Brian Murphy's Association with Tito Puente

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. (The Straight No Chaser arrangement appears as a reference for "converting a non-clave melody" in the Salsa Guidebook for Piano and Ensemble by Rebeca Mauleon.)



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’s arrangement conveys the true jazz concept exceptionally well. Airegin is "Nigeria" backwards which symbolized racial pride and Puente keeps that pride.


   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.


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.


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 label. 

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!

Tito Puente and the Making of Latin Music by Steven Loza

(Excerpt from Page 212.)

The Concord studio dates recorded during this time included four albums:

Mambo of the Times (1992), Royal T (1993), Master Timbalero (1994)

and Special Delivery (1996), featuring Maynard Ferguson. On the well-sculpted, eclectic Mambo of the Times, Puente again uses an expanded ensemble of eleven musicians (besides himself), a combination that enabled him to generate either his small group sound or one closer to his large orchestra. The diverse mix of a traditional concert sound and innovative ideas makes the album one of his most creative endeavors. The various tracks include jazz classics arranged by Puente and Brian Murphy, such as Billy Strayhorn's ballad "Passion Flower," here made into a bolero rhythm, and "Things to Come," by Gil Fuller and Dizzy Gillespie.

The latter arrangement features both trumpeters, Charlie Sepulveda and Piro Rodriguez, as soloists; Sepulveda's improvisation is impressive homage to Gillispie's trumpet style. Mario Rivera solos on both tenor and baritone saxophones. Perhaps one of the most innovative arrangements is Puente and Murphy's version of Fats Waller's "Jitterbug Waltz," converted from the

its original waltz structure into a 4/4 meter and utilizing Latin rhythms and an interesting, syncopated interpretation of the head on vibraphone.

The balance of the album includes Marty Sheller's arrangement of "If You Could See Me Now" (Tadd Dameron and Carl Sigman), Murphy and Puente's

arrangement of "The Best Is Yet to Come" (Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh).

and Gil Lopez's arrangement of his own "El Titon."

Brian Murphy  has created/supervised/recorded  many special arrangements for the King of Latin Music, Tito Puente, and was honorably noted, along with Tito, in the “Salsa Guidebook for Piano and Ensemble” by Rebeca Mauleon for the arrangement of “Straight No Chaser”

which appears as a reference for "converting a non-clave melody".

In 1988 Brian  first performed with Tito and they began a collaboration with Brian as arranger/pianist/keyboardist on a number of successful recordings for the Concord Picante label that included Grammy Award winner “Goza Mi Timbal”.

Brian's arrangement of "Airegin" was chosen as the single representation of Tito's 13 year association with Concord Picante in their 30th Anniversary boxed CD set.

His friendship and music with this great artist continued until Mr. Puente’s passing in the year 2000.  Brian will always be grateful for the opportunities that were offered to him by Tito Puente, the King Of Latin Jazz.


©Brian Murphy 2024

S'Wonderful Excerpt

In Walked Bud Excerpt

Pent Up House Excerpt

Airegin Excerpt

Things To Come Excerpt

Jitterbug Waltz Excerpt

Straight No Chaser