Aside from laundry, vacuuming, emptying the dishwasher and taking out the garbage (do I live the life or what?) my goals for this afternoon are two-fold, this quick and dirty core session and an easy bike ride later on. So, kicking off my “on the mat” session this afternoon is another Goodwill Hunting find, ‘The Lonely Bull‘ album by Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass.
For the record, that’s ‘ol Herb raising a glass in some sort of toast on the cover, not him taking a selfie as I first though.
The colossus that is A&M Records starts right here with the first album by the 1960’s instrumental juggernaut known as the Tijuana Brass. True, there was no “Tijuana Brass” per se at this time; just Herb Alpert and a coterie of Los Angeles sessionmen, with Alpert overdubbing himself on trumpet to get that bullring effect. Also, Alpert was just getting the TJB concept underway; the textures are leaner, the productions less polished, and the accent is more consciously on a Mexican mariachi ambience – the relatively square rhythms, the mandolins, the mournful, wistful siesta feeling – than the records down the road.
The hit title track (originally a tune called ‘Twinkle Star!‘) is a cleverly structured, exciting and haunting piece of record-making – and its composer, Sol Lake, becomes the charter member of Alpert’s team of TJB tunesmiths with several more ethnic-flavored numbers. In accordance with the newly emerging bossa nova movement, Alpert does a nice, straightforward, authentic cover of ‘Desafinado‘, even departing a bit from the tune with some spare jazz-inspired licks, and ‘Crawfish‘ pleasingly adapts the mariachi horn sound to a bossa beat.
The album itself is a whole lot mellower than other Herb Alpert albums in my collection but that’s fine by me because, well, I’m not moving so quickly either. It’s also a bit chewed up but, hey, what do you expect for ¢50 at the local thrift shop? Besides, I don’t mind the odd snap, crackle and pop as – today anyway – it drowns out the same potential sounds emanating from my poor left hand. Got some good planks, crunches and squats done anyway, so onward and forward…
Bring on the bike.