Wendell Johnson's interview with Pat Senatore

Harry

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The following is an interview with Pat Senatore of the Tijuana Brass. It was conducted by the late Wendell Johnson and posted on his old Tijuana Brass Fan Club website, now defunct. We present it here both as a tribute to Wendell and for its relevence to the current Shout! Factory re-releases, for which cause Wendell was always a champion.

Wendell originally presented the interview split into two web-pages. We present them here with both introductions intact.

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The Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass Fan Club Presents...

An interview with Pat Senatore Part One


HerbAlpertTijuanaBrassFanClub4.jpg

I received an e-mail not too long ago from Alan Rockman. Alan is a Reference Librarian at the La Crescenta Library in La Crescenta, California. He told me he was in charge of Family Programming and had hired Pat Senatore and his trio in a brief concert at the Library. He had high praise for Pat and his group. I wrote him back asking if he had a way of getting in touch with Pat because I would like to interview him for this website.

Alan got in touch with Pat and Pat said it was all right for Alan to tell me how to get in touch with him. So I would first like to give a big THANK YOU to Alan Rockman for making this interview possible!!! This interview was very enjoyable and Pat had a lot of interesting things to tell. And like most interviews some of the best was after I had turned off the recorder that was taping the interview...lol. Like when he along with the Tijuana Brass first went to London, England and the Beatles manager Brian Epstein invited them to his house to meet the Beatles. When the Brass arrived Brian had the Beatles in another part of the house so the Beatles wouldn't appear to be waiting on the Tijuana Brass to show up. Brian called them in after the Brass arrived. Paul McCartney happen to not be there, but George, John and Ringo was. Pat enjoyed meeting George Harrison and had a conversation about why a lot of George's songs wasn't on a lot of the Beatles albums. George told him that his songs wasn't considered commercial enough. I guess that was before George wrote "Something."


Here is Part One of the Pat Senatore interview. I hope you enjoy it....

Wendell Johnson

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Wendell: How did you get started in music and what made you pick the bass as your instrument?

Pat: Well, I got started in music when I was about five years old. My father was a light operatic singer on the Italian stage around New York. He was one of the leading singers in that type of music. He always had an ambition to be a musician himself, but coming from Europe and being a poor immigrant he never studied.

As soon as I was old enough to show an interest in music he started me out taking violin lessons. I studied for five years then didn't play any music until I started high school. There I played baritone horn, trombone and then finally the bass in my senior year. Then I went to Julliard Music School on a scholarship for a couple of years. Then I decided to go on the road and get my feet wet in the music business and start my career.

Wendell: I heard that Carol Kaye gave you bass lessons. Was that for bass guitar?

Pat: Yeah, when I started with the Tijuana Brass I had never played the electric bass. I was an upright player, then I found myself in a situation where I was playing with one of the top groups in the world on an instrument that was comparatively new to me. So while I was with the Brass I continued to study electric bass on my own and with teachers.

There was a time when all the studio work in town on electric bass was being played with a pick because Carol Kaye was the top player and she was formerly a guitar player, so she played with a pick. Just about every bass player in LA that never had used a pick studied with her. And that's when I studied with her and she really had a good method and a lot of books she had written. And I learned a lot from her like the bass lines she wrote that was a whole lot more complicated than ones of the past. I also studied reading syncopations with her.

Wendell: Yeah, I'm a bass player and I've gone through a couple of her books. Her books are very good. What was the first big band you played with?

Pat: The first major big band I played with was Stan Kenton. I moved to California in 1960, previous to that I lived in New Jersey and I played with some lesser bands there that played stock arrangements. The first band I played with in LA was Eddie Grady & The Commanders and then in late 1960 I went on the road with Stan Kenton.

Wendell: Were you and Nick Ceroli good friends since both of you had played with Stan Kenton?

