Gary James' Interview With Pat Senatore Of
Herb Alpert And The Tijuana Brass
In 1965, they were one of the highest paid touring / recording acts. They won six Grammy Awards, had fifteen Gold albums, fourteen of which went Platinum. To show you how popular this band was, in 1966, they sold over 13 million records, outselling The Beatles! Also in 1966, The Guiness Book Of World Records reported they set a new record by placing five albums simultaneously on the Top 20 of the Billboard Pop LP Chart, an accomplishment that has never been duplicated! In April of 1966, four of those albums were in the Top 10 simultaneously. The Band we are talking about is Herb Alpert And The Tijuana Brass. Playing bass for The Tijuana Brass was Mr. Pat Senatore. Pat Senatore talked with us about his days with Herb Alpert And The Tijuana Brass and what he's doing these days.
Q - I saw Herb Alpert And The Tijuana Brass at the Syracuse War Memorial on August 16th, 1966. The cost of a ticket was $3.50. Were you in the band then?
A - I was there. Actually, my birthday is August 19th, so it was three days before my birthday. Normally we're in Toronto around my birthday. I spent all my birthdays in Toronto at The Royal York Hotel. We played some big auditorium in Toronto. I forget the name. So, we probably went from Syracuse to Toronto or maybe something in between to Toronto.
Q - The opening act was Sergio Mendes And Brazil '66.
A - Well, that was the only act, believe it or not, that could hold the people. They'd go crazy no matter who we had. They'd just start screaming. They didn't want to hear anybody but The Tijuana Brass. It was really very discouraging for the acts. Sergio they liked. As a result, Herb married the lead singer who was Lani Hall. She was the voice of the group and they've been married now for 35 years.
Q - After the show, I recall seeing an 18 foot truck backed up against the stage door. Was that for both groups' equipment?
A - Yeah, pretty much, 'cause we didn't have a lot of backline. It was just our instruments. Probably that one truck could handle it all. It might've been some sound equipment. We had a guy that would only go out on the road with Frank Sinatra and us. He was from San Francisco, an unbelievable 'live' sound reproduction guy. He loved traveling with us because he loved to have the chicks (laughs), so he'd come to hang out. He'd never go out with anybody else. He'd always send somebody else from his staff. He would personally come with us and Frank Sinatra and that was it.
Q - He loved having the "chicks". So, you guys got a lot of "groupies", did you?
A - Well, believe it or not, Herb always had his wife with him, so that was a no show. He never got involved with chicks 'cause she was with him and we didn't get any overflow there. We had to work hard. And the thing was, as far as trying to pull chicks from the concert, most chicks would come with a date. There were very few single chicks there. By the time we finished our concert and got changed, they were all gone. So the way we would find chicks is if maybe they hung around our hotel or we went out someplace looking for places to jam, we'd run into some chicks and that's how we pulled the chicks, man. But we didn't get any help from Herb at all. In the beginning it was a little different. The first year it was party night every night. Herb didn't bring his wife. But after that, he started bringing his wife and the whole thing changed. He was a non-entity, man.
Q - You said he married Lani Hall 35 years ago, right?
A - Right.
Q - He was married before that?
A - Exactly. His wife, they were high school sweethearts. He'd depend on her for watching the show and saying, "You should do this" or "You should do that." They were inseparable until he met Lani and they fell in love instantly. The unfortunate part is, we were all very close to his first wife, all the guys in the band. They finally got divorced. They had probably grown apart. They had been high school sweethearts. They went through all the rough times together. When he finally made it, they started drifting apart. That was the result. They got divorced and he married Lani.
Q - In 1966, I don't think you used tour buses. It wasn't a common thing. So, how did you get from gig to gig? Did you take a limo from the venue to the hotel and fly to the next gig?
