Happy Birthday Gary Karr Book 1

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In Preparation

"Gary Karr celebrates his 80th birthday on 20 November 2021 and his contribution to the double bass is incalculable, putting him in a direct line backwards to Koussevitsky, Bottesini and Dragonetti. I first heard Gary play in about 1978, when he gave a recital at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, and met him afterwards. We were last in contact a few days ago and a copy of his biography, with a wonderful handwritten dedication from Gary, is one of my treasured possessions. I have heard him play many times over the past 40 years and Gary is the reason that we are where we are today. Gary paved the way for us all to make our own contribution to the double bass world and if ever there was someone worthy of a statue, it's Gary." [David Heyes / November 2020]

DAVID HEYES (UK) - All the World's a Stage
Gary Karr is a born entertainer and shares his love of life, music and the double bass in every note that he plays. He would have been successful in any branch of entertainment but, fortunately for the double bass world, he chose an instrument that members of his family had played for seven generations. Gary's worldwide career puts him in a direct lineage with Dragonetti, Bottesini and Koussevitsky and the double bass world is where it is today because of his pioneering spirit and positive can-do attitude. All the World's a Stage is based on the notes G and A, the only two musical letters from Gary's name and, although Gary isn't a jazzer, this piece took on a life of it's own and ended up as a pizzicato tribute, infused with classical, jazz and contemporary styles. Overall the piece is slow and rhapsodic, with open string and harmonic drones throughout, and is a sincere and respectful tribute to one of the 'greats' in the double bass world. [David Heyes]

IVOR HODGSON (UK) - Chocolate
Unfortunately I never had the pleasure of hearing Gary Karr perform live, but I did see on T.V. a few of his master classes. In one such class he likened playing the Double Bass to Chocolate, so what could be better for a birthday present than a box of this lovely confectionary. This playful little piece follows chocolate from its dark mysterious quality to the super sweet white variety with one or two added ingredients. [Ivor Hodgson]

When considering a piece to compose to celebrate Gary Karr’s birthday, I naturally googled him as I do not know him personally. One of the most remarkable things I found was his performance of Saint-Saen’s ‘The Swan’ performed with great beauty on the double-bass. When composing for double bass I often write something fun and upbeat, but this inspired me to compose a lyrical piece for a change. I decided to use ‘The Swan’ as a starting point – I have used motifs from that piece and structured the music in the same way. ‘The Swan’ is accompanied by two pianos and so one of the challenges I had was to compose a piece for a solo instrument that felt like it contained a melody and accompaniment.
One can never come close to the simplicity and beauty of Saint-Saens’s music but I hope my piece will serve as a miniature companion to it and a homage to Gary. I have called it ‘The Cygnet’. Happy birthday Gary! [Edmund Jolliffe]

FRANO KAKARIGI (Croatia) - (Quasi una) buleria sobre G.A.R.y...
The title of this piece, barely 2 minutes long, obviously deals with the name of Gary Karr, to whom is dedicated and to be performed for his 80th birthday. After taking a closer look, you can see that the rhythmical part of the work is based on G-A-D pattern of notes (D in French-Italian tradition of solfege is named Re, which, for the purpose of fitting with his name, I abbreviated as R); letter “y” in Spanish means “and”, thus closing this statement in interrogative form.
Bulería is Spanish rhythm, belonging to the family of Flamenco rhythms and dances. It’s organised as a combination of 6/8 and 3/4 measures where the accentuation of the beat marks the difference between rhythmic values.The pizzicato introduction can be performed freely, fantasy-like, but here as well, without losing the rhythmical orientation. Finally, due to its duration, I didn’t dare to call it “Bulería”; preceding with (Quasi una) seemed to me more appropriate. [Frano Kakarigi]

Air was written as a short tribute to Gary Karr on his 80th birthday. We bassists have much to thank Gary for, and his contribution to the bass community is beyond estimation. There are many features of Gary's playing which have been influential to performers on the instrument over the years, and for me, it is his control of the extended melodic line and the depth and quality of sound that he creates in every register. With this in mind, Air is cast as a single, slowly unwinding melodic line which rises gradually from the middle register to an impassioned climax, before quickly petering out into gentle harmonics. [Ashley John Long]