Pat: Well, actually we didn't play with Kenton at the same time. But we were pretty good friends and we were hired together at the same time by Herb Alpert. We worked in a club together with Ann Richards, a singer who was formerly married to Stan Kenton, and Herb came in one night and heard us play and mentioned that he was putting a band together. He had two to three successful albums where he used studio players and he decided to put a band together and that's how he hired Nick and I.

Wendell: Was that for the Crescendo Club gig in June of 1963?

Pat: No, that was after that. I was the house bass player with a pianist in a duo at the Crescendo Club that played in between the big acts like Ella Fitzgerald and so forth. Whenever an act needed a rhythm section we would supplement the duo and come up with whatever they needed.

I wasn't aware of the Tijuana Brass at that time. I was more into pure jazz type music. I was told this band of Herb Alpert's was going to appear at the Crescendo Club and was asked to play with them. I was told to wear just jeans and a T-shirt and I was furnished with Mexican clothing. So Herb Alpert put this band together just for this appearance and the people went crazy.

Wendell: Nick Ceroli played also on that gig?

Pat: Yeah, I believe he was the drummer on that gig. It was something like a one week engagement.

Sometime after that gig is when Herb asked me to join the band he was putting together definitely as the Tijuana Brass. He called me up into his office and played some records and asked if I could play the music.I said sure, it was simple to play.

I started out on upright bass, but Herb didn't think that was the right instrument for the band. So I tried an Ampeg Baby Bass. He liked that better, but I really wanted a Fender bass. I told Herb I really had no experience on it, but I would get one and work on it.

Wendell: It looked like you got a Fender Precision bass guitar. That's what it looked like to me because I have one also.

Pat: Yeah, I've had numerous real early Precisions. I had a 1958 that was really beautiful which was unfortunately stolen. But I got another one which I still play which is about as old.

Wendell: What was the first recording you played on with the Tijuana Brass?

Pat: Oh, I think "Going Places." That was the first album I did with the brass.

Wendell: Do you remember the first song you recorded from that album?

Pat: No. I couldn't tell you the first song I did on that album.

Wendell: What was it like working with Herb Alpert in the studio?

Pat: It was very relaxed. We would go in and put the rhythm section down first. Most the time we'd use the first take we did because it had the best feeling. But Herb would always do about three or four takes for insurance. But he would about 85% of the time use the first take.

Then he would put the trumpets on. Then fool around with it for weeks or months to get it like he wanted it. And he would maybe over dub other percussion instruments also.

Wendell: Herb supposedly played all the trumpet parts on the recordings. Did he ever let Tonni Kalash play on any of them?

Pat: Maybe, but very little. But mostly it was always him. What he would do to get that sound was that he would play the first trumpet then he would pull out the tuning slide of his trumpet a little and then play the second trumpet and that's how he got that mariachi sound.

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The Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass Fan Club Presents...

An interview with Pat Senatore Part Two

HerbAlpertTijuanaBrassFanClub4.jpg

Here is Part Two of the very interesting interview I had with Pat Senatore. Again I would like to thank Alan Rockman, Reference Librarian at the La Crescenta Library in La Crescenta, California. And also Pat Senatore for taking the time to let me interview him.
This second part of the interview is just as interesting as the first part. Pat tells how exciting it was to be part of one of the top bands of the 1960s.



Here is Part Two of the Pat Senatore interview. I hope you enjoy it....

Wendell Johnson

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Wendell: What was it like touring with the Tijuana Brass?

Pat: In the beginning it was great. The first year or so it was like one big happy family. Then things started to get old and dissension started to set in. And it began to be just a gig instead of a big party like it was in the beginning.

Wendell: Do you have any story or stories that would be of interest to tell about the your time with the Tijuana Brass?

Pat: There were so many, it is hard to pick one. When we first played somewhere not a lot of people knew about the group, and then our first major event we played at was the Arizona State Fair. And there was 20,000 people there. After the concert we nonchalantly walked out of the auditorium to the limo that was waiting for us and all of a sudden there was like 200 people following us. And we started running and we didn't know how act because this had never happen to us before. We all jumped into the limo and there was six of us sitting on each others laps in the back of this limo. And the driver couldn't get in because of all the people around the limo. And we started to get claustrophobic and finally the driver got through the crowd to get in the limo. There were people hanging all over the limo and it was frightening to see all this.

