Brian Murphy's association with Tito Puente began in 1989 with a concert at Berlin, a Latin dance venue in Toronto. During this initial encounter, El Rey commissioned Brian to transform three classic jazz standards. Airegin, Straight No Chaser and Pent Up House were recorded as part of a Concord album titled GOZA MI TIMBAL which was released in 1990 and won a Grammy award. (Their collaboration of Straight No Chaser appears as a reference for "converting a non-clave melody" in the Salsa Guidebook for Piano and Ensemble by Rebeca Mauleon.)
GOZA MI TIMBAL
Reviews by Mike Holmes
AIREGIN - Sonny Rollins (4:11)
Reviewer Hugh Wyatt (in the CD liner notes) points out that Rollins wrote some of the most difficult jazz pieces of all time but that Murphy and Puente's arrangement conveys the true jazz concept exceptionally well. Airegin is "Nigeria" backwards which symbolized racial pride and Puente keeps that pride.
STRAIGHT, NO CHASER - Monk (4:52)
I'm not sure Thelonious wrote any easy songs to play and this one is no exception but the Puente group pulls it off with ease. Instead of piano, we have Tito's vibes and horn ensembles with the strong percussive elements present in each song. Either Fettig or Frohman play a hell of a tenor solo and then the trumpets play all around the piano and percussion in the circular manner which Monk often used. Other than Monk himself, I don't think I've heard a better rendition of this classic.
PENT UP HOUSE - Sonny Rollins (5:44)
The arrangement here is remarkable (by Brian Murphy). Started with percussion by three drummers, the song then floats into unison flutes and Tito's vibes before the trumpet and sax section blast in. I bet Rollins enjoyed listening to such incredible renditions of his songs which remain true to the spirit of his music but add a whole new flavor.
The following year, Brian was called upon by the ubiquitous Mr. P. to pen five arrangements for his next album on Concord, OUT OF THIS WORLD. Brian contributed special treatments of In Walked Bud, 'S Wonderful, Georgia Brown, Along Came Betty and Out of This World.
OUT OF THIS WORLD
Review by Scott Yanow
All Music Guide
Among the most memorable performances are Thelonious Monk's "In Walked Bud" and a Latinized "'S Wonderful". Highly recommended and probably the most rewarding in Tito Puente's long string of Concord Picante recordings.
In 1991, Brian was honored as T.P.'s guest in New York and participated in the production of MAMBO OF THE TIMES. Brian's arrangements reinvented Things to Come, The Jitterbug Waltz (in a Latin "2"), Passion Flower, and The Best is Yet to Come. Brian played piano and synthesizer on a number of tracks.
MAMBO OF THE TIMES
Review by Scott Yanow
All Music Guide
On this CD (which is exciting, danceable and quite surprising within the boundaries of the genre), Puente and his 11-piece unit (which includes trumpeter Charlie Sepulveda and tenorman Mario Rivera) play at their best. "Things to Come" is a strong opener, Fats Waller's "Jitterbug Waltz" gets an off-the-wall but successful transformation and even "Passion Flower" works well. All five horns have their opportunities to star (the flute tradeoff on "The Best Is Yet To Come" is impressive) and the rhythm section shows that it can compete favourably with that of any other Latin band. This is a highly recommended set.
Brian's most recent arrangement for El Rey is a bolero treatment of an Erroll Garner ballad, Creme de Menthe, for a recording called MASTER TIMBALLERO. His contribution is one of twelve by ten different arrangers including Hilton Ruiz, Gil Lopez, Charlie Otwell and Tito.
In 2002, Concord Records felt that OUT OF THIS WORLD and MAMBO OF THE TIMES were stellar offerings from Tito's Concord Picante catalog and reissued them as a two CD set entitled HOT TIMBALES. In 2003, to celebrate its 30th anniversary, Concord Records released a six CD retrospective set.
Brian's arrangement of "Airegin" was chosen as the single representation of Tito's 13 year association with Concord Picante.
"A pioneer; an indefatigable personality and an ambassador of Latin jazz and salsa music throughout
his life in music, the undisputed "King of Latin Music", Tito Puente recorded some of the most exciting and
memorable recordings in his incredible career during a fruitful 13 year partnership with the Concord Picante
From El Rey's GRAMMY Award-winning Goza Mi Timbal is this sizzling Latinized version of Sonny Rollins
"Airegin" on which Tito relentlessly drives the band from behind his signature, crackling timbales."
-from Concord 30th Anniversary Set liner notes
Brian Murphy will always be grateful for the opportunities that were offered to him by Tito Puente, the King of Latin Jazz.
Personal Note From Tito to Brian
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