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Ultimate Cal Tjader

Cal Tjader

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Album Review

Verve's Ultimate series unveils a new idea in the hackneyed concept of greatest-hits collections: instead of compilation producers, these albums feature tracks selected by figures who either worked with or were influenced by the artists themselves. The results are much more than your average best-of compilations; they're closer to treatises on the immense influence those artists exerted on generations to come, documenting exactly why they were special and deserve to be remembered. Cal Tjader's Ultimate compilation was selected by Eddie Palmieri, a long-time friend of Tjader and his co-leader on two LPs, El Sonido Nuevo and Cal Tjader & Eddie Palmieri (only the former was released on Verve). Appropriately, the compilation focuses on Tjader's hottest sides, from albums like In a Latin Bag, Soul Burst, and El Sonido Nuevo ("Guajira en Azul," "Picadillo," and Palmieri's own "Ritmo Uni"). For listeners wanting a brief summation of why Tjader meant so much to mainstream Latin-jazz, it's a solid compilation. The only caveat is PolyGram's inability to include tracks from the many excellent LPs Tjader recorded for Fantasy.


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...
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Ultimate Cal Tjader, Cal Tjader
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