AN: See another thing, back in my era, you had what we called society bands and Mickey Mouse bands. Mickey Mouse bands, those that played the hotels, like a Freddy Martin Orchestra.
FB: When you say 'Mickey Mouse', is that a disparaging term?
AN: Well, it just gave it a name 'cause it wasn't really something, not comedy, but it was a bouncy band and they played hotels a lot and they would feature lead tenor, very heavy saxophone sounds ...
FB: Like Boots Randolph, or something?
AN: No, that's a different story. This is very commercial. But anyway this orchestra leader, Shep Fields, who had a commercial band in those days, he created a thing called the 'Rippling Rhythm.' He would get a cocktail glass, that you put brandy in and have water in there with a straw. And the band would play the music and certain open spots he would blow bubbles in it.
FB: Into the mic?
AN: Yeah, with the bubbles. That's the rippling rhythm. Very commercial. But the point I am getting at, later on, I guess he did very well financially, he organized a jazz orchestra, but it was all reeds, no brass, all reeds, any reed instrument that you could think of. And on the personnel were a lot of jazz players. They had Serge Chaloff, Buddy DeFranco and a number of other guys who were real, great, outstanding jazz players, young players. And i tried to get a record that they recorded, and I can't find one, just to hear it. But that was quite a unique thing that he created. I wonder if it was recorded?
AN: Oh yeah, he did record. 'Cause I tried getting a record of it. And I'm sure, maybe, someone in this world may have one somewhere up in the attic. But that was quite an orchestra, quite a unique, stop and and think of it for a minute, all reeds.
FB: And the upper-reeds would be playing the brass parts?
AN: Well, I think he would use -- I am only guessing -- I think he would use the clarinets for the trumpet parts, then the tenors and altos for their respective parts and a good swinging rhythm section.
FB: I like that. Well, it was Med Flory's Saxomania.
AN: Oh, many years before that.
FB: I know that, but I mean it is possible to stick with an enhanced reed sound as long as you've got enough top and bottom.
AN: But that was only five, it was strictly five reeds on the Charlie Parker hits.
FB: You're right. That's right.
AN: Just five saxes, the full voice. Which was good. And so on and so forth, things keep moving.
FB: Tell us a little bit more about your bands after the Jonah Jones era. Tell us how you got going with the Tijuana?
AN: Well, prior to the Tijuana, I just put an orchestra together. There was a club in Boston called the Mayfair Club and I knew one of the fellows that had money invested in it and called my attention to it and he had me audition for it. I had a six-piece band. And it was a beautiful night club. It had this rolling roof in the summer time, the roof would roll open.
FB: Marvellous. Where was this?
AN: It was across from the Latin Quarter in the District Theatre, which was then called the theatre district, in Back Bay. And my piano player was just starting out in the business, young kid from Chelsea by the name of Chick Corea. What can I say about him now? He's done so well.
FB: Tell us with your experience with him as a kid.
AN: Well Chick, of course you know, came from an excellent musical family.
FB: Armando is a great brass man.
AN: His father, Armando, was a great trumpet player and also a great bass player. And Armando's brother was also a trumpet player. And they worked together a lot in the various orchestras and in the night clubs. So Chick was very fortunate to have a good musical background, family history of music. But he was such a bright boy, you could see, "This kid is going to go somewhere."
FB: He was what, sixteen?
AN: Just about, yeah. Sixteen, seventeen. Full of vim and vinegar. "Yeah, let's go!" In fact we played shows at the Mayfair and between shows we would take a rest period, but he and the drummer, Joe Cocuzzo, they didn't get off the stand. They stayed there and they played in between what they wanted to play so that played jazz. I didn't bother them. "Go right ahead." So they had a good time playing jazz 'cause that's all Chick wanted to play. He just stayed with me because he needed a job to get going in music.
FB: But they were playing in front of the public?
AN: Oh, yeah.
FB: The piano and drum were just doing their thing between sets?
AN: That's correct.
FB: Excess energy.
AN: And we played shows, one of the acts we played was Cab Calloway. I got photos of that, I meant to bring them in. And we played for Cab Calloway, he was there for two weeks. He was happy with us. And we had some good names that came in there that we played their music for them. What else?
FB: Who else did you work with at The Mayfair or other clubs with that group?
AN: Well, we just did The Mayfair. And then from there as time goes on that's when I think I went into the Tijuana music. I emulated Herb Alpert and I had some great players with me: I had Paul Fontaine playing trumpet for me; a young guitar player by the name of John Abercrombie.
FB: He was a Berklee student.
AN: He was a Berklee student at the time, that's correct. And John was a wonderful guy, young fellow. And again the same as Chick Corea, just wanted to play, enjoyed every second. And what I would do with the Tijuana Brass music, I would play the melody that the people were familiar with, copy the record and play it that way, but then as I had them dancing, I would open it up. I would have Paul blow on it, then I'd have John play on it. So I would expand it, once you get the people dancing, they're going.
FB: This band was so popular that it had a whole bunch of hits with a whole bunch of memorable hooky tunes [sings a horn line].
AN: That's right.
FB: All that stuff.
AN: Tijuana and all that ...