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Cities Service Band of America

Postby Bandmaster » Mon Nov 28, 2005 5:52 pm

After I bought my York Master off of eBay a couple months ago I had a chance to talk to the previous owner by phone. His name is C. Jerrett Miller and he said he played the tuba in the Cities Service Band of America under Paul Lavalle in 1957. From my internet searches I found that the band had a long celebrated run. They had a live radio broadcast from Radio City Music Hall through 1956. After which they toured and performed. My guess is that the band's roster changed somewhat when they started to tour.

Anyway... I found several of their old albums for sale on eBay and other places and I bought some so I could take a listen to see how good they were. Since I was only a toddler back then I have no memory of them. I picked up albums titled "Great Band Music", "Concert in the Park", "Lavalle At Work" and "Jubilee Marches". All where recorded in 1955 and 1956 when they still had the top players. WOW! What a band! And the low brass section sounded incredible.

I found a copy of the band roster on the net and I was stuned to see who was playing tuba. Paul Lavalle carried 4 tuba players, and they were not exactly unknowns! See the roster below for the tuba section. You should hear the recording of Lavalle's march "Big Joe the Tuba"... :shock: The "Great Band Music" album has great recordings of "La Gazza Ladra" by Rossini, Vaughan Williams' "Folk Song Suite", "March and Procession of Bacchus" by Leo Delibes, "The Universal Judgment" by Camille De Nardis, Prokofieff's "Summer Day Suite" along with some lighter faire. The quality of the recordings is outstanding. Along with some great tuba playing.

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For those that can't make it out, it says that the tuba section is William Bell, Fred Pfaff, Abraham Torchinsky and Joseph Tarto. Not a bad bunch of tuba players, eh?
Last edited by Bandmaster on Mon Nov 28, 2005 6:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cities Service Band of America

Postby cktuba » Mon Nov 28, 2005 5:58 pm

:arrow:
Last edited by cktuba on Thu Mar 02, 2006 9:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Lew » Mon Nov 28, 2005 6:14 pm

Mantia must have been pretty old in 55 though. Anyone know how old he would have been?
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Postby brianf » Mon Nov 28, 2005 6:20 pm

Once when Mr Bell couldn't make a gig, he needed a sub - Arnold Jacobs! That's what Mr Jacobs told me once while we were driving into Cincy.
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Postby windshieldbug » Mon Nov 28, 2005 7:02 pm

Lew wrote:Mantia must have been pretty old in 55 though. Anyone know how old he would have been?


He was born 1873, came to America in 1890 at the age of 17. So circa 82.
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Postby Bandmaster » Mon Nov 28, 2005 7:30 pm

I just found listed on the net that Mantia died in 1951, so this roster must be from 1950 or earlier. But it is my understanding that most members stayed on until the radio show ended. The albums have no full roster listed on them, but the names of the featured soloists match up to the roster listed here.
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Postby Chuck Jackson » Mon Nov 28, 2005 8:44 pm

I assume they had a recording of "Big Joe The Tuba" on there. I didn't know it was a march, I remember playing it in 6th grade for a PTA meeting as a solo. Pretty cool piece. Did the whole section play it or did Tarto do it by himself? Hell of a section. I had the rare pleasure of meeting Fred Pfaff before he died. He was the first tuba player in the old Florida Symphony Orchestra after he retired from a life time of playing in NY. He played well, and well, into his 80's. The late Lee Richardson was a good friend of his and penned a wonderful article about him in an old TUBA Journal. Boy, did he have stories, sadly I have forgotten them. His wife was an absolute hoot talking about their first vacuum cleaner. Paul Lucas wrote a very nice article about Joe Tarto in an old TUBA Journal also. Paul studied with him when he was a kid in NJ and had alot of admiration for him as a player and a person. Thanks for the memories.

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Postby Bandmaster » Tue Nov 29, 2005 2:38 am

Chuck Jackson wrote:I assume they had a recording of "Big Joe The Tuba" on there. I didn't know it was a march, I remember playing it in 6th grade for a PTA meeting as a solo. Pretty cool piece. Did the whole section play it or did Tarto do it by himself? Hell of a section.


The recording I have is on the "Concert in the Park" album. No credit is given to a soloist on the cover, but the recording does sound like one tuba player was closer to the mic than the others. You can hear other tubas playing in the background from time to time. This version is definately a "march", but I have seen other 78 and 45 rpm records and albums on the web listing it, so I am sure there were other versions recorded.
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Postby LoyalTubist » Tue Feb 14, 2006 6:35 am

Did you see who the tuba players were?

Bill Bell
Fred Pfaff
Abe Torchinsky
Joe Tarto

Wow, not a ringer in the bunch!

Fred Pfaff played for radio programs in New York in the 1930s and '40s.

That was a dream tuba section!

Sorry to be redundant of what you said, Bandmaster, but this was an amazing section!
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Postby phil » Wed Feb 15, 2006 8:59 pm

If I'm not mistaken, Paul Lavelle also had an unusual set up for his band. At least for the radio show. The tuba section was in the middle of the band!! Not in the back as is customary. I remember seeing a picture of this somewhere but can't remember where.
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Postby LoyalTubist » Thu Feb 16, 2006 2:10 am

True, but they used sousaphones. But who cares? What a great section!
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Postby Alex C » Fri Mar 24, 2006 12:58 pm

I wonder if Fred Fennell ever saw that? In one of his first concerts and recording sessions with the Dallas Wind Symphony, he had the tubas sit in the middle of the second row. I thought it was very strange. It sounds a lot different there, too.

I can't imagine the problems sousaphones caused in the middle of the Cities Service Band. The two rows behind us complained constantly ("are you going to be holding your horn up at letter M," "lean left/right," etc.).

Maybe Lavalle was taller than Fennell....
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