A - Yeah. In the beginning we'd go commercial, but then we had a charter flight. That was a funny scene because in Europe we had Air France. They had provision for like 200 people or something like that. There were maybe 20 to 40 people in our entourage, maybe less than that. So, they'd come out with all this food, these big baguette sandwiches and cognacs, and they're begging us, "Take this with you." That was part of the deal. They provided all that stuff. They had provisions for all those people. I'd go to the hotel with like three bottles of cognac, a couple of bottles of scotch and a whole bunch of sandwiches in my room alone. Each guy had all of that and we'd just leave it there for the help 'cause we couldn't use all that stuff for ourselves. What were you gonna do with it?
Q - You could've had a party in your room.
A - Yeah, well again, if you have one chick you're lucky. That was about where the parties went except when we got to Australia. That was another whole story. We had a couple of Herb's managers, one guy was a drag. He just took pictures. And the guy ended up being a producer. The other guy liked the chicks too, so he'd just round up chicks for us. When we were in Australia, we went to this show, it was like a chorus line of chicks, all beautiful. He invited the whole line to our hotel for a party. There were about twenty of 'em and six guys in the band. (laughs) I picked this one I wanted and went back to my room. That was it. All those other chicks are, "What are we gonna do now?" That was it. That was the end of the party. This guy would help us. He would find chicks for us. He was able to do that because he wasn't on stage.
Q - I guess that was one of the requirements of being a manager of a band back in the 1960s, find chicks for the band! But who was taking care of business?
A - As far as we were concerned, we didn't give a damn what he did as long as he got us the chicks, man. Actually, when they were on the road, there wasn't much they had to do, other than collect the monies. When that was over, they were in there partying with us, except one partner was a drag. We would always say, "We don't want him." Mace Newfield was the guy we didn't like. He became a big, big director. The other guy was the guy we dug because he was more into hangin' out with us and partying with us. You're bringin' me back fifty years.
Q - That's what I like to do. That's what I want to do. I just did an interview with Fred Radke, the musical director for the Harry James Orchestra...
A - Originally, they guy with Harry James was Sal Monte, who was our road manager and this guy was amazing. He booked all the hotels, all the flights. He was very, very efficient, very experienced at doing that. He was marvelous. Herb loved him. He took care of all of that stuff for us. Anything that had to be done with the technical part of the stuff or the hotel accommodations. All that stuff he handled. It was very well done. But he was originally with Harry James when Harry James was alive of course.
Q - Someone from Harry James was with Herb Alpert in a limousine, and the people were just knocking on the limo windows and Herb asked, "Is it going to be like this all the time?" And the guy's answer was, "Yes. Get used to it."
A - Our first big concert was at the Allentown State Fair. Up until that time, we did a few little, small gigs. This was a massive audience, maybe 30,000 people. We're casually walking to get into our limo to take us to our hotel after the concert. It was an afternoon concert. All of a sudden these people start running after us. We didn't know what the hell to do. We ran and got into the limo. Six of us are in the back seat because we just jumped in. That was the fastest thing we could do. The limo was surrounded by people and they were like rockin' the limo. The driver couldn't get in because these people were all there. We're really getting claustrophobia in the back, but that never happened again. After that, they always made provisions and snuck us out. One time we did Forest Hill, where they do the tennis matches, they took us out in a laundry truck. We were actually sitting on bags of laundry. That was a way of getting us out of there without people mobbing us. We said, "Man, something's wrong with this picture." (laughs) They always found a way to sneak us out without getting mobbed. After that first incident, it scared the hell out of me.
Q - What you've described is the type of reaction that was given to the British Invasion groups. Had these fans been able to get close enough, what is it they wanted from you? Pull your hair out?
