Family : Manhattan Transfer Adds Life to 'Tuba'


Chances are that if you went to school before the arts were hacked out of the budget, you whiled away an easy hour in grade school being introduced to orchestral music through a scratchy vinyl recording of "Tubby the Tuba."

Remember the endearing, "fat little tuba" who conquers self-doubt when he learns that the orchestra needs his "oom-pah, oom-pah"?

Performed the world over since 1942, Tubby has been narrated by big names from Danny Kaye to Carol Channing. In its latest incarnation, one of the world's great jazz quartets turns a children's classic into rediscovered treasure.

"The Manhattan Transfer Meets Tubby the Tuba," a recent release from Summit Records, includes all four of the Tubby stories, written by Paul Tripp and composed by George Kleinsinger from 1942 on. The sequels to the original found Tubby running away to the circus, joining a marching band and jamming with a jazz band--the only time you'll hear the Transfer's signature harmonies.

Not to worry, however. There's plenty to like on this sweet album, from the expressiveness of the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra and tuba soloist Tommy Johnson, to the comic characterizations and vocal solos by Transfer members--catch Alan Paul's deep-voiced Bullfrog.

Notably, the material isn't compromised with contemporary attitude or updated references. Instead, listeners are treated, as intended, to the sweep, drive and bounce of the orchestra and gentle stories with messages for both heart and mind.

* "The Manhattan Transfer Meets Tubby the Tuba," Summit Records. Available at major record retail stores, or call Summit Records at (602) 838-3461. CD: $11.99; cassette: $9.44. Concert Mountain: Big deal roller-coaster thrills and rowdy rap and rock concerts have given Six Flags Magic Mountain a reputation for being more teen-oriented than tot-friendly, but this summer families are obviously the focus as the park introduces its new "Kids Concert Series" in June, featuring some of the hottest names to entertain the crayon crowd:

June 4-5: Kids and parents can get slimed in "Nickelodeon's Wild & Crazy Kids Live!" version of its TV game show.

June 11: TV stars Shari Lewis and her woolly pal Lamb Chop perform selections from their PBS series, "Lamb Chop's Play Along."

June 25: Separate concerts with Discovery Music's big success, Joanie Bartels, and the rock 'n' roll humor of Glenn Bennett & the Wave.

June 26: Canadian megastar Fred Penner and Disney's rapidly rising music stars Parachute Express and Craig 'n Company on separate bills.

* Concerts are included in admission price. Information: (805) 255-4111, (818) 367-5965. More Morphin Madness: Kids who can't seem to get enough of Fox's mega-hit, can join the newly formed Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Fan Club. Membership: $17.95; information: (800) MMPR-321.

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