RODRIGO MATA (Mexico) - On the G
Gary Karr often uses a very suitable allegory to describe the sound of the double bass and once said the following phrase "If chocolate could sing, it would sound like the Double Bass." This idea takes me directly to everything that this great master of the double bass represents, from his musical performance, his way of teaching and sharing, his great legacy that has made an international impact for many = decades and his continuous contributions to the world of the double bass. And it seems to me that "chocolate" is a word that brings together many of the qualities of this legendary musician.
“On the G” is inspired by the aforementioned term and through a purely sweet and melodic central theme it seeks to express a little of what the personality that Gary Karr reflects in his way of being and interpreting music. It has been designed with great respect and admiration for the maestro Karr and is composed using some unconventional double bass techniques such as flageolet pizzicatos, octave artificial harmonics, the simultaneous playing of ordinary and harmonic notes and the simultaneous playing of pizzicato and bow, in the same way it preserves a tonal harmonic form and a traditional rhythmic symmetry. The title of the work refers to three elements that are related to each other, the first is that the “G” is the initial letter of “Gary” and symbolizes that the music is inspired by his life and work, the second is that The main melody of the piece stands out mainly on the G string of the double bass and the third is that it is a small reference to the biography of G.K., written by Mary Rannie, entitled "Gary Karr: life on the G String" This work has been commissioned by master David Heyes for one of his excellent commissioned projects, the celebration of the 80th birthday of the great Gary Karr. [Rodrigo Mata]

BERNARD SALLES (France) - A Tribute to Gary Karr
When David Heyes launched his project to celebrate Gary Karr’s 80th birthday, I agreed to take part straight away because every double bass player knows Gary Karr ! He is one of the last ‘living legends’ of the double bass. His recording of Koussevitsky is a reference. For his whole life, he has been a tireless defender of this beautiful instrument and thanks to him, the double bass won its spurs. This piece, dedicated to Gary Karr, has three short movements in Italian sonata form : fast/slow/fast. The order of the first and last movements can be switched if desired. The three movements are linked by the same melodic motif : e flat, d, e, a, which is the common thread of the piece. [Bernard Salles]

JACQUES VANHERENTHALS (Belgium) - Improvisation
In the 1980s there were two double bass quartets in Brussels : the Brussels Double Bass Quartet and the Maurice Aerts Quartet. Maurice was my colleague in the Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra during the 1970s before he became Solo Double Bass to the Opera La Monnaie. Maurice took the initiative for the organisation of a big double bass virtuoso meeting in Gand in 1985, if I remember well. He invited his own quartet and also guests Franco Petracchi, Niels Pedersen and … Gary Karr. I remember, among others, that Franco played the Rossini Duetto for cello and double bass with France Springuel (a great Belgian cello virtuoso) and Gary played the Moses Fantasy with breath taking ease, making clown faces that made all listeners laugh. What an incredible virtuoso he is! I composed this modest improvisation for him to celebrate his 80th birthday and send my deepest admiration . [Jacques Vanherenthals]


  • All the World's a Stage (David Heyes)
  • Chocolate (Ivor Hodgson)
  • The Cygnet (Edmund Jolliffe)
  • (Quasi una) bleria sobre G.A.R.y... (Frano Kakarigi)
  • Air (Ashley John Long)
  • On the G (Rodrigo Mata)
  • A Tribute to Gary Karr (Bernard Salles)
  • Improvisation (Jacques Vanherenthals)
Cat No. RM1167
Supplier Code RM1167
ComposersDavid Heyes
Ivor Hodgson
Edmund Jolliffe
Frano Kakarigi
Ashley John Long
Rodrigo Mata
Bernard Salles
Jacques Vanherenthals
CategoryDouble Bass Solo
Difficulty level7 - 8, Advanced
Weight 163 grams
Availability NOT IN STOCK. Sorry for delay!
Available in approx. 7—12 days.
See also...
RM1168  Happy Birthday Gary Karr Book 2