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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



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THE MARIACHI BRASS featuring CHET BAKER

A Taste of Tequila/Hats Off

BGP RECORDS CDBGPD 178


A Taste of Tequila

1. Flowers On The Wall
2. Tequila
3. Mexico
4. Love Me With All Your Heart (Cuando Calienta El Sol)
5. Hot Toddy
6. Twenty-Four Hours From Tulsa
7. Speedy Gonzales
8. Come A Little Bit Closer
9. El Paso
10. La Bamba
Hats Off

11. Happiness Is
12. Sure Gonna Miss Her
13. Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)
14. The Phoenix Love Theme (Senza Fine)
15. These Boots Are Made For Walking
16. On The Street Where You Live
17. Armen's Theme
18. Spanish Harlem
19. Chiquita Banana
20. When The Day Is All Done
21. You Baby
22. It's Too Late
Bonus track

23. Colonel Bogey March

Chet Baker was the epitome of "cool", so you wouldn’t expect him to have been involved in recording sessions where he played in the sunny style of Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass. Yet Alpert’s re-invention of mariachi music (originally performed by Mexican street musicians) was all the rage in the early 1960s, starting with The Lonely Bull and moving on through such memorable pieces as Spanish Flea and Tijuana Taxi. What else could a record label like World Pacific do but join in to try and secure some of the action?

A & R Man Bud Dain assembled in Los Angeles a group of session musicians who played arrangements by Jack Nitzsche in Tijuana mode. The musicians apparently included jazzmen of the quality of guitarists Al Casey and Dennis Budimir and drummer Frank Capp. But jazz fans will be most interested in Chet Baker’s contributions. They tend to be minimal, in the impassive style that Chet shared with latter-day Miles Davis. Chet decorates the themes rather than playing them, and it makes a strange contrast with Herb Alpert’s more extrovert playing on his many Tijuana Brass recordings.

The jazz content is fairly low, especially as many of the tunes are recent pop hits like Flowers on the Wall and Twenty-Four Hours from Tulsa, with an added Mexican tinge. This CD includes the contents of two LPs, the second using even more great jazz names like Victor Feldman and Herb Ellis. There is also a final bonus – an incongruous version of the Colonel Bogey March, which is hardly suitable material for the mariachi sound.

Most of the tracks are short – all less than three minutes, except for El Paso which clocks in at ten seconds more. In truth, this is really only an album for Chet Baker completists – or for those who are fascinated by the vagaries of commercialism and the way that jazz musicians have sometimes been used in the search for pop success.

Tony Augarde

 



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