🎵 AotW Classics Julius Wechter And The Baja Marimba Band FRESH AIR (SP-4200)

What are your two favorite tracks from this album?


  • Total voters
    19

Harry

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The first Baja Marimba Band album was reissued on CD by Pony Canyon in Japan as part of the 25th anniversary of A&M. You can see the logo on the obi.

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FRESH AIR got its first CD reissue as part of a "Finger Snapping Music" series by Universal Japan in 2006. Because two tracks on this album were arranged by Nick De Caro, it was reissued as an SHM-CD in 2012 as part of A&M's 50th and Nick De Caro's posthumous 20th.

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THOSE WERE THE DAYS was also included in the A&M 50th/Nick De Caro 20th series of SHM discs in 2012 as Nick was given arranger credit on the LP. The SHM discs were in mini-LP form cardboard jackets, that even had authentic A&M mini innersleeves

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Bobberman

Well-Known Member
The first Baja Marimba Band album was reissued on CD by Pony Canyon in Japan as part of the 25th anniversary of A&M. You can see the logo on the obi.

View attachment 7156

FRESH AIR got its first CD reissue as part of a "Finger Snapping Music" series by Universal Japan in 2006. Because two tracks on this album were arranged by Nick De Caro, it was reissued as an SHM-CD in 2012 as part of A&M's 50th and Nick De Caro's posthumous 20th.

View attachment 7157

THOSE WERE THE DAYS was also included in the A&M 50th/Nick De Caro 20th series of SHM discs in 2012 as Nick was given arranger credit on the LP. The SHM discs were in mini-LP form cardboard jackets, that even had authentic A&M mini innersleeves

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Those look Beautiful you were very fortunate to get these The First one is already an extreme rarity on any format ( vinyl and tapes let alone CD) some albums are more easily found than others I seen Watch out Heads up and Fowl play more often than all the others.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
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I seen Watch out Heads up and Fowl play more often than all the others.
Watch Out I believe was either the best selling title, or the highest charting, of their albums. (I can't remember where I read that, as it was a while ago.) Still, popular as those three albums were, those arguably made more sense to release than the later albums.
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
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Year 1969 was an artistic triumph for the BMB.

Just as the TjB had its 1965-66 5-star 3-LP run of !!Going Places!!, What Now My Love, and culminating with S-R-O arguably representing the TjB at their comprehensive artistic peak, the BMB had its 1968-69 5-star 3-LP run of Do You Know the Way to San Jose?, Those Were The Days, and culminating with Fresh Air -- with the latter perhaps representing their comprehensive artistic peak.

The ensemble continues to grow following the milestone San Jose sessions. Indeed one of the more noteworthy aspects of the new LP is hearing both DeVito’s drumming and Mel’s electric bass guitar opening up with increasingly imaginative embellishments, particularly in the intra section releases and turnarounds. The two play together in tandem tight (never stiff), loose (never sloppy), and nimble (never weighty): Polland—DeVito in tandem have never been in finer form than on this LP. Also notable is the presence of organ (still wish we knew who the organist was), which occupies a musical space on equal terms with the group. As an ensemble, the BMB is truly that: there is no central point of musical source, rather it is truly a jelling of all instrumental contributions. Hand it to Julius: he orchestrates his marimba (and vibes) in such a manner as to not dominate, but rather to contribute to the good of the whole. I’ve always felt that above all else, the principal musical hallmark that one takes away from these latter BMB LPs is how much the group’s musical success is attributed to the creative blend resulting from the sum of all the musical parts.

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The Cover…
This cover may take the BMB cake. The parody of The Beat Of the Brass’ tux-in-the-mustard-plant-field for a tux-in-the-pig-pen is too obvious to ignore…and those top hats put it over the top. No cheap airbrushing going on here: the BMB + Unnamed Guy were in the pigpen with the pigs… Which means...once a suit is soiled...it’s over (unless, of course, they wanted those types of photos).

Which makes one wonder what the cleaning deposit was to the rent-a-tux joint. One can only imagine the initial phone call inquiry:

A photo shoot huh. What? For a rock band! In a pig pen with the pigs!! You gotta be kiddin’ me? They’re not gonna ruin my suits are they!?!? Oh, they’re not a rock band — then just what are they then? Yeah, I heard of 'em. And the other half are goys so that don’t mean nothin’ if you’re gonna ruin my suits with the pigs. Look, why don’t you just find a nice park somewhere to take a picture? I mean, why the pigs? What’s that? Oh! Herb Alpert! Oh, well, Yes! Of course…yeah I got it so’s you can knock it off with the spiel. Whaat! Top hats too? Oy vey! You guys do some strange things. What? No! I don’t want my name on no picture with the pigs.