A - Just to feel your presence. We didn't have any of that violent stuff. Our audience is a little more mature and a little more reserved. Even the young people weren't the Rock 'n' Roll crazies that were all stoned out. It was a different kind of audience. It really was a square audience to be honest. We had this lady and man and they weren't young. They were in their 60s or more. They used to follow us. If we played say in Syracuse, they'd be there and the next gig might be who knows, in Pennsylvania somewhere. We'd fly there. They'd drive maybe 400 to 500 miles a night to make our next concert, the whole tour that we were on. We'd see them. They'd show up at every concert and there they were, right backstage, not backstage but whatever areas they could get close to us. They became really big fans. After seeing 'em so much, I kind of got friendly with both of 'em. They were really nice people. They were from Illinois. He had a gas station. He probably had some money. They weren't overly wealthy, but they had some money. They'd do our whole tour with us. They'd drive from one town to the next. Of course, we'd fly and get there in an hour and they'd drive all day long into the evening just to get there in time for our concert.
Q - Herb should have rewarded them with the title President of the Herb Alpert And The Tijuana Brass Fan Club.
A - (laughs). They would have loved that. But Herb didn't get too involved with people at all and still to this day he's a real private guy. He doesn't get too involved with any of that stuff. Even at Vibrato (Herb Alpert's Vibrato Grill), a whole year we didn't see him there. Now, he might come once every two or three months. He gets there at 6:30 and leaves by 8 o'clock. He's very private. He's into his own thing, his art, his painting, his playing. He's not one of those people who are looking for the limelight.
Q - He's had the limelight.
A - Exactly. It's not easy. There's a lot of pressure on you when you're in that position.
Q - Before you were with Herb Alpert, you were with Stan Kenton.
A - Right. Late '60, early '61. I was on the road for nine months with him. When we got back to Los Angeles after the tour, we did three albums at Capitol, in Studio A where Sinatra, Nat Cole and all these people recorded. But I was a kid. I was like 25. I didn't realize the magnitude of it. As a result, my first son was born and he was six days old when I saw him because the tour didn't end. We only had six days left, so I said I might as well finish the tour. So, I named him Kenton after Stan. Stan gave me a twenty-five dollar War Bond. My son became one of the top skate boarders in the world. He lives in Hawaii now. He's a surfer. He makes surf boards for a living. He's one of the best in Hawaii. My other son, I named him after Scott Lafaro. He was with Bill Evans. He was my idol. He took me to a different place. Nobody was playing the way he played at that point. He just took it and made it more of a solo instrument rather than just a rhythm instrument. He's world renowned. Scott was very influential on all bass players. He was awesome. I almost stopped playing when I heard him play. (laughs) I said I'll never be able to play his way. But today, because of guys like him, the level is much higher and the bass has been liberated to more than just being a rhythm instrument. It's now become another voice in the band, especially in a trio's format.
Q - In early recordings, I'm not talking about The Tijuana Brass, you had to strain to hear the bass. Now the bass is a stand-out instrument.
A - Exactly. It's come a long way. When I first started, there were no amplifiers. When I was in Stan Kenton's band, I didn't have an amplifier. It was twenty pieces, man. There were five mellophoniums, five trumpets, five saxophones, five trombones, me and the drummer. Stan didn't play much. He hardly played at all, piano. So it was mostly bass and the drums that were the rhythm section. And again, I didn't have an amplifier, so I just put a mic in front of the bass and the bass was heard pretty much. Hard Jazz groups that you'd play with a loud drummer, I'd have blood blisters under my fingers after maybe one set and I'd have to bite the blister to let the blood out and peel all that skin away 'cause it was dead skin. After you had the blister, it would be all tender new skin underneath there and I'd play on that tender skin and get that hard again, but it was literally painful to play every night. Then of course amplifiers came out and changed everything. You play loud, I'll play louder than you! (laughs) You turn it up! It gave us a little more strength to fight those loud drummers.
Q - I know Herb Alpert hand picked the guys in The Tijuana Brass.
A - Right.
Q - When he came calling, I don't know if he saw you in a club, I think he did, was it a big deal for you to be asked by Herb Alpert to be a part of his band? Had you heard his records before?
