Stephen Shoop

H. Phillips Rec. Project

Harvey Phillips Recordings Project

In 2000 I contacted my former tuba teacher, Harvey Phillips, about an LP recording found at a used book and record store-- Charleston City All-Stars Go Dixieland.  (I was aware of his solo recordings-- but few others).  Several weeks later he called and asked me to assist with compiling a list of recordings made during his career.  This information was to be included in his upcoming autobiography.  I asked the question... "about how many recordings are we looking for?"  His reply was "about 100"... but he was not totally sure.  Harvey went on to say that while freelancing in New York City he was very busy playing and did not take time to document those recording dates.  Although some were from his Indiana years, most of the recording sessions date from the years he worked and lived in New York City (1950-1971).  As I mentioned above, my role was to assist.  At the time, I had no notion that I would eventually take over this project as my own.  If I had known then what I know now, I would have gathered more details.  That said, during the final ten years of his life, we documented about 210 recordings, and in the process, I assembled about 125 pages of documentation.  Most of this information was derived from our personal conversations, letters, and emails to and from each other.  Many of the stories he shared are well known.  Others are perhaps only known to this remaining close friends and family.  I am confident that some of the information is only be known to me.  Over the years, I have obtained the vast majority of these recordings.  I enjoyed collecting and listening to them, and continue to marvel at his artistry.  Harvey's playing is very distinctive.  His tone has a certain velvety and clear quality, especially in the middle to upper register of the old Conn tuba, which is the instrument he played almost his entire career.  


The types of music he recorded included orchestral, band, brass quintet, brass ensemble, Dixieland, tuba-euphonium ensemble, jazz, and rock.  And... of course, there are his solo recital LP recordings.  I found it interesting when he told me that playing in the circus band and sitting next to the great tuba player Johnny Evans in Merle Evans' Barnum and Bailey Circus Band was one of his most enjoyable ensemble playing experiences.  Harvey said each time the band performed he received a tuba lesson from Johnny Evans!   


While some of the recordings are on cassette, 45 rpm records, reel-to-reel tape, and CDs, the vast majority are on 33 1/3 rpm album format.  Younger readers might not be completely familiar with this type of media.  This type of record is known as an "album."  Music on each side is about 15 minutes in length.  A very important feature is the inclusion of liner notes, which involves fairly extensive details about the music and artists (in print large enough to read)!  This aspect of recordings changed with the advent of a smaller (and more modern) compact disc (CD), and has all but disappeared with the even newer format- mp3.  Some of the recordings documented were never commercially available, or were available only on a very small scale.  Of course, many originally available on 33 1/3 format are now issued on CD.  

"Variety is the Spice of Life"

In the latter years of his life Mr. Phillips found several opportunities to share his experiences.  In May, 2003, for example, Harvey made a presentation at the International Tuba-Euphonium Association (I.T.E.A.) Regional Conference held at Texas Christian University, in Fort Worth, Texas.  The title of the session was "Variety is the Spice of Life."  The presentation included the playing of a number of recorded examples.  Along those same lines was the release of the Harvey Phillips Legacy CD, which is a "best of" recording.  I was fortunate to spend several days at TUBARANCH during the summer of 2005.  I urged him to release his five solo albums on CD.  He told me that he would rather continue with additional issues of the Legacy projects.  I persisted with my suggestion and argued that making these recordings available on CD in their entirety would be important from a historical perspective, and introduce his playing to a new generation of tuba players.  This is one of the only issues which I openly disagreed with him on.  To this day... I stand by my opinion.      

Plans for the Project

I have decided to share the information I have gathered.  I've begun with his five solo tuba recordings on the Golden Crest label and will post additional information as the project unfolds.  Check back soon and often!  There is bound to be erroneous and conflicting information.  If your knowledge about something is contrary what I have posted, or if you have something to add, please contact me.  I feel it is important to assemble documentation that is as accurate and complete as possible.   

Last Updated February 1, 2013

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