Joe Tarto’s Sonata

Precisely how Joe Tarto’s tuba became Cliff Edwards’ backing on “My Best Girl” isn’t certain.  Barring some unknown corner of twenties pop or avant-garde polka, vocal with tuba accompaniment has never been a very popular format:

Still, it’s easy to believe this partnership developed through the strength of Tarto’s musicianship.  His big, dark tone pads all those octaves between him and “Ukulele Ike” without ever overpowering the singer. Things never turn thin or lopsided.  The bassist’s steady beat also provides Edwards with a firm footing, which he in turn uses as a springboard as well as a foil for his own vocals and “effin’.”  Edwards just sounds better with something solid to push against.  Most soloists do. The musicians who play “between the beats” get plenty of attention in jazz history, but they all needed a beat to play between in the first place! Respect the beat, respect the beat makers.

Joe Tarto - Titan of the Tuba, Broadway BR 108

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6 thoughts on “Joe Tarto’s Sonata

  1. pwlsax says:

    Vocal with tuba accompaniment, and vocal with ukulele and tuba accompaniment, are two very different things.

    • Andrew J. Sammut says:

      Yeah, I know it’s in there, and I’m sorry to sound ignorant, but the ukulele on this side just doesn’t leave much of an impression on me, texturally or aesthetically. Hence its omission. Color me “pleb.”

  2. Andrew J. Sammut says:

    Here’s some more information about the Tarto/Edwards collaboration:

    Joe was just starting to gain a reputation around NY when he received a call from vaudeville star Cliff Edwards, known as “Ukulele Ike”. Edwards called him at the saloon down the street from where Joe lived in Newark. They had to send a kid to his house to get him, since his family didn’t have a phone. His recording career took off after his million selling duet with Edwards on “June Night” and he became one of the most in demand players in New York, doing recordings during the day, and gigs at night.
    -courtesy of musician and Tarto’s good friend Brian Nalepka, via Enrico Borsetti on Facebook.

  3. John says:

    I’d love to hear the track but the player won’t work for me (it acts as if the track was only a millisecond long), does it need a re-up or is it my computer?

    • Andrew J. Sammut says:

      Hi John, I’m not sure what the issue is, but here is a direct link to the music:
      [audio src="" /]
      Enjoy the music and thanks for reading!

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