Wendell: I guess you thought you had become a Beatle in the movie "A Hard Day's Night?"

Pat: After that we had security that planned our way in and out of places. Like when we played in the Forest Hills of New York, everyone was looking for us in limos, but we were in the back of a laundry truck instead. As things went on security became tighter and tighter. We never had those problems again.

Wendell: Who was some of the musicians like Julius Wechter, Carol Kaye, Hal Blaine and Pete Jolly that played on the Tijuana Brass' recordings that wasn't in the original TJB band?

Pat: Julius was on all the recordings. Carol Kaye and Hal Blaine played on the recordings before the group was formed that I was a part of. After Herb formed the group we played on all the recordings. He may have supplemented the group on some recordings from time to time, but we were the musicians that he used first. He used other musicians for special over dubbing mostly.

Wendell: What was your favorite recording you did with the Tijuana Brass? Maybe "Five Minutes More" because you had a bass solo on that?

Pat: Yeah, maybe that or "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You." There was so many good songs we did and I can't remember them all and to pick your favorite one would be hard to do. There was one album where Herb was trying to get a little more jazzier like with "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You." Herb was trying to get a more 4/4 feel.

Wendell: Oh ok, Herb was trying to get more of a big band sound like with the song "And The Angels Sing?"

Pat: Yeah, he was trying to get more of a dixieland sound or swing era sound.

Wendell: Did you enjoy the TV specials you did with the Tijuana Brass?

Pat: Yes it was a fun experience, you know we met a lot of famous people who was guests on the shows like Louie Armstrong and Wes Montgomery. You know people of that caliber that were really nice people to be around. And were also idols of mine.

Wendell: I like the TV special that showed you and John Pisano had Beatle wigs on and was playing in a rock band.

Pat: (laughing) Yeah that was down at the Whiskey A Go Go.

Wendell: (laughing) And at the end you two started playing "Zorba The Greek."

Pat: Well, that was improvised. Herb just told us to play some rock and roll music, so John and I made up some music. We actually got writers credit on that because we just wrote it on the spot.

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This is the end of Part Two of the Pat Senatore interview. Be looking for the next part coming soon to the Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass Fan Club.

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Though Wendell mentioned "the next part", it never appeared on his site.

Thanks Wendell, wherever you are.

Harry
...preserving the past, online...
 
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Mike Blakesley

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This should put an end to the controversy about whether the TJB musicians played on the albums or not. I have a book with a quote from Herb, regarding the SOUNDS LIKE album where he says he would go into the studio with the "right musicians" to get the sound he wanted. From that, and from this:

He may have supplemented the group on some recordings from time to time, but we were the musicians that he used first. He used other musicians for special over dubbing mostly.

...we can conclude that the band members (well, except for Tonni Kalash, apparently) DID play on everything from GOING PLACES on, with the occasional minor exception (Pete Jolly on "This Guy," for example).

Thanks for posting this, Harry. I'd read it before but it's nice to read again.
 
Hal Blaine did play a couple songs on "Going Places". Hal is doing the brush work on "The Angels Sing" and I think Sentimental and Third Man Theme. I can check the last two out. Later.......Jay
 

Mike Blakesley

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Somewhere (maybe the liner notes of GP reissue) Herb talks about having two drummers and multiple guitar players to get that wall-of-sound on Third Man Theme.

I'd bet there was some overlap too -- songs recorded for GP before the band was fully in place.

Hard to believe all the activity that took place in just 4 years -- 1965-1968. Pretty much a band's whole career. Nowadays it's that long between albums for most "artists."
 

Captain Bacardi

Well-Known Member
Moderator
Jay Maynes/Juan Oskar said:
Hal Blaine did play a couple songs on "Going Places". Hal is doing the brush work on "The Angels Sing" and I think Sentimental and Third Man Theme. I can check the last two out. Later.......Jay

When I talked to Hal a few years ago he said he played on "Getting Sentimental", "Mae", 3rd Man Theme", "Walk, Don't Run" and "Angels Sing".


