Cal Tjader: Plays Harold Arlen and West Side Story (2002)
Like the recently reissued Our Blues, this double CD presents Cal Tjader before he seriously delved into the Latin tunes that made his name in jazz circles. Unlike the previous album, which presented the vibraphonist as a serious improviser, Tjader is content to let the songs take the center stage; about three-fourths of this CD features a string section in the background. The strategy works well. Tjader cuts loose on a few Arlen standards before settling into melodic passages on the latter half of the Kern album. The treatment of “West Side Story” falls short of the excellent Kenton record of the same score, but is still quite effective and original. Once again the strings are a welcome treatment to what many consider to be the finest of Broadway plays and Tjader expertly delves into the melodies with restrained improvising to create a lovely treatment of Bernstein’s melodies. Tjader’s Latin albums are still the best he has to offer, but this CD presents the artist as a successful interpreter of two composers’ gems.
Visit Fantasy on the web at http://www.fantasyjazz.com.
Track Listing: 1. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea 2. Ill Wind (You're Blowing Me No Good) 3. When the Sun Comes Out 4. Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe 5. I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues 6. Come Rain or Come Shine 7. Over the Rainbow 8. Out of This World 9. Last Night When We Were Young 10. Man That Got Away 11. Blues in the Night 12. Prologue/The Jet Song 13. Something's Coming 14. Maria Interlude 15. Maria 16. Tonight 17. America 18. Cool 19. One Hand, One Heart 20. I Feel Pretty/Somewhere.
Personnel: Cal Tjader-vibes with Willie Bobo, Red Callender, Clare Fischer, Lonnie Hewitt, Shelley Manne, Al McKibbon, Red Mitchell, Buddy Motsinger, Mogo Santamaria, and others.