Dan Perantoni – Some Memories


Jim remembers the gregarious, warm, friendly, mentor and colleague Dan Perantoni.

My relationship with Dan Perantoni began in April 1965. I was the newest member of the tuba section in The US Army Band in Washington, D. C. Dan had been there a year and Chester Schmitz two. I was a country bumpkin for sure-­-­from a small college and Dan was the confident graduate of Eastman. He was and always has been a self-­ confident man and gregarious, warm and friendly. He (and Chester) took me under their wings and taught me all the evil ways of life – (sinning, drinking, womanizing) and how to avoid as much work with the band as possible. One of the earliest things I remember was the Army Band recording a whole bunch of German Marches and only four tubas were needed (of the six). Being the new guy in the section they convinced me to play all the rehearsals and recordings so they could drink coffee in the lounge—I became 4th (instead of 6th) tuba—and was gullible. They got a great kick out of it.

Another time, after a hard night of partying, I got in bed at 6 AM on a Sunday, at 6:30 the phone rang and it was the Army Band telling me to be at the band building in 30 minute in dress blues.A famous personality died and the band had to meet the body at the Union Train Station. I was “blue” with a bad hangover and threw-­up out the bus window all the way down Constitution Avenue. At the station I just had to leave formation to go to the bathroom. Dan and Chester covered for me to the officers-­-­which kept me out of hot water—or even being sent to Viet Nam.

Dan helped me buy my first tuba-­-­a Mirafone 186-­4U CC. Even in his early 20’s he was connected with the European tuba market—which led to a life of designing and selling tubas. He is a good businessman and a kind of “wheeler-­dealer” (I mean this in a good way). He got me a new horn for only $600.

Dan was taking lessons in New York with the great Harvey Phillips and introduced me to him. That relationship was life-­long too and what I learned from Harvey has greatly enriched my life.

Bob Pallansch (another member of the TUSAB tuba section) had a gig at the Scarlet Garter in Georgetown playing Dixieland music. Dan was his sub and both recommended me to be the 2nd sub. It was from 9-­ 1 six nights a week and paid $10 and all the beer you could drink—I drank my pay for sure! Eventually the gig became mine and I stayed with the leader, George Graves, for several years. I really learned how to play bass-­line tuba—thanks to Dan and Bob.

During these years in Washington (and ever since) Dan and I have been the best of friends. We even double dated. Many don’t know this but Dan was a quite accomplished lounge-­type piano player. I was a budding bass player and we worked many dance and club jobs together in the rhythm section.

After finishing his time in the Army Band Dan went to an orchestra job in Holland and then came back a year later to D.C. to do graduate work. We worked a lot together in those couple of years.


Dan was (and is) a terrific tuba player—and again very self-­ confident. Throughout his amazingly successful career he has been one of the real giants as a soloist. His many recordings have been an inspiration to me and to every tuba player. And he premiered and introduced dozens of important solo works for the tuba. I was always amazed at how easily he could play the most difficult stuff. His sound is gorgeous and his technique flawless. I attribute this to his natural talent. I believe that, through his early training as a pianist and “all round musician”, he developed great ears. I look for that in young students when I recruit today. His solo playing and clinics have been on the forefront of the tuba revolution of the last 45 years. He is one of the greatest players of all time—and one of the most influential.

Dan and I also shared many experiences as leaders in I.T.E.A. (formerly T.U.B.A.). Dan was a founding father of this important organization.

We have remained close friends ever since. Our families have been close too. Dan and I shared a lot about our personal lives. He seemed to always land on his feet and now has an amazing wife, Judy, and a very happy home life.

As a teacher he is also one of the best. He probably has had more successful students than anyone in the world. The world’s college faculties, bands and orchestras are full of Perantoni students.

Dan went to teach at the University of Illinois in the late 1960’s and I went to the University of Tennessee. My connection with Dan, Harvey and Winston Morris brought me into that small group of enthusiasts that made big changes in the tuba world. I got to be part of the planning committee for the 1st International Tuba Euphonium Conference because of those relationships.

Later Dan moved to Arizona State University and I moved to Los Angeles. In (I think) 1988 Dan asked me to fill in a semester for him while he was on sabbatical. I was a new pilot at the time and the chance to fly there every week or two was a great incentive. At the time he had what I consider the finest class of tuba players in the world. Pat Sheridan, Tony Kniffin, Tom Holtz, Jeff Anderson were just a few names in a large class of his students who went on to prominence in the tuba world. It was a Mecca for tuba students.

When Harvey Phillips retired at Indiana University the obvious choice to replace him was Dan. He has gone on to cap a brilliant career there. A year ago last summer I visited Dan and Judy at their palatial home. We were joined by Winston Morris and Bob Tucci. Our goal was to visit with our mentor Harvey Phillips and just to hang out. It was wonderful!

Dan always had jokes to tell and remains to this day, one of the best joke tellers I know—and has a proper irreverence for everything— my kind of jokester. It is a reflection of his open and easygoing style. I was always impressed with his warmth and friendly manner. He is one of the most loved people I know. While we are only 2 years apart I kind of looked up to him as a big brother and he has always remained one of my idols. From my perspective I see a man who is really nice to everybody, lives an unselfish life and one who has brought music to all who touch him.

I feel blessed to have Dan Perantoni in my life. He is one of my best friends and my life is greatly enriched by this wonderful guy.



Jim Self
December 2010

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