A - To be completely honest with you, I hadn't heard the records because again, I was listening to guys like Scotty LaFaro, the Jazz guys. His music was more Pop music. What happened is, I met him in 1960. I moved from Newark, New Jersey, which is nine miles from New York City, and I moved to California. Our union was very strict at the time. You couldn't transfer your union card from Newark to wherever you were going without establishing residence, because those guys would come in and work for a couple of months and decide they didn't want to stay here (California) and split. So, if you wanted to come here and work, you had to establish residence. For six months you couldn't work. So, I came here and put my union card in. I had had a record shop back East as a kid. Me and my buddy had a record shop. I knew the record business. I had just gotten married to my first wife and I needed to find a way to make a living, so I got this job at Wallichs Music City. Clyde Wallichs was the owner of Capitol Records and Music City was on the corner of Sunset and Vine. It was a large music store that had an unbelievable catalog of records. They sold TVs, musical instruments. I was a record salesman, then became a manager because I knew about the record business. Clyde Wallichs said to me, "How would you like to be Night Manager?" I said, "Sure." In any case, Herb used to come in there all the time and he'd buy sheet music, all the Top Ten tunes. You sold sheet music in those days. I said to him one time, "Are you a musician?" He said, "Yeah, I'm a trumpet player." I said, "Well, I'm a bass player. If you ever need a bass player, give me a call." So, five years later he already had two or three albums, or four albums I think it was, that he did with studio men. There was no Tijuana Brass. That was just a name. So, he decided he had to put a group together to tour because everybody wanted to know who this Tijuana Brass was. So, he came into this club one night and I was playing with Nick Coroli, the drummer we were playing with, and strangely enough, Anne Richards, who was an ex-wife of Stan Kenton. We were playing in this club and he said, "Hey man, I'm starting a group up." I just treated it lightly. I heard this before. So he said, "I'm gonna give you a call." I said, "Okay, fine," and I just went out looking for chicks. (laughs) About two days later he calls me up to his office and he played the record for me. He said, "Can you play this stuff?" I said, "Yeah." It was nothing that complex. At the time I was working at The Coconut Grove in L.A., which was a big night spot. Big acts like Nat King Cole and all the comedians would perform there. Scale was $142 a week, for six nights a week. He said, "I'm starting this group and I'm paying $100 a rehearsal." I said, "You've got a bass player." So that was it. That's how it started. I'd met him in 1960 and I don't even know if he remembered me. He called me, but when he was looking for guys, he knew of our reputations. By that time I was in town for five years and I already had built up a reputation. I was playing with Les Brown's band. I was doing The Dean Martin Show, Bob Hope Show. Went to Vietnam with Bob Hope in 1964 to play for the troops. I built up somewhat of a reputation. So, he knew about me and liked what he heard obviously and called me. Each guy was hand-picked. He picked each guy knowing what they could bring to the group.
Q - People might have a hard time today understanding just how popular Herb Alpert And The Tijuana Brass were. You were around at the time of the British Invasion. There were no vocals in Herb Alpert's band, at least in the beginning. His trumpet did the singing.
A - Exactly. It was the only instrumental group that sold that amount of records. We were competing with The Beatles and people like that. We'd have the Top 3 albums out of the Top Ten. We even surpassed The Beatles in sales at that time. Again, it was all instrumental, which was a phenomenon because there were never that kind of sales with instrumentals. People related to singers like Sinatra, people like that who were big sellers.
Q - And the success of The Tijuana Brass has never been repeated to this day.
A - Exactly.
Q - But there should be a group like that.
A - The problem today is there's no record business. In those days you could sell records. That's the reason why we toured. When we'd hit a town, the record sales would skyrocket the next day. He had a group, among other reasons, to help record sales. Personal appearances will always sell records, but today there's no record business, so even if there was a group that had that kind of potential, there are no sales. There are no record stores. Everything is online. It's a whole different business now. Even Herb, with his new albums, doesn't sell. I get this every night at the club (Herb Alpert's club), anybody under forty, they come in there and talk to me and I say, "This is Herb Alpert's place." There's this big silence. They have no idea who Herb Alpert is. "Don't you know The Tijuana Brass?" They have no idea or else they'll say, "Yeah, well my grandfather has the records. Our father has the records." Most young kids have no idea who Herb Alpert is. He's gotten so many awards. He's just gotten a medal from President Obama for taking people in the Arts. He got it for music. The reason he got it was more for The Tijuana Brass.
