Cal Tjader

Biography

Cal Tjader, the mild-mannered Clark Kent of jazz, became Superman onstage. He combined cool West Coast jazz with Latin rhythms in such a way that pleased both general and jazz publics. Tjader began as a drummer and vibes player with Dave Brubeck and while in New York with George Shearing, he began going to Latin clubs. He sat in with Tito Puente in San Francisco and the audience reaction was so positive that they played to SRO crowds for weeks. Tjader's Mambo albums on Fantasy sold much better than his straight jazz records (e.g. his work with Stan Getz, as well as his own quartet dates). But regardless of the setting he was a fine soloist whose vibe work recalled that of Milt Jackson. In the mid-60s, Tjader began to experiment with his sound, delving into small group, Big Band and even Asian/Latin jazz. From this period, "Soul Sauce" remains one of only a handful of jazz hit singles to ever hit the marketplace. When he died during a concert in 1982, Cal Tjader was at the height of his powers

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