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Jazz Masters 39: Cal Tjader

Cal Tjader

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Album Review

The best single-disc overview of Cal Tjader's Verve years, this collection actually makes the vibraphonist's time spent at the label seem more rewarding than it actually was. While with Fantasy Records, Tjader usually spent his time cutting tough Latin jazz albums or releasing superb small-group, bop-tinged cool jazz sessions. But under the guidance of Creed Taylor, most of Tjader's Verve sessions put a smooth gloss on his Latin style and almost completely ignored his very real talents for mainstream small-group jazz. That doesn't mean that his Verve years weren't full of excellent music, because they were; it's just that he recorded less group music for Verve, so it's great to see that so much fine music shows up here. Every track's a winner, but the CD features such highlights as Tjader's surprise pop hit "Soul Sauce," a beautiful ballad reading of "The Way You Look Tonight," the amazingly frenetic big band recording of the Horace Silver tune "Tokyo Blues," and a hip-shaking version of "Moanin'" that has Herbie Hancock and Ron Carter sitting in. Judging by this collection alone, you'd think Tjader's Verve period was the perfect marriage of high-quality jazz and mainstream commercial instincts. If only "selling out" always sounded this good. Maybe there's more to Cal Tjader's Verve sessions than there appeared to be at the time.

Customer Reviews

The Whole Spectrum

While I normally don't care for labels like Verve compiling 'Best Of' showcase albums, this one is surprisingly excellent. A good majority of Tjader's catalogue is in here, and there's a decent leaning towards his mambo days. A phenomenal artist in any respect.

Biography

Born: July 16, 1925 in St. Louis, MO

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

Cal Tjader was undoubtedly the most famous non-Latino leader of Latin jazz bands, an extraordinary distinction. From the 1950s until his death, he was practically the point man between the worlds of Latin jazz and mainstream bop; his light, rhythmic, joyous vibraphone manner could comfortably embrace both styles. His numerous recordings for Fantasy and Verve and long-standing presence in the San Francisco Bay Area eventually had a profound influence upon Carlos Santana, and thus Latin rock. He also...
Full Bio
Jazz Masters 39: Cal Tjader, Cal Tjader
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