Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass / Herb Alpert

The Lonely Bull

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The colossus that is A&M Records starts right here with the first album by the 1960s 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.

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