Traffic jams: Gearld Wilson – ‘Viva Tirado’

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Although jazz is no longer as popular and mainstream as it once was, there have been times when the genre has morphed into other genres to reach more listeners. The same thing happened with this song composed by Viva Tirado.

While many may be more familiar with the version performed by Los Angeles-based brown-eyed soul band El Chicano, many may not know that the original version of the song was a big band composition written by legendary and prolific songwriter Gerald Wilson. Any jazz artist you can name, Wilson has composed for, from Duke Ellington to Ray Charles to Billie Holiday.

Many of Wilson’s compositions blend elements of Latin jazz and jazz. It was often a tribute to his wife’s Mexican American heritage. His best-known song sampling this combination is “Viva Tirado”.

On the title track of his 1962 album moment of truththe Latin elements of “Viva Tirado” are immediately recognizable (another version of the song was recorded in 1967 for Wilson’s Live and swing — recorded live at an old Los Angeles jazz spot, Marty’s On The Hill.) If you listen closely, you might notice and hear talented guitarist Joe Pass on the track’s first and second guitar solos. Pass was a member of Wilson’s band in the mid-1960s.

I hope you can enjoy this unique and colorful selection of big band jazz with a Latin twist. Today, a century after the true reign of the big bands, a band like this is hard to find, and the sound a precious art rarely reproduced.

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