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Friday, November 18, 2016
This morning on a whim I decided to see how many Cal Tjader tracks are in my desktop (where I manage both my vinyl & digital collections). There are currently 456 unique Cal Tjader mp3s in there. I know!! Not enough, right?? That's why I just added 3 more albums to my wish list...
I'm currently listening to all the Tjader cd's I own chronologically when I'm cooking or cleaning up the kitchen (we make a lot of dishes when we cook). This morning I had
on the one pictured above. It took a while for this to get issued on cd... Verve has only released about half of it's Tjader catalog digitally. This one was finally put out by English label Él ( in assoc. with Cherry Red Records) in 2014. It's highly enjoyable with a solid Latin rhythm section along with Paul Horn on flute/sax and Lonnie Hewitt on piano. There is a particularly fine "On Green Dolphin Street" with extended soloing from Cal and Paul. It's a bit subtler than other Latin albums he released, but still cooking, with a nice moodiness to it.
And then the cd kept playing. I had forgotten it also contains the album "Saturday Night/Sunday Night at the Blackhawk" recorded 5 months later (Jan 1962) also with Lonnie Hewitt, Johnny Rae on drums and Freddie Schreiber on bass. Neat versions of "Stablemates", "This Can't Be Love", "Stompin' at the Savoy" as well as intriguing originals by Cal, Schreiber & Hewitt; recorded at the famed dive in San Francisco - Cal's hometown.
I didn't always dig Cal...in the early 90's I was high on Michel Camilo's release "Why Not" and wanted more Latin
jazz with horns, aggressive percussion and high-energy soloing. I went to the used books & record store I frequented in Sayville, NY and unearthed what looked like was going to be a really cooking affair (complete with picture of hot sauce and a bowl of red beans). It didn't hurt that the proprietor's sticker read "Rare Classic Latin Jazz Release!! - $35".
Yes... this sucker paid $35 dollars for a non-mint copy of "Soul Sauce". Imagine my further disappointment when I popped on the stylus to hear the title track, the mellow eq on the vibes, the hand claps, the lack of blazing horns, and plenty of reverb on the percussion, sounding very much like a 60's lounge-exotica album. I was over it - or rather, I wasn't ready for it.
It wasn't till 2004 when I took another chance and bought the phenomenal "Soul Burst" album with Chick Corea,
Oliver Nelson arranging, a killer trio of Jerome Richardson, Jerry Dodgion & Seldon Powell on flutes, and cats like Carlos "Patato" Valdes & Victor Pantoja in the rhythm section, that I did a 180! I immediately went back out and picked up the Verve 2-fer "Several Shades of Jade" & "Breeze from the East" and got totally hooked. Changed my life, really.
Everyone knows Cal Tjader pioneered Latin jazz and was legit (or he knew his $#@!*, in non-musician vernacular), but he's still an acquired taste. Like some folks with Sinatra - you either "get him" - or you have no idea what the fuss is. This little post is for my fellow freaks who get him. There's a lot to love.... - Kendo