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The Songs and Performances…
  • Cielito Lindo: The musical set-up for this is something else. The muscular intro — with DeVito playing on each down beat and that Like-A-Rolling-Stone organ — offered the most bonafide straight-up rock yet on a BMB number…and then we hear marimbas deliver Cielito Lindo (of all things). I mean, Oh, good grief! Sometimes I forget how nearly absurd it all can be in the BMB world! But wait, there’s more: Check out how they blast the bridge in a quick 6/8. That ending trombone splat surely slams the door on this one.
  • Wave: It’s easy to forget just how gifted an instrumentalist Bernie is. While his flute helped to define the BMB sound, and his earthy clarinet was always on-point when they flipped the trad/klezmer switch; to date, I can’t ever recall him taking a sax solo. All the more why Wave is notable, and to that end the twin altos are actually reminiscent of Phil Bodner’s The Brass Ring (probably the best of the TjB knock-offs — though, given they were all NYC sessionmen, they just didn’t have sunny Califor-ni-a in their musical DNA). I hear sweetening strings — something Julius rarely if ever added to a BMB LP, which may suggest it was Allen’s idea The coda is notable for its "& 1 & 2 & 3 & 4" arco strings on the upbeat — a musical idea previously used to great effect on Roger Nichols’ I Can See Only You. A+
  • I’ll Marimba You: As presented live on coast-to-coast TV back in 1969, this was a Julius vs. Curry marimba duel. Together with the piece, Fresh Air, they form a one-two pinch in the festive department. Fun, spirited songs and performances were a hallmark of the TjB’s glory days: songs like El Garbanzo, Cinco De Mayo, Freckles and Bean Bag could transform the sourest of grapes into decent Two Buck Chuck as it were. With I’ll Marimba You and Fresh Air, BMB accomplishes that heavenly goal. Listen to how Mel breaks up each fragment block during the solo vamp with his smooth and inventive bass transitions. A+
  • I Don’t want to Walk Without You: No doubt inspired by Herb’s million seller vocal, the gentle sway of this piece is more likable given its folksy, effortless delivery. The BMB horns creeping in on the bridge is priceless. A+
  • Fresh Air: Julius manages to have lightening strike twice with two timelessly joyful songs on the LP. Even Sergio tried his hand at such exuberant offerings by arranging the wonderful Tristeza (on Look Around). Note the half-time back-beat. The organ is hip on the transitions. A+

  • Eleanor Rigby: This arrangement is so '60s that you’ll probably want to pop an ice-cold Fresca. Man, Mel is all over this. His electric bass is light years beyond pedestrian root-V stuff with melodic nuances suggesting he’s up with John Entwistle’s or Paul McCartney’s pacesetting playing. I like hearing Lee’s bright and shimmering tone slurring up to that D over high C — particularly the 2nd time where he slightly overshoots it! A+
  • The Windmills of Your Mind: Julius always manages to give us some tasty vibes on each LP and windmills doesn’t disappoint; however, its the bossa-esque rhythm guitar and uiltracool bone solo that put this in the time capsule. More tastefully scored strings are heard. A+
  • Samba Nuevo: More organ! Julius' third original is a fascinating and memorable disjointed affair the recalls soundtrack music. Great fade — right out of the Walter Wanderley Verve book. A+
  • Here: Dave McKay’s marvellous 10/8 composition. This may be its debut recording. Check out the original (sung in unison with both his wife, and tenor saxophonist Ira Schulman). Again: strings on a BMB LP? Julius really scores them with grace. I diagram this mid-tempo ballad: AB AB’ [8+8 8+12]. A+
  • Madagascar: Hey, Bernie give us a piece! Great closer — and a great way to end the 1960s. Perfecto! A+
Fresh Air has the distinction of exhibiting every song as someone’s favourite (no small feat given the limited voting pool), which does well to validate the consistently high song-to-song quality. No filler. No throwaways. In fact, the only complaint is the chintzy 26-minute running time. One could argue the merits of including Picasso Summer; Can You Dig It?; Man, That’s Coffee; or Hey, Jude. In hindsite, however, I’m glad they didn’t add any of those performances as most are out-of-sync with the LP (if that’s possible…this is the BMB after all). Leave them wanting more should always be the goal of any LP.

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Fresh Air was the third consecutive 5-star effort from the BMB — and the third of four solid LPs that represent the 1968-71 artistic peak of their A&M recording career. Few would argue that Julius and Allan Stanton reached their apex with this par excellence LP.

Unfortunately, this was the last BMB LP with the classic touring band lineup and the last with Stanton.

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Harry

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Do you suppose that both the TJB and the BMB were dressed in tuxes that day? Imagine the TJB standing way off in that yellow field to the left of the picture. I can just imagine it: :D

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bob knack

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Only ten tunes. They were "shaving the nut" and that wasn't a good sign for the future. They must have already spent a lot to pay the ork on Picasso Summer and at the very least that should have been included.
 

lj

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Perhaps this photo shoot is from September 1967 from the same A&M Family Portrait photo event held back then. The guys in the background are the TJB in tuxedos worn in the same landscape backdrop from '67 in the Family Portrait. Can any of you guys name the BMB musicians from left to right in this photo?
 

Harry

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Perhaps this photo shoot is from September 1967 from the same A&M Family Portrait photo event held back then. The guys in the background are the TJB in tuxedos worn in the same landscape backdrop from '67 in the Family Portrait. Can any of you guys name the BMB musicians from left to right in this photo?
You realize that I Photoshopped the TJB into that Baja photo? Look above for the same picture - you'll see just a yellow field.
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
You realize that I Photoshopped the TJB into that Baja photo? Look above for the same picture - you'll see just a yellow field.
A+ photoshop job!

Perhaps this photo shoot is from September 1967
All BMB photos can be date-approximated based on Frank DeCaro's sideburns: from 1966 to 1969 they continuously grow longer, wider, and bushier. Fresh Air is definitely from '69.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
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The complete Fresh Air album. This is an official Universal Music playlist upload.

 
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