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BOOK EXCERPTS

Cal Tjader: The Life and Recordings of the Man Who Revolutionized Latin Jazz

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The following is an excerpt from the “Reaching for the Skye" chapter of Cal Tjader: The Life and Recordings of the Man Who Revolutionized Latin Jazz by S. Duncan Reid (McFarland, 2013). Tjader had reached the East Coast by November and on November 17, he arrived at Van Gelder Studio for a session ("Willow Weep for Me" and “Joey Joey") that probably included tenor sax man Jimmy Heath and trumpeter Donald Byrd. Two days later, Heath, Byrd, Kenny Burrell and Armando Peraza, among others, were definitely on hand to produce a powerful pianoless “Afro Blue." In 1959, ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Cal Tjader & Stan Getz: Sextet

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Cal Tjader / Stan GetzSextetOriginal Jazz Classics Remasters2011 (1958) The presence of Latin and Afro-Cuban enthusiast, vibraphonist Cal Tjader, has created a widespread misconception that Sextet was the album which sparked tenor saxophonist Stan Getz's fascination with Brazilian music and, ultimately, bossa nova. The notion has, over the years, been reinforced by the inclusion of pianist Vince Guaraldi's “Ginza Samba," whose theme statements were played over a samba beat, and which, as plain “Ginza," was the third track on side one of the album's original LP release. During the Stateside bossa ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Cal Tjader: Live at the Monterey Jazz Festival 1958-1980

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Cal Tjader began his career as a stalwart member of the West Coast jazz scene, swinging his vibes through breezy versions of standards with the likes of Vince Guaraldi and Stan Getz. Along the way he delved into Latin music and after that it colored almost everything he did. His progression as an artist is explored on this compilation of performances from the Monterey Jazz Festivals, spanning the time period from 1958 to 1980. The first five tracks feature the entire performance from 1958 featuring Cal Tjader's working group running through what would be nondescript standards except ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Cal Tjader: Best of Concord Years / Sextet; Charlie Byrd: Homage to Jobim

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Here are three sets of music by musicians associated under the expansive banner of Latin jazz. Stan Getz is usually credited with starting the fusion of Brazilian music, especially bossa nova. However, classically trained guitarist Charlie Byrd (and his sideman, perhaps most importantly the drummer Buddy Deppenschmidt) was among the first to go on a South American U.S. State Department tour, about a year before they put out their collaborative Jazz Samba. Vibraphonist Cal Tjader is arguably only known for his Latin jazz recordings but this great, underrated player also has roots in Dave Brubeck's and George Shearing's music.

Cal ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Anita O'Day & Cal Tjader: Time for 2

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Norman Granz's inspired pairing of Anita O'Day with Cal Tjader pays big dividends on 1962's Time for 2. The singer's megawatt personality perfectly complements the vibraphonist's tweedy, polite style. If Tjader's highly pureed blend of cool bop and Latin jazz impeded O'Day, it does not show. Her saucy phrasings and subtly ironic wit gently layer over his thoughtful vibes work.

The Latin isn't overdone here; Time for 2 is only lightly seasoned with congas and mambo rhythms, perhaps Tjader's nod to his tenure with George Shearing. Some of the tracks are straight-ahead jazz, served crisp and cool thanks to O'Day's ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Cal Tjader: The Best of the Concord Years

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From 1979 to his death in 1982, Cal Tjader recorded six albums for Concord. The record label created a new imprint, Concord Picante, for his Latin recordings. Concord has now released The Best Of The Concord Years, which is made up of two 55 minute CDs, comprising more than a third of Tjader's output for the label. Tjader never recorded a bad album, so a collection taken from six is going to be good.

For these recordings, Tjader went to his past in two ways. First, the electric piano was put away (except for two songs here), and the flute ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Cal Tjader: The Best of the Concord Years

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The Best of the Concord Years celebrates the acclaimed composer, bandleader and vibraphonist Cal Tjader’s last four years, 1979 through 1982. Tjader combined Latin, be bop and cool West Coast themes into an inspiring and influential blend of some of the best modern recordings of jazz. This double disc package opens with two Mark Levine penned tunes, “Serengeti” and “Linda Chicana.” Both of these recordings set a tone that the remaining recordings easily follow: simply nothing short of great music from great musicians. These recordings, from the 1980 release La Onde Va Bien, feature not only Tjader ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Cal Tjader: The Best of the Concord Years

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Vibraphonist/percussionist/bandleader Cal Tjader said it right when he claimed “I am not an innovator. I am not a pathfinder. I am a participator.” While he never pushed the envelope of Afro-Cuban music, he did go a long way in popularizing it. With albums like La Onda Va Bien winning a Grammy award, the humble Tjader managed to bring a wider audience to the music, much the same way Dizzy Gillespie did. The Best of the Concord Years brings together two disks worth of some of Tjader’s best latter-period material, recorded right up until his untimely passing at the age of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Cal Tjader: Cuban Fantasy

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George Shearing's bands with percussionists Willie Bobo, Armando Peraza, and Mongo Santamaria also featured Cal Tjader. After his time with Shearing, Tjader employed his drums, timbales, percussion and vibes as a longstanding pillar of the San Francisco jazz scene. Bobo and Santamaria would later realign with Tjader in some of these bands. So did Vince Guaraldi, another of Tjader's Shearing compatriots, whose dancing, crystalline piano style served the Latin idiom well, especially in the context of Tjader’s chiming vibes and shimmering rhythms.

In 1977, Tjader recorded this performance at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall. Though Cuban Fantasy (Fantasy) moves ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Cal Tjader: Cuban Fantasy

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The brand new Cuban Fantasy is an album of previously unreleased material Cal Tjader recorded in concert in San Francisco over two nights in June, 1977. Tjader's band had the same instrumental makeup as his 1969 Plugs In band – vibes, electric piano, electric bass, trap drums, conga drums – with the addition of an electric guitar.

In the sixties, a few rock bands with radio hits such as the Kingsmen and the Swingin' Medallions had a reputation for specializing in college fraternity parties. Cuban Fantasy is the equivalent of a west coast/Latin jazz frat party band. If there ever ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Cal Tjader: Latin Concert

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Quick and to the Point : Classic.

In hindsight, it is rather easy to understand why this 1958 Cal Tjader group was his best ever. The groove among them is a model of economy, good taste, and simple-yet-profound depth. It sure shows in “The Continental,” with its expertly and tastily executed dynamics converging on Vince Guaraldi’s cohesiveness, tightness and rich rhythmic melodic performance.

“Viva Cepeda” became a memorable hit for Tjader and it is recorded here, as is the entire date, live at San Francisco’s Blackhawk. The opener features Tjader at the top of his game with the clear tone, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Cal Tjader: Concerts In the Sun

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Concerts in the Sun languished in the vaults for 42 years, but it's now finally available on CD. The recording finds Cal Tjader in a state of transition between the West Coast cool jazz he helmed with Dave Brubeck and a full-blown commitment to integrating Afro-Cuban rhythms into jazz. Culled from two concerts, one in Honolulu and the other in San Francisco, the first half features well-mannered standards and a distinct lack of perspiration; unfortunately, the five song routine seems overly rehearsed and detached.

Only in the second half, which features the dense polyrhythms of Willie Bobo ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Cal Tjader: Plays Harold Arlen and West Side Story

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Cal Tjader: Our Blues

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Before Cal Tjader made his mark on the Latin-jazz front, he was a fine straight-ahead player and probably the best vibraphonist on the West Coast. This two-fer CD is made up of two early albums recorded for Fantasy that show how well Tjader worked in conventional settings. Despite his West Coast pedigree, the live half of the CD shows that vibraphonist is a tougher customer than one might expect; songs like S.S. Groove and “Moment in Madrid swing hard and would sound right at home on one of Bobby Hutcherson's Blue Note albums. An off-kilter 5/4 rendering of “Love For ...



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