

Blue Moment by Ralph Hepola

Blue Moment is a quiet and reflective jazz piece by Ralph Hepola. Ralph is heard here on tuba with pianist Mark Asche.

Black-Eyed Susan Irish Air

Black-Eyed Susan is a beautiful, rarely-heard ancient Irish air in a truly unique rendition for tuba and digital keyboard. arranged by tubaist Ralph Hepola and keyboardist Peter Shu

Scottish Lullaby Scottish Air

Here’s another rarely-heard ancient Celtic Air performed as never before on tuba and digital keyboard.

arranged by tubaist Ralph Hepola and keyboardist Peter Shu

Passepied by J. K. F. Fischer

Passepied from Melpomene Suite was originally composed for keyboard by Johann Kaspar Ferdinand Fischer who lived circa 1665 to 1746. Ralph Hepola is the tubaist and arranger with Mark Asche at the piano.