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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, 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 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, 1998 | Skye Records

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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 October 4, 2019 | Master Tape Records

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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 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 October 22, 2018 | nagel heyer records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1994 | Concord Records

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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, 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 January 1, 1994 | Verve

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. © Nick Dedina /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1982 | Concord Records

Vibraphonist Cal Tjader's final album (he passed away four months later) found his band mostly accompanying singer Carmen McRae. The potentially exciting combination does not really come off that well. The musicians (Tjader, a rhythm section, two percussionists including Poncho Sanchez, and a pair of trombonists) had little to do. McRae sounds OK in the Latin setting, but does not uplift the diverse material (which includes "Besame Mucho," "Evil Ways," "Do Nothing Till You Hear from Me," "Speak Low" and two Stevie Wonder songs), and the effort overall is somewhat forgettable and disappointing. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released October 2, 1968 | 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 May 14, 2002 | Fantasy Records

A two-for-one CD pairing of Tjader's 1957 studio album Cal Tjader with all but one song from his 1960 live LP Concert on the Campus doesn't seem like the most logical of matches. According to the back-sleeve blurb, the intent is to focus on Tjader's more straight-ahead jazz, rather than the Latin jazz for which he's probably better known. This does present a decent helping of his early straight-ahead jazz work, though hardly a definitive one considering his large discography. Tjader's self-titled 1957 LP was a sedate affair, using the backing of pianist Vince Guaraldi, bassist Gene Wright, and drummer Al Torre. The slower tracks aren't quite exotica, but they get close with their languid tempos and overall drowsy feel. Things perk up, though not raucously so, for more straight-ahead mid-speed numbers like "When Lights Are Low," "And Baby Makes Three," and Gerry Mulligan's "Line for Lyons," reaching their highest energy on "Our Blues." There's no Latin jazz here, just modest straight-ahead stuff centered around two long medleys, one of "Summertime/Bess You Is My Woman Now/Strawberry Woman," the other of "Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be?)," "Willow Weep for Me," and "'Round Midnight." Concert on the Campus (presented here minus one track, "Rezo," omitted for space reasons) is better and livelier. Willie Bobo and Mongo Santamaria -- certainly Latin players, even if this isn't the most Latin-influenced of material -- lay down propulsive rhythms on "S.S. Groove" and "Moment in Madrid," interspersed with ballads by Gordon Jenkins and Cole Porter. Ray Bryant's "Cuban Fantasy" would certainly qualify as Latin jazz in the estimation of most, though its deviation from the album's overall theme shouldn't stop listeners from enjoying it. © Richie Unterberger /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