Billy Gibbons has been rocking with ZZ Top since 1969, but this week he announced the upcoming release of his first ever solo project.
Known for his masterful blues-rock fusion, Billy Gibbons is making a departure from what has defined him. Gibbons is serving up an album full of Latin flavor with Perfectamundo.
The announcement of Perfectamundo, released on the ZZ Top website, describes the venture as an “Afro-Cuban inflected album,” featuring vocals in both English and Spanish. But beyond the linguistic mix, Gibbons displays his musical versatility on the album, showing off his skills on percussion.
The album was inspired by an invitation for Billy Gibbons to participate in the 2014 Havana Jazz Festival, and though he wasn’t able to make the event, it did get him to thinking about his roots.
Billy Gibbons was always around music. Gibbons’ father was band leader and concert pianist Freddie Royal, and some of the music instruction that he received as a young man happened to be of the Latin variety. In fact, Gibbons was trained by a master: Mr. Tito Puente.
Gibbons, who plays a variety of stringed instruments beyond electric guitar, had no problem picking up where he left off with regard to percussion.
“Banging away on ’em came back like riding on a lost bicycle,” said Gibbons, according to Billboard.
But it is important to note that Gibbons is not leaving ZZ Top. Perfectamundo is an album that he created in addition to the work that continues with his friends and band-mates Dusty Hill and Frank Beard of ZZ Top.
“The band is continuing with the ongoing collection of new ideas for the upcoming sessions and yours truly will be releasing a full-length album, out this fall, that’s something of an exploration of Afro-Cuban inspired sounds,” said Gibbons in an interview with The Times Herald. “Tasty stuff…or shall we say ‘muy sabroso!'”
Gibbons and ZZ Top recently completed a European tour, headlined Musikfest in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and they aren’t showing any signs of slowing down.
ZZ Top kicks off their Grooves and Gravy Tour today in Glen Allen, Virginia, and will tour the U.S. through the end of September. Blackberry Smoke will be opening for them on the tour.
After more than 40 years of making music, Billy Gibbons and ZZ Top are still highly-revered for their live performances. Amped up versions of classics, extended songs featuring driving guitar solos, blues-inspired favorites and distinctive stage presence are all associated with a ZZ Top live performance. And the way Gibbons speaks of touring with the band, it is easy to see that the art of live music has not grown stale with time.
“It may sound cliche-ish,” said Gibbons to The Times Herald, “but it’s really about square one — having a rockin’ good time. Few things exist that we’d rather do than get up, get out, plug in and rage.”
Perfectamundo is set for release on October 23.
[Image courtesy of Christopher Polk/Getty Images]