Capt. Bacardi
 

Numero Cinco

New Member
Great interview, Harry. Many thanks for reposting.

Senatore, on Alpert: What he would do to get that sound was that he would play the first trumpet then he would pull out the tuning slide of his trumpet a little and then play the second trumpet and that's how he got that mariachi sound.

Can the trumpeters on this site help me better understand this explanation? I always thought the mariachi sound was created by playing in thirds. This explanation, however, suggests that playing out of tune made the difference.
 

Captain Bacardi

Well-Known Member
Moderator
It's not really all that out of tune, just a hair sharper or flatter than the first recorded trumpet. Just enough to get the dial on the tuner to move a bit. He still played in thirds many times, but with this technique it made it sound like two different trumpeters instead of one guy overdubbing. Even when the two overdubbed trumpets played unison lines there was just a slight difference in pitch. It was subtle.


Capt. Bacardi
 

alpertfan

Well-Known Member
I remember this interview. I think I may have quoted parts of it in past posts. Mr. Johnson's site was wonderful, and I was excited to read this interview when it appeared. It does answer many FAQs about the group.

If only other TJB members came forward with their stories...John Pisano talks about how he got into the group on his website. He surmises that it was either Tommy Tedesco, Bud Coleman or a man named, Nick Bonney who played guitar and mandolin on the pre-GOING PLACES albums.

Thanks for posting the interview. :bandit:
 

Numero Cinco

New Member
Capt. B.: He still played in thirds many times, but with this technique it made it sound like two different trumpeters instead of one guy overdubbing. Even when the two overdubbed trumpets played unison lines there was just a slight difference in pitch. It was subtle.

I'd say! Thanks for the explanation, Captain.
 

Dave

Well-Known Member
Definitely an "In-Depth Interview" you'd expect to see a Professional Musical Journalist do! Thanks for accomplishing this and sharing it with us, Wendell! :thumbsup:

And thank you, Harry for posting! :)


Dave
 

Captaindave

Well-Known Member
Numero Cinco said:
Great interview, Harry. Many thanks for reposting.

Senatore, on Alpert: What he would do to get that sound was that he would play the first trumpet then he would pull out the tuning slide of his trumpet a little and then play the second trumpet and that's how he got that mariachi sound.

Can the trumpeters on this site help me better understand this explanation? I always thought the mariachi sound was created by playing in thirds. This explanation, however, suggests that playing out of tune made the difference.

The slight detuning tends to thicken, broaden, or fatten the sound somewhat, giving the illusion of more than one person playing - it gives the impression of the sound you would hear from a section of players.

Yes, many of the trumpet parts are played in thirds - often a third below the melody, but sometimes a third above the melody. Occasionally, there are parts in octaves. And, sometimes a different interval, depending on the song.
 

thetijuanataxi

Well-Known Member
Herb often used 6ths as well. SPANISH FLEA would be a good example of that. The slightly flat or sharp sixth harmony gives many of Herb's arrangements that bite to the sound and adds some exitement to the arrangement. If I think of other songs where he uses this a lot, I'll repost. Oh, BO-BO also comes to mind. I'm sure I'll think of others later.

David,
np- BMB- Digitaly Remastered Best
 

alpertfan

Well-Known Member
I've even heard that sometimes, he would overdub three or four trumpet parts. If I'm not mistaken, that's how "The Lonely Bull" was recorded.
 
When Mr. Alpert harmonized it was either in 6ths or 3rds. On Panama there was the riff in 5ths. These are all typical harmonies when two instruments duet. When HA would do two trumpet harmonies sometimes he would double each part. Herb Alpert playing the four trumpet parts is the Tijuana Brass sound. I think because in his early years he worked a lot with vocalist he was using those recording techniques on the horn. He was/is very creative. Later............Jay
 
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