Cal Tjader, d.1986

The Cal Tjader story is so well known there is next to nothing to add. The European king of the vibes made his mark early in the U.S. as a Latin and jazz bandleader, where he enjoyed the support of key African-American and Cuban musicians. A big fish in the smaller pond of the West Coast scene, he was free to nurture the talents of many future leaders and first-call players, such as Mongo Santamaria and Willie Bobo. Over several decades Tjader cut an enormity of hip yet widely popular and successful albums. Neither California jazz nor the hapless Fantasy label could be taken very seriously were it not for Cal Tjader's many contributions.

Tjader's album legacy spans roughly three periods. The first is the long series of Latin and jazz albums on Fantasy. Some are better than others, but the Ritmo Caliente sets represent fairly well. The second stage is his Verve LPs, when mod, mid-1960s experimentation led to exoticism beyond just the new boogaloo sounds and collaborations with Eddie Palmieri. In the third stage, mainly back on Fantasy in the 1970s, Tjader "brought it all together" with different all-star lineups playing both hip Latin and soul jazz.

Buying: The Verve and later LPs rarely disappoint in content and quality. Soul Sauce is a masterpiece. Original Fantasy LPs from the '50s & '60s are to be avoided (Fantasy red vinyl is notoriously noisy, even unworn). Seek original and reissue LPs from the '70s for LPs on the Fantasy label.

Cal Tjader LPs on Fantasy

8Mambo with Tjader; Fantasy F-3202; 1954 (8057 & as [ES] 9424, 1973; remastered mono as OJC-271, 1987)
8Ritmo Caliente; Fantasy F-3216; 1955/1954-55
7Tjader Plays Mambo; Fantasy F-3221
6Cal Tjader Quintet (Latin); Fantasy F-3232
6Jazz at the Blackhawk; Fantasy F-3241
7Latin Kick; Fantasy F-8033 (8425)
8Mas Ritmo Caliente; Fantasy F-8003; 1957
Cal Tjader/Stan Getz Sextet; Fantasy F-8005
San Francisco Moods; Fantasy F-8017
6Latin Concert; Fantasy F-8014
Tjader Plays Jazz; Fantasy F-3278
Latin for Lovers; Fantasy F-8016
A Night at the Blackhawk; Fantasy F-8026
5Tjader Goes Latin; Fantasy F-8030
7Concert by the Sea; Fantasy F-8038
7Concert on the Campus; Fantasy F-8044 (OJC-279; famous Willie Bobo solo)
Cal Tjader Quartet; Fantasy F-3307
7Demasiado Caliente; Fantasy F-8053
West Side Story; Fantasy F-8054
Cal Tjader; Fantasy F-3313
Latin for Lovers; Fantasy F-8019
8Tjader; Fantasy F-8406; 1971
8Agua Dulce; Fantasy F-8416
8Primo; Fantasy F-9422; 1973 (arr. Tito Puente, Charlie Palmieri)
7Last Bolero in Berkeley; Fantasy F-9446; 1973
7Bits & Pieces; Fantasy F-9463; 1974/1973 (a.k.a. "Puttin' it Together"; live)
4Last Night When We Were Young; Fantasy F-9482; 1975
5Cal Tjader: Amazonas; Fantasy F-9502; 1976
6Cal Tjader at Grace Cathedral; Fantasy F-9521; 1977/1976 (live)
7Cal Tjader: Guarabe; Fantasy F-9533; 1977 (w/Clare Fischer, Pancho Sanchez..)
6Cal Tjader: Here; Fantasy/Galaxy GXY-5121; 1977 (live; w/Clare Fischer, Pancho Sanchez..)

Cal Tjader LPs on Other Labels

7In a Latin Bag; Verve V6-8419; 1961 (Latin jazz w/Johnny Rae, Armando Peraza, Paul Horn..)
Saturday Night/Sunday Night; Verve V6-8459; 1962
8Anita O'Day & Cal Tjader: Time for 2; Verve V6-8472; 1962
8Several Shades of Jade; Verve V6-8507; 1963
7Soņa Libre; Verve V6-8531; 1963 (Latin jazz)
8Breeze from the East; Verve V6-8575; 1963
5Warm Wave; Verve V6-8585; 1964
9Soul Sauce; Verve V6-8614; 1965/1964 (Latin jazz; w/Johnny Rae, Gary McFarland, Willie Bobo, Armando Pereza, Donald Byrd..)
6Soul Bird: Whiffenpoof; Verve V6-8626; 1965
5Soul Burst; Verve V6-8637
7El Sonido Nuevo: The New Soul Sound (w/Eddie Palmieri); Verve V6-8651; 1966 (MGM LAT-10,008)
8Bamboleate (w/Eddie Palmieri); Tico SLP-1150; 1967 (LPS-88806; 1977)
6Along Comes Cal; Verve V6-8671; 1967
8The Best of Cal Tjader; Verve V6-8725 (compilation)
6Hip Vibrations; Verve V6-8730; 1968
7The Prophet; Verve V6-8769; 1968 (arr. & cond. Don Sebesky)
8Solar Heat; Skye SK-1; 1968 (w/Joao Donato, Ray Barretto, arr. Gary McFarland)
6Cal Tjader Plugs In; Skye
6On a Gentle Note; Muse MR-5168; 1978
Cal Tjader: La onda va bien; Concorde Picante CJP-113
Cal Tjader: Gozame! Pero ya; Concorde Picante CJP-133
Cal Tjader: The Shining Sea; Concorde Picante CJP-159 (w/Scott Hamilton)
Cal Tjader: A Fuego Vivo; Concorde Picante CJP-176
Cal Tjader: Heat Wave; Concorde Picante CJP-189 (w/Carmen McRae)
6Cal Tjader: Good Vibes; Concorde Picante CJP-247; 1984

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