Q - You guys actually met The Beatles at Brian Epstein's home in London. You met everybody but John?
A - No. Everybody was there but Paul. Ringo and George were there. It was wall to wall people there. Strangely enough I got somewhere close to George. He was my favorite of the group anyway. We hung out. I said to him, "I heard Ringo could roll a joint with one hand." He said, "I don't know what you mean, mate.". He pulls this beautiful gold roach clip out of his pocket and he's twirling it in his hand and we're looking at each other, laughing. Actually, we got interviewed by BBC. They did a special on Herb, but they came to my house here (in California) and the remaining guys that were still alive in the band and they interviewed us and I told them that story off camera. He said, "No, no. You gotta tell this on camera." I said, "Are you sure?" He said, "Yeah. We gotta have it on camera." So, I told that story on camera for the BBC. George was a sweetheart. I really dug him. He was, in my estimation, the most musical of all the guys. When he got into the Indian thing, the Indian culture with the sitar, he just went deeply into another space. I even asked him, "Why don't they record more of your tunes? I think they're the greatest." He said, "Well, they didn't think they were commercial enough." John and Paul had all the commercial tunes, but as far as I'm concerned, George was deeper. He was really more musical than both of them, really stretching instead of just doing the Pop stuff.
Q - Did you like John?
A - I liked John. I liked Paul too. Paul was a little bit of an egomaniac. He wasn't there at the party because they were fighting. He wasn't hanging with them. He was in Switzerland or someplace like that, skiing. I know there was friction at that time because he was kind of a dominating guy. John was deep. I liked John. Ringo was a mediocre drummer. He was lucky to be there, but he was a nice cat. He had his persona. A lot of times on records they used different drummers. That's what I heard anyway.
Q - In the beginning.
A - Yeah.
Q - Had you brought in another drummer into the Beatles who was technically proficient, the whole sound of the band would have changed.
A - Exactly. It was very simple. That worked perfectly. If you had a drummer that was too complex it wouldn't have the simplicity that really made it so special. But the real brains behind the group was George Martin, the producer. He really brought the best out of those guys. I mean, that music will obviously live on forever. It's like Sinatra or somebody like that. It was unbelievable.
Q - Did you meet Brian Epstein?
A - Yeah, briefly. There were wall-to-wall people in his apartment. It was hard to socialize. I was fortunate that I was in an area where George happened to be. It was perfect for me. I was satisfied with that. I wasn't going further. I didn't get to talk to John or Ringo. I talked to George because he was closer to me physically there. As far as Brian, I don't think I got to speak to him at all, other than hello.
Q - You guys also performed for LBJ. Was he a fan of the group?
A - I don't know. The connection there was he was honoring the Presidents of Mexico. We were the logical choice for a lot of reasons because our music was supposed to be Mariachi and Mexican. It was an event where he was honoring him. Actually, he was a bore. Hubert Humphrey was that guy who saved his ass. Hubert was more personable and took care of all the social kind of stuff. In fact, Lyndon Johnson was there for a short while. He split and went to sleep or what ever. Ladybird and the daughters kept the social part of the party happening. They sent me a Christmas card that year. I was on the Christmas card list for The White House, but that was many moons ago. (Laughs)
Q - Herb Alpert was the arranger, producer, and leader of the band. Is he what you would call a "control freak"?
