Stephen Shoop

Phillips Solo Tuba LPs

Harvey Phillips Solo Tuba Albums

Harvey Phillips recorded five solo tuba albums-- all on the Golden Crest label.  Bill Bell and His Tuba is the first solo tuba LP and was recorded in 1957.  Phillips' solo recordings are on the same label.... due to his close association with Bill Bell...  and Mr. Bell's association with Clark Galehouse, President of Golden Crest Records.  Both Galehouse and Bell were from Creston, Iowa-- hence the name Golden "Crest" Records.

I consider Harvey's solo recordings the main cornerstone of his discography.  His first LP is what I would consider to be a "traditional" solo album.  The remaining four are a little different in that they are all dedicated to various people.  Volumes two, three, and five comprise works of such length that there is only room for one piece per side.

Alec Wilder and Harvey Phillips

Those reading these words should know about the great influence Alec Wilder had on Harvey Phillips.  The close relationship between the two men impacted Harvey's solo recordings, as well as his career.  Alec and Harvey met through Bill Bell.  Wilder wished for his first brass quintet to be played by the New York Philharmonic Brass Ensemble.  (Of course, Mr. Bell played in that group which recorded a very well known album by the same name, also on the Golden Crest label).  Wilder's request came at a time that was not convenient for the New York Philharmonic Brass, so Bell suggested that Wilder contact Harvey (who had co-founded the New York Brass Quintet).  Beginning with this initial contact, Phillips and Wilder became very good lifelong friends.  All of Phillips' solo albums include Wilder pieces, except for Harvey Phillips in Recital, Vol. III.          

Liner Notes

I have found the liner notes on these long play records to be very informative and enjoyable to read.  Mr. Phillips was meticulous in composing them.  To me, this reading the liner notes is almost as enjoyable to read as listening to the music.  In order to present as clear a picture as possible, I will include some of the information contained in the liner notes to provide clarity about the music and also the circumstances surrounding the album.  

Additional Thoughts

As with many recordings included in this project, dates are not always definitive and clear.  The release date of an album is not always the same year it was recorded.  Also, Mr. Phillips performed on a number of "shared" albums.  Sometimes he would be available on one day of a session, but not on subsequent days.  In this scenario another tuba player (Don Butterfield, for example) would be hired for the next session.  Those who know Harvey's distinctive playing might notice that the tuba playing does not sound like Harvey.  It's not!  It might be Don Butterfield... although Harvey might be the only tuba player listed on the album cover!   


Harvey Phillips, Tuba

(1) Harvey Phillips, Tuba.  Golden Crest Records.  RE 7006.  (1959).  Milton Kaye and Bernie Leighton, piano. This recording includes (1) Air and Bouree, by Bach/Bell,(2) Sonata for Tuba and Piano, by Alec Wilder, (3) 
Andante, by George F. Handel, (4) Gigue, by Archangelo Corelli, (5) O Isis and Osiris, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and (6) Two Moods for Tuba, by Donald Swann.

John Barrows, Horn-Harvey Phillips, Tuba

(2) John Barrows, Horn-Harvey Phillips, Tuba. Golden Crest Records.  RE 7018.  (1964).  Bernie Leighton and Tait Sanford, piano. The LP includes two works:  (1)  Sonata for French Horn, Tuba, and Piano, by Alec Wilder, and (2) Serenade No. 12 for Solo Tuba, by Vincent Persichetti.

Harvey Phillips In Recital, Vol. III

(3) Harvey Phillips In Recital, Vol. III. Golden Crest Records.  CRS 4122.  (1970 or 1971).  The recording includes Sonata for Tuba and String Quartet, by David Baker, and Tuba Suite for Solo Tuba and Three French Horns, by Morton Gould.  David Baker wrote the following about his Sonata for Tuba and String Quartet:

The piece was over a year in unfolding but the result was this work written for, at first glance, the unlikely combination of Tuba and String Quartet.

The choice of string quartet as the companion (not accompanying) group was much deliberate and calculated with the intention of placing the tuba in surroundings unlike those in which it usually finds itself.  Because of Harvey's great artistry and sensitivity as well as the vast tonal combinatorial possibilities inherent in this unusual alliance the string quartet provided the perfect foil.

The composition is in four movements, each designed to explore a different aspect of the Quartet/Tuba combination.  The first and fourth movements are fast and in a loose sonata allegro form.  Movement II is a monothematic and draws very heavily in mood, harmonic structure, and note choice, on the Blues.  Movement III is slow and lyrical and combines elements of song form and sonata form.     

This album is dedicated to memory of William J. (Bill) Bell.  The following dedication appears on the liner notes:

William Bell's contributions to music and his achievements as a performing artist ranks him among the great musicians of the Twentieth Century.  Few instrumentalists have had such influence upon the image, acceptance and establishment of artistic standards for their instrument.

In addition to his artistry as a performer William Bell was a great teacher.  He was an inspiration to his students and encouraged them to seek out musical challenges in every area of performance.  Virtually every outstanding tuba player of the past three decades benefitted from his teaching. 

Bill Bell was a generous man who lived life to the fullest.  He gave of himself completely in music and in friendship.  It is with much affection and appreciation that I dedicate this album to him.

Harvey Phillips 

Harvey Phillips in Recital:  For Family and Friends

(4) Harvey Phillips in Recital: For Family and Friends. Golden Crest Records.  RE  7054.  (1974).  The album comprises the Alec Wilder tuba solos written for members of the Phillips family plus three others.  This is by far my favorite of the five solo albums.  Side one includes (1) Suite for Flute and Tuba, by Walter S. Hartley, (2) Two Part Invention No. 1, by J.S. Bach, (3) Selected Movements From "Sonatas For Flute," by G.F. Handel, and Suite No. 1 For Tuba and Piano, by Alec Wilder, also known as "Effie Suite."  Side 2 includes all Wilder suites- (1) Song for Carol, (2) Suite No. 2 For Tuba and Piano (Jesse Suite), (3) Suite No. 3 for Tuba and Piano (Little Harvey Suite), (4) Suite No. 4 For Tuba and Piano (Thomas Suite), and Suite No. 5 For Tuba and Piano (Ethan Ayer Suite).

"Effie," comprised of six short movements, is undoubtedly the most popular of all Wilder tuba solos.  The following documentation for appears in the liner notes:

Written at the request of Clark Galehouse, President of Crest Records, for a children's album that would depict six imaginary experiences of an elephant named "Effie."  I believe Mr. Wilder was successful in documenting these events without the usual insult to the instrument occasioned by almost every other application of the tuba as a hippopotamus, whale, elephant, or other large creature.  Rather than play on making the instrument and its characterization one of clumsiness and retardation, he maintained dignity, charm and warmth.  At the same time he illustrates very well a humor with class. 

I consider both the solo and this particular recording to be "classics."  Every serious tuba player should have an opportunity to hear and play "Effie."  A close second is Song for Carol, which also appears on the Harvey Phillips Legacy CD.

Harvey Phillips Tuba in "Tribute to a Friend"

(5) Harvey Phillips in "Tribute to a Friend."  Golden Crest Records.  CRSQ-4147.  (1975 or 1976).  This album is a tribute to hornist John R. Barrows (1913-1974) and includes two selections.  Side 1 is
Suite No. 2 For Horn, Tuba and Piano (1972), by Alec Wilder.  the work was written for John Barrows and Harvey Phillips.  Side 2 is Variations for Solo Tuba and Nine Horns (1974), by Bernhard Heiden.  The work was commissioned by Harvey Phillips in Memory of John Barrows. 


All five albums are currently out-of-print.  It is unfortunate that these great albums are NOT available on CD (or other format).  The market potential for these types of items at the present time is low.  I am optimistic that there will be a viable way to make these great recordings available in the near future.  Until then, one can occasionally obtain a copy on Ebay and other online sources.

Last Updated February 1, 2013
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