While jazz isn’t as popular and mainstream as it once was, there have been times when the genre crossed over into other genres to reach more listeners. The same happened with this song composed by Viva Tirado.
While many may be more familiar with the version done by the LA-based brown-eyed soul band, El Chicano, many may not know the original version of the song was a big band composition written by legendary, prolific composer Gerald Wilson. Any jazz artist you can name, Wilson composed for, from Duke Ellington to Ray Charles to Billie Holiday.
Many of Wilson’s compositions blend Latin jazz and jazz elements. This was often an homage to his wife’s Mexican American heritage. His most well-known song sampling this combination is “Viva Tirado”.
On the lead track from his 1962 album Moment of Truth, the Latin elements of “Viva Tirado” are immediately recognizable (Another version of the song was recorded in 1967 for Wilson’s Live and Swinging — recorded live at an old LA jazz spot, Marty’s On The Hill.) If you listen closely, you may notice and hear the talented guitarist Joe Pass on the first and second guitar solos on the piece. Pass was a member of Wilson’s band during the mid-1960s.
Hopefully, you can appreciate this unique, colorful selection of big band jazz with a Latin flair. Now a century beyond the true ruling era of big bands, a band like this is hard to come by, and the sound, a precious art rarely reproduced.