Gary McFarland & Co./Clark Terry – Tijuana Jazz

  • Tijuana Jazz finally arrives on the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – mostly quiet vinyl too
  • The superb eclectic jazz sound here is big and rich, yet still clean, clear and open with good energy, space, and ambience
  • Terry and McFarland combine the Mexican milieu and jazz with warmth and whimsy – Toots Thielemans on harmonica is a nice addition to the festivities
  • “Marimbas, sexy rhythms, perfectly buffered horn arrangements cover this album, and the results are like sitting by a fire on a dark night, cold outside but comforted, completely snug, and watching the flames dance.”

*NOTE: A mark makes 5 light ticks at the beginning of track 5, Mary Jane.

This original Impulse pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What the best sides of this Eclectic Jazz album from 1965 have to offer is clear for all to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1965
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the keyboards, guitars and drums having the correct sound for this kind of recording
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

What We’re Listening For on Tijuana Jazz

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks for the guitars, horns and drums, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
  • Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The musicians aren’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would have put them.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

The Players

Gary McFarland – marimba, electric piano
Joe Newman, Clark Terry – trumpet, flugelhorn
Bob Brookmeyer – valve trombone
Toots Thielemans – harmonica, guitar
Barry Galbraith – guitar
Bob Bushnell – electric bass
Mel Lewis, Grady Tate – drums


Side One

South Of The Border
Acapulco At Night
Fantastic, That’s You
Limehouse Blues

Side Two

Granny’s Samba
Soul Bird
Mexicali Rose
Ira Schwartz’s Golden Dream
Mary Jane
Sweet Georgia Brown

Amazon Rave Review

When you take the warm, subtle trumpet player like Clark Terry, and match him with the warm and subtle arranger Gary McFarland, you get brilliantly warm and subtle music.

In genre name, this is a Latin jazz album. But frankly, I don’t care about genre name. I care about music. Marimbas, sexy rhythms, perfectly buffered horn arrangements cover this album, and the results are like sitting by a fire on a dark night, cold outside but comforted completely snug and watching the flames dance.

I have been listening to Gary McFarland for a long time now: first, because I like the music. But second, there is something very special about his arranging that I can’t quite nail down yet. As a listener, this is a gift that keeps drawing me back, but as a writer and explorer of music, this elusiveness dives me crazy.

McFarland was not brassy like Quincy Jones, not funky like Lalo Schfrin. But you’ll hear on Tijuana Brass how McFarland thought differently about melody and harmonics. He smoothed his bands so that no one instrument stood out. Everything was balanced in fresh chords and beveled waves of sound. His texture was different. He sure was not Don Ellis…

– Bill Your Free Form FM Print DJ, Amazon Review

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