Monday, January 14, 2013
Bill Watrous - The Tiger of San Pedro (1975)
The second and final big band album that Watrous recorded for Columbia is very similar to the first in style and quality. Tiger of San Pedro opens with "Dirty Dan" a rock chart that is one of the weaker on the album but still showcases Watrous' ability to solo within a variety of styles. "Quiet Lady," is a personal favorite and is a medium tempo bossa nova. This track exemplifies the sensitivity with which Watrous plays in the upper register of his instrument. The band accompaniment is scarce throughout a lot of the track. The accompaniment is mostly chordal building to suspensions. The title track "The Tiger of San Pedro" is an uptempo Latin chart showcasing the tightness of the ensemble. Danny Stiles, Watrous' long time lead trumpet gives a dazzling scale based solo into the upper register and Watrous himself shows off another one of his strengths, fast tonguing. "Somewhere Along the Way" is a gorgeous ballad and definitely one of the highlights of the album. Watrous can play fast, but it is on ballads where his tone is really brought to the fore. "T.S., T.S." is another rock chart. It's not that the rock charts are terrible, they just aren't as strong as a lot of the other material on the album. "Passion at Three O'Clock" is a good example of how a soprano sax (played here by Ed Xiques) can really add a lot to a big band, not only in sax solis but as a solo instrument. This track is probably one of the most nuanced tracks on the album and the one that develops the most. The album closes with "Sweet Georgia Upside Down," is a sort of "reworked" version of "Sweet Georgia Brown," and is a great uptempo close to the album. It's a shame that this album can be so hard to find as it wasn't released in a digital format until 2007 and then only stayed in print for a short period of time.