A - He wasn't a control freak in that respect. We would go in and do a record date. We just had what you would call rhythm charts, chord sheets. We just played the rhythm charts. Sometimes he would play a little trumpet just to give us an idea what the melody of the tunes were. We'd do the albums in one night, one take most of them. Then he'd take six months or more and just put the trumpets on and play all the trumpet parts himself. Sometimes people would think it's two trumpets and it could have been four trumpets. Instead of one trombone, it could have been two or three trombones overdubbed. He'd hear a little space and he'd say, "I hear a tambourine shaking here." Two or three months later or six months later, whenever he finished the album, we'd hear the album and say, "Is that it?" That's mostly with the original music, but the standards we did, we knew what they were when we were playing them, like "Getting Sentimental Over You" or "What Now My Love". We knew the tunes when we were playing the rhythm charts. A lot of the original music, we were playing the rhythm charts and we didn't have too much of an idea what the end result would be. But even the standards, we'd play our part and when he got finished with it, it would be a whole different thing. That was his forte. It was his thing. The whole thing was his right from the start. We were just part of it. We'd play our parts, but he was the one that was responsible for it, the end result and the success. It got to him after a while and that's when he finally decided to abandon the group, because of the pressure to keep coming up with hits. The truth is, he could've burped on a record and it would've been a hit. A lot of pressure. I'm under that pressure with my gig (Artistic Director For Herb Alpert's Vibrato Grill.) I have to find acts that can do that.
Q - I believe Herb Alpert suffered a nervous breakdown, didn't he?
A - He was on the verge. He was going to two psychiatrists at one time. He didn't believe one and he'd get a second opinion. That's when he started throwing his trumpet against the wall. He decided the pressure was too much. He just split and went to Rio for a little while and he said that was one of the most peaceful times he had in his life, where he didn't have to do anything. He was only there for a couple of weeks or so, but it was a nice, relaxing time for him. It enabled him to get himself together again.
Q - This is kind of a touchy question, but was Herb Alpert And The Tijuana Brass a real band in the sense that the profits were split equally among the members? Were you on a salary on the road? How about record royalties?
A - We were on salary and we didn't get any royalties and that's something I feel wasn't justified. But what happened was, when it first started, Herb's heart was in the right place. He said, "I'm going to give you guys 2% of A&M Records, each man." That would have been a phenomenal amount of money. The business people got together and said, "Listen man, are you kidding? Do you know what you're talking about?" They said, "They are musicians for hire. That's it. They get paid a salary. They don't get any royalties on the record." The salary was so much more than you could make as a musician, so who is going to say no? Of course we all did it, but it was wrong. I'm sure again, it wasn't Herb's intention. He is a pretty generous guy. He didn't want it to be that way, but it was business. That's how the lawyers advised him and that's what he did, unfortunately. It wasn't justified. We should all have been independently wealthy. But Herb has made it up to me in other ways. I've been with the Vibrato For 12 1/2 years. I get a pretty good salary there, plus I get a chance to play. That's been my passion, playing Jazz all these years and have my own Jazz club. He respected me enough to give me this position. Actually, I'm pretty much responsible for him having the club in the first place. I was on him from the time I closed my club in 1983. For about 10 years we had some conversations. He had a party at my club just before I closed it and he saw how well I handled the situation. When I kept insisting he open a Jazz club, finally this Vibrato thing became available and he hired me to run the music there. So again, he's been good to me in different ways. We should've all made a lot more money than we did, but it was his thing. He could've hired anybody and he was responsible for it all and even though we were a big part of it by playing in concerts and recording with him, it was still his thing. He could've used any bass player or drummer he wanted, and it would've been the same. Even though we did have a part musically, our musical personality was a part of the records we did with him. Again, if he didn't like it, he could just move on. He could get anybody else he wanted. In a lot of ways it was great, but in a lot of other ways we didn't get compensated the way we should have.
Q - Did that lead to tensions in the group?
A - Oh, sure.
Q - Guys in the group started fighting amongst each other.
A - Yeah. Well, you know more than a lot of people. What happened was, four of us starting investing together and that was a mistake. I didn't want to be a part of it. There was this sharp accountant guy that got involved with a couple of the guys. They didn't know anything about business and they thought he was really a dynamo, but the guy was a crook. It turned out they found that out later. Two of us wanted to be dis-involved with this whole thing. We went to an attorney. The only way we could do it was to sue them and get out of it. It got ugly. There were six guys in the band and two guys were not involved at all. The four of us that were involved, it was like two guys against the other two guys and it got ugly. Herb said, "I don't need this crap between all the pressure I;ve got and these guys are fighting." It wasn't that bad, but there was definitely conflict. It was because we started investing together. I didn't want to do it because I didn't trust this guy from the start. It turned out he wound up with an IRS guy at his house for two years going over all his records.
Q - Herb disbanded The Tijuana Brass in 1969 and then reformed the band in 1971. Were you part of the group then?
A - No, I wasn't. Actually, I think one or two guys were. That eventually fell apart and he started using different guys, so it was never the same. The groups he reformed were never like the or original group. He finally decided that that was enough with The Tijuana Brass. Even today, people want him to play when he performs, he's got a completely different group with his wife, they always want to hear The Tijuana Brass music. He doesn't want to play (it). He wants to move on, but he got so many requests for it, he did a little medley and changed the tunes. He's even recorded some of the tunes and they are completely different than the way they were. Obviously they are not the same.
Q - The music of Herb Alpert And The Tijuana Brass can bring you up and it can calm you at the same time.
A - Well, that's the thing. At the time, there was all this protest about the (Vietnam) War. This music was just happy music. I'd go shopping and that's all you heard in the stores. It put people in a happy frame of mind. That kind of was his secret. He found a way to take people out of that other realm where all the music was protest. This was happy music and very salable in that respect. People liked it because it put them in a good mood.
Q - And of course you would be waiting in a grocery line and someone would say, "I love Herb Alpert And The Tijuana Brass," and you would say, "I play bass for that group."
A - I still tell people that come into Herb's club and don't know what I did in the past, I'll say "I was the original bass player with The Tijuana Brass." "Let me take your picture!" Of course they are older people that know about it. The younger people have no idea what the hell that was.
Q - I think you sell yourself short when you say anybody could have been in the band. It was a perfect mix of musicians. The band was just right.
A - We were all Jazz musicians. This was kind of Pop music. It wasn't really what our ambition was. We wanted to play Jazz. So we approached every gig like we were playing for a Jazz audience. Our integrity was there in what we were doing. It wasn't the notes we were playing, the music we were playing. It was what we were putting into it. That's what the value was. That's why we were hand picked and that's why he never changed the group in the five years that we were there, because each guy had a certain thing he brought to the whole of the group. Maybe we do sell ourselves short. Maybe the people wanted it that way. He would maybe put our picture on the album and not our name or else he'd put our name and not our picture. He didn't want us to get too big in ourselves so that he would have the problem of "Now this guy is going to leave." He wanted to have a group that was together and stayed together. In spite of all the friction that finally started to happen, he still would never fire anybody. He Everybody together because that's what he wanted. He wanted us as a group. We all had our own personalities and we all did bring something to the group. Even though I have a tendency to always sell myself short, we were all a part of it. The same way with The Vibrato (Herb Alpert's nightclub). I'm there because he knows I can do the job. If I wasn't doing the job, I wouldn't be there. Herb has a loyalty to people. He doesn't fire people, but if you are a liability to him, he's obviously going to get rid of you. I feel honored that it's been all these years and we are still very close and he still respects me.
Q - The "big break" of Herb Alpert And The Tijuana Brass came after an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Were you on that show?
A - Yes. When we went out and did personal appearances, The Tijuana Brass was a reality, not just a name on a record. We all had our own individual fans and fans of the group of course. That's the thing he tried to suppress. He didn't want us to get too big in ourselves because he didn't want to have to deal with egos. So, that was something we had to deal with. It didn't bother me. I was happy to be there making the kind of money I was and obviously playing for all these people and all the honors that we got. It was great. At the time, we didn't realize how great it was until we started to feel we really were something special.