Billy Gibbons Calls His ‘Perfectamundo’ Album a ‘Direct Homage’ to His Father
He told the story during a recent interview with the Houston Chronicle, recalling, "I had been banging on anything and everything around the house that made a loud noise as a kid. Maybe I had just turned 12. … My dad had become entertained by all this banging and clanging, so one day I found myself on a plane to New York where I was marched off to learn how to do it right. He brought me to the doorstep of Tito Puente."
Gibbons' father, a composer and bandleader in his own right, gave Billy a big leg up by introducing him to the legendary Puente, but that was just the beginning. Calling their meeting "the real clincher," Gibbons said Puente took a slightly unorthodox — but ultimately thoroughly effective — approach to starting their first lesson.
"He didn't say, 'Let me show you what to do.' He handed me some timbale sticks and said, 'Let me hear what you want to play,'" said Gibbons. "Apparently, I had a good feel for it. He said, 'We're not going to have a problem here. Let's begin.' That started it all. Timbales, congas, bongos, maracas, claves. If it fell into the category of Latin percussion, and we were pedaling, I'd go into hyper-pedal."
Decades later, Gibbons found himself invited to perform at the 2014 Havana Jazz Festival — a summons that ended up bringing him full circle while striking the spark that lit Perfectamundo. Calling the end result "a new and fresh amalgamation of blues rock and Latino styles," he credited his father for starting him on his way, saying, "The result of our meanderings in the recording studio — which was fiercely focused on this Afro-Cuban direction — is in no small part a direct homage to my dad."
Gibbons and his solo combo the BFG's will keep Perfectamundo on the road through early 2016. Saying his ZZ Top bandmates are "enjoying a nice holiday as I'm beating the touring trail," he added that they're already mapping out a band tour that seems likely to commence shortly after Gibbons concludes his solo dates.
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