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Jazz - Released January 1, 1971 | Craft Recordings

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1995 | Verve

Soul Sauce is one of the highlights from Tjader's catalog with its appealing mixture of mambo, samba, bolero, and boogaloo styles. Tjader's core band -- long-time piano player Lonnie Hewitt, drummer Johnny Rae and percussionist's Willie Bobo and Armanda Peraza -- starts things off with a cooled down version of Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo's Latin jazz classic "Guachi Guaro (Soul Sauce)". With the help of guitarist Kenny Burrell, trumpeter Donald Byrd, and tenor saxophonist Jimmy Heath they offer up a lively version of Mongo Santamaria's "Afro Blue." Sticking to his music's "Mambo Without a Migraine" reputation, though, Tjader's musicians keep things fairly calm, especially on Latinized ballads such as Billy May's "Somewhere In the Night" and on midtempo swingers like "Tanya." On Soul Sauce, Tjader had perfected a middle ground between the brisk, collegiate mambo of his early Fantasy records and the mood-heavy sound of Asian themed albums like Breeze From the East. In the process, he dodged the "Latin lounge" label with an album full of smart arrangements, subtly provocative vibe solos, and intricate percussion backing. © Stephen Cook /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1966 | Verve

By the mid-'60s, vibraphonist Cal Tjader was recording regularly for Verve in a wide variety of settings but with pretty consistent success. For this popular outing, Tjader plays a few then-current Latin numbers (including Clare Fischer's famous "Morning"), revives "Manteca," and performs a pair of Kurt Weill standards ("My Ship" and "The Bilbao Song"). With Jerome Richardson, Seldon Powell, and/or Jerry Dodgion prominent on flutes, such sidemen as the young pianist Chick Corea, guitarist Attila Zoller, bassist Richard Davis, drummer Grady Tate, and some fine charts written by Oliver Nelson, the music is quite catchy and accessible, commercial but still creative within the genre. © Scott Yanow. /TiVo
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Jazz - Released May 26, 1966 | Verve Reissues

El Sonido Nuevo is a popular collaboration between vibraphonist Cal Tjader and pianist Eddie Palmieri (who provided the arrangements). Despite the claims of greatness expressed in the liners ("a landmark in the history of Latin jazz"), much of the music is actually quite lightweight although enjoyable enough, and the easy listening melodies and accessible rhythms hold one's interest. Despite the changing personnel, Tjader is generally the lead voice, and he is in fine form even if the overall results are not all that memorable or unique. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1994 | Fantasy Records

Cal Tjader's Brazilian explorations continue and actually deepen with this release, as he joins forces with a host of progressive young Brazilian musicians, all overseen by producer Airto Moreira. By now, Tjader had figured out how to fit into the blend, doing so by losing himself in the complex mix of Afro-Brazilian rhythms, American funk and '70s-era electronics, integrating his own identity for the sake of the ensemble. Indeed, Tjader actually appears on marimba on tracks like Joao Donato's "Amazonas" and his collaboration with Hermeto Pascoal, "Mindoro," his playing taking on a more brittle edge as a result. Tjader's Southern Hemisphere cohorts include such emerging luminaries as keyboardist Egberto Gismonti, percussionist Robertinho Silva, the sometimes wild flutist Hermeto Pascoal and on one track, the superb trombonist Raul de Souza. The intricate arrangements are in the hands of George Duke, and so are the funky, occasionally spaced-out keyboard sounds (albeit under the contractually dictated pseudonym "Dawilli Gonga"). © Richard S. Ginell /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1980 | Concord Records

It was only fitting that vibraphonist Cal Tjader launched the Concord Picante label with this release for Tjader did a great deal to popularize Latin-jazz. This was not his strongest effort (the solos of Tjader and flutist Roger Glenn are not all that substantial) but the drumming of Vince Lateano and the percussion of Poncho Sanchez keep the momentum flowing on these likable performances. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released November 1, 1968 | Verve Reissues

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Jazz - Released September 1, 2003 | Fantasy Records

Cuban Fantasy consists of previously unissued selections from two 1977 concerts by Cal Tjader at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, though this is anything but an example of clearing out tape vaults simply to issue new product. Joined by pianist Clare Fischer, conga player Poncho Sanchez, guitarist Bob Redfield, bassist Rob Fisher, and drummer Pete Riso, Tjader energizes the crowd with his interpretation of Ray Bryant's infectious "Cuban Fantasy," switching over from vibes to timbales to build it to an exciting climax. Fisher contributed the subtle "Guarabe," while the engaging arrangement of Mongo Santamaria's "Tu Crees Que?" would have had the audience on their feet dancing had this been recorded outdoors. This is one of Cal Tjader's best groups, and it is a shame that this music remained hidden for a quarter century. © Ken Dryden /TiVo
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Jazz - Released February 1, 1964 | Verve Reissues

Cal Tjader's Breeze from the East combined the vibist's Latin lounge style with kitschy Asian touches. In lieu of the Asian-born material and Lalo Schifrin's airy arrangements found on its predecessor Several Shades of Jade, though, Tjader opted here for Stan Applebaum's self-penned go-go charts. On "Sake and Greens," "Cha," and "Shoji," mod-rock guitar lines shadow Tjader's solos on pat-sounding Oriental scales, while pianist Lonnie Hewitt keeps up a soul-jazz rhythm -- picture '60s-era James Bond on a wild chase through the heart of Tokyo. Tjader's traditionally light, Latin combo approach -- sans much of the Eastern ornamentation -- is still used on standards like "Stardust" and "East of the Sun (And West of the Moon)" and even worked to somewhat sublime heights on "Fuji" and "Black Orchid." The ultra-smooth Latin jazz sound Tjader favored has always been more infectious than demanding and Breeze from the East's commercialized mod/eastern elements only end up expanding the pop exotica mix. © Stephen Cook /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1962 | Verve Reissues

In another experiment, producer Creed Taylor teams O'Day with the alternately Latin and bop-grounded quartet of vibraphonist Cal Tjader -- and he gets some amazing performances from this team. O'Day sounds as if she is delighted with Tjader's polished Afro-Cuban grooves, gliding easily over the rhythms, toying with the tunes, transforming even a tune so locked into its trite time as "Mr. Sandman" into a stimulating excursion. Indeed, O'Day's freewheeling phrasing becomes downright sexy on "That's Your Red Wagon" and Dave Frishberg's delicious parody of a spoiled honeybunch, "Peel Me a Grape." Also, thanks to Taylor's obsession with good engineering and tasteful applications of reverb, O'Day's voice sounds much fuller and more attractive in his productions than on her Norman Granz-produced albums. © Richard S. Ginell /TiVo
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Jazz - Released October 4, 2019 | Master Tape Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1994 | Concord Records

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Jazz - Released May 21, 1996 | Verve Reissues

In apparent response to the sampling of old Latin jazz records by hip-hop artists, Verve raided its Cal Tjader archive to come up with this fiercely grooving collection drawn from nine of his Verve albums. For all of producer Creed Taylor's '60s penchant for fashioning two- to four-minute cuts aimed at airplay, he allowed Tjader's groups considerable room to stretch out on several of the tracks included here, particularly on the live "Los Bandidos" and the hypnotic collaboration with pianist Eddie Palmieri, "Picadillo." More importantly, Tjader's records with Taylor were more varied in texture than his earlier discs, venturing now and then from his solid Afro-Cuban base into Brazilian rhythms, soul, big-band backings, and '60s pop touches. Among the best cuts included here are "Sambo Do Suenho" -- which has a killer bossa/Afro-Cuban rhythm stoked by Grady Tate, Armando Peraza and Ray Barretto working in terrific symmetry -- Peraza's fast, hard-swinging "Maramoor Mambo," and Horace Silver's "Tokyo Blues," as spearheaded by Lalo Schifrin's driving big band. © Richard S. Ginell /TiVo
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Jazz - Released April 25, 1963 | Verve

One of the most unique albums of Cal Tjader's career, 1963's Several Shades of Jade is a collaboration with composer and arranger Lalo Schifrin that transposes the vibraphonist's musical travels from Latin America to the Far East. This is no more traditional Asian music than Tjader's similar albums from this period are traditional Latin music, but the pair wisely avoids the standard clichés of Asian music (no smashing gongs after every musical phrase or melodies that sound like rejects from The Mikado). Instead, Schifrin frames Tjader's meditative vibraphone solos in arrangements that strike a cool balance between western kitsch and eastern exotica, never tipping too far in either direction. Although the follow-up album, Breeze From the East, is rightfully panned by just about everyone whose idea of Asian music doesn't begin and end with the Vapors' "Turning Japanese," Several Shades of Jade is actually an interesting experiment that succeeds more often than it fails. © Stewart Mason /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1989 | Prestige

This two-LP set is the definitive early Cal Tjader album and one of the high points of his career. For a Monterey concert that was considered a preview concert for the 1959 Monterey Jazz Festival, Tjader was teamed up with flutist and altoist Paul Horn, pianist Lonnie Hewitt, bassist Al McKibbon, Willie Bobo (on drums and timbales), and percussionist Mongo Santamaria. Their renditions of Latinized jazz tunes along with a few Latin originals practically define the idiom. Highlights include "Doxy," one of the earliest versions of Santamaria's "Afro Blue" (pre-dating John Coltrane's famous rendition by four years), "Love Me or Leave Me," and "A Night in Tunisia." Essential music for everyone's Latin jazz collection. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1998 | Skye Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2005 | Concord Records

Mary Stallings was just 22 at the time this album, her first, was cut in 1961. Fortunately, she was teamed up with a group of top professionals led by vibist Cal Tjader. She also sticks with mostly tried and true material, with Duke Ellington's songs getting a big play. Tjader is not a virtuoso on the vibes, but has made a name for himself because of his attachment to Latin rhythms. With no such music on this album, Tjader's playing seems somewhat stiff at times, particularly on ballads and slow blues. However, alternating pianists Lonnie Hewitt and Clare Fischer get with the program to give Stallings the backing she needs. The vibes player also loosens up on up-tempo tunes like "It Ain't Necessarily So." The singer has a powerful voice with a straight from the shoulder, no holds barred delivery. Her years singing in churches in San Francisco no doubt helped to develop her powerful style, and also give her some sympathy for such tunes as "God Bless the Child," which gets a particularly reverent reading. Paul Horn's flute helps make this a premier track. Stallings also makes good use of vibrato to emphasize a word or a phrase. This technique is used effectively on blues tunes such as "Mr. Blues." Stallings' dedication to pitch comes through on "Just Squeeze Me," where the bass is her only accompaniment. But some seasoning is needed. She sings everything with just about the same volume, paying no attention to dynamics. But all the equipment is there and, coupled with a natural affinity for the blues and swing, taking care of this matter should be no problem. © Dave Nathan /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1959 | Fantasy Records

Cal Tjader's era-defining mixture of Afro-Cuban rhythms and mainstream jazz solos undergoes a bit of a horizontal expansion in these 1956 sessions. The tracks are often longer than on previous albums, finally taking advantage of the logistics of the LP, and as a result, both the Latin and jazz elements benefit. Tenor saxophonist Brew Moore gets extended chances to blow in an easy-grooving Getz-like manner on several tracks, and on "I Love Paris," Luis Miranda (congas) and Bayardo Velarde (timbales) engage in some spirited percussion battles over the vamping of the brothers Duran (Manuel on piano and Carlos on bass). Everything cooks in a bright yet disciplined manner, and Tjader's elliptical, swinging vibes preside genially over the ensemble. © Richard S. Ginell /TiVo
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Jazz - Released October 2, 1968 | Skye Records

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World - Released July 24, 2001 | Concord Picante

During the last few years of his life, Cal Tjader had a very productive relationship with Concord Jazz. The vibist signed with Concord in 1979 and stayed there until his death in 1982 at the age of 56. Had Tjader lived a longer life, it's possible that he would have stayed at Concord a long time like his protégé, Poncho Sanchez. But that's only speculation. What we can say for certain is that Tjader was impressively consistent during his much-too-brief Concord period. Two of the excellent albums he recorded during that period were 1980's Gozame! Pero Ya and 1981's The Shining Sea, which Concord reissued back to back in 2001 as the two-CD set Both Sides of the Coin. This double CD has an appropriate title because it shows us two different sides of Tjader: a Latin side and a non-Latin side. Gozame! Pero Ya, which boasts Sanchez on congas, is consistently Latin-minded and finds Tjader putting a Latin spin (either Afro-Cuban or Brazilian) on gems that range from Gerry Mulligan's "This Couldn't Be the Real Thing" to Johnny Mandel's "Close Enough for Love" and the standard "This Is Always." Meanwhile, Tjader favors a non-Latin approach to bop on The Shining Sea, a five-star session that boasts Scott Hamilton on tenor sax and Hank Jones on piano. The thing the two albums have in common is that both are extremely melodic; whether Tjader is embracing Afro-Cuban and Brazilian rhythms on Gozame! Pero Ya or delivering non-Latin bop on The Shining Sea, this two-CD set never fails to be lyrical. Those who already have both albums on CD don't need to acquire Both Sides of the Coin, but the double CD is enthusiastically recommended to anyone who has yet to experience the joys of Tjader's Concord output. © Alex Henderson /TiVo