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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, energetic low-sizzle, and comprehensible melodic and percussive vocabulary that endeared his playing to most succeeding jazz markets to this day. “Cubano Chant” is stripped to its most reactive core and – at the hands of this super-group – shown in its most highly and compacted shape. Impelling forces carry Guaraldi through “Lucero” and all burn whiter in “¿Tú crees qué?,” particularly Mongo Santamaría on bongos.
If you listen attentively, you can hear all sorts of enticing sub-tales behind the fun these guys were having during this recording. A page turned here, a grunt there, an instrument readjusted and lots of excellence from one of the foremost recordings in Latin jazz. Latin Concert is a model instance of percussive spiritedness, as exemplified in “Mi guaguancó,” that increases in value as time passes on.
Be informed: the “Theme” doesn’t last 0:54 seconds. It lasts 4:06. Don’t overlook the romantic majesty and allurement of “A Young Love.” As it happens with young loves, one doesn’t know where it will head, but the destination don’t matter during the trip... ¡Dale Mongo!
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.