Personnel: Herb Alpert (trumpet); John Pisano (guitar); Tonni Kalash (trumpet); Bob Edmondson (trombone); Lou Pagani (piano); Nick Ceroli (drums).
By late 1966, it seemed as if every TV commercial and every pop arranger had latched onto the Herb Alpert "Ameriachi" sound -- at which point the resourceful originator of that sound began to pare it down and loosen it up a bit. S.R.O. (Standing Room Only), referring to the Tijuana Brass' string of sold-out concerts, is an accurate title, for this LP is about a seven-piece band loaded with experienced jazzers who groove and swing together to a greater degree than on their previous albums. Sure, the arrangements are very tightly knit and don't allow much room for spontaneity, but they still sound fresh and uninhibited, and Alpert often allows the flavor of jazz to come through more clearly. Indeed, two of the album's three hit singles, "The Work Song" and "Flamingo," are jazz tunes -- the former nervous and driving, the latter joyously kicking -- and the third, "Mame," gets a nifty Dixieland treatment a la Louis Armstrong, with Alpert singing one verse. The sleeping gem of the record is guitarist John Pisano's "Freight Train Joe," a wistfully evocative tune that won't quit the memory, and the mournful Alpert/Pisano/Nick Ceroli tune "For Carlos" later became Wes Montgomery's "Wind Song." Though S.R.O. only went to number two on the LP charts, Alpert's creativity and popularity were still peaking. ~ Richard S. Ginell