Forget The Cowbell! Give Me More Vibraphone, Please!

This week’s artist spotlight is on vibraphonist extraordinaire, Cal Tjader! I pride myself on being Cal’s #1 fan, and collector of every one of his albums, give or take a few. So, when I saw this album recently, took a look at the song list, the personnel, not to mention the action shot of Cal on the cover, smiling, mallets in the air, playing live for KHIP, an FM Jazz station out of San Francisco, I knew it had to come home with me. Prior to seeing it in person, someone in one of the exotica music groups I belong to on Facebook, had posted a YouTube of one of the songs on it, along with the shot of the album cover. I’d never seen this album before, and didn’t even know of its existence! (How this one managed to slip past my radar, all this time, I’ll never know.) Perhaps I attracted it to me, because I really wanted to find it after that….and about a week later, BAM! There it was, staring me in the face! And it was a red disc! I love colored vinyl records!

The album was recorded live at The Blackhawk in 1959 and features some mellow as well as fast rhythms. My favorite track is “Mambo Terrifico.” The musicians include:

Bass – Victor Venegas – Drums – Mongo Santamaria, Timbales – Willie Bobo – Flute – Rolando Lozano Piano – Lonnie Hewitt

If you don’t have this record, you need to get it! Some say Cal’s music isn’t exactly exotic, but it depends on what album you listen to, as well as what you consider exotic, really. Some of it is more Latin Jazz, some completely different, like Several Shades of Jade. What made Cal such a great musician, in fact, was his versatility and willingness to explore different musical landscapes. We play a lot of his music on our show because we feel it pairs well with exotica music, which contains lots of Afro-Latin rhythms. If you already love his music, this album is definitely one to add to your existing collