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PJBE Pictures

Classics for Brass (1972) comprises several great, iconic brass masterpieces (Schuller, Jolivet, Bozza, Strauss, Grieg, Dukas, and Poulenc). There are no arrangements or transcriptions on this recording and the works are performed with careful stewardship and exquisite musicianship.

Classics was just the 3rd LP recorded by the PJBE that featured the ensemble exclusively. There were 12 other recordings between 1965 and 1972 where PJBE collaborated or contributed to the final product.

Between 1972 and 1977 PJBE recorded 6 more "solo" albums (notably Fanfare and Divertimento) before Philip and Elgar Howarth were approached by their primary record company (ARGO) about Pictures at an Exhibition.

There are a couple of different versions of this story, but the result is that Elgar Howarth changed the perceptions of the large brass ensemble forever when he took on the project.

Incidentally, several of the musicians on this Pictures recording were also on the original Star Wars: A New Hope sessions that same year. Oh, to be a fly on the wall in the recording halls in London that year. Back to our story...

Elgar Howarth was a first call trumpet player in his own right, and Philip's go-to guy in all of the early quintet work. He is also a world class conductor and a fine composer. He wrote many interesting and challenging charts for the group, both arrangements and original compositions.

For me, this recording (the third brass recording I owned after Classics for Brass and Canadian Brass in Paris) was a game changer. I was 15, had already fallen in love with the tuba and playing chamber music. I was bewitched by the sound of a brass ensemble and was a band and orchestra geek who listened to non classical music only when I was exposed to it by friends. This recording and Gary's orchestration (not a transcription of the Ravel orchestration - fight me) opened up a world of possibility.

Since then, I've written well over 400 arrangements for brass quintet and brass ensemble with Fred Mills and Gary Howarth (and others) as the proverbial angels on my shoulders.

The three recordings referenced above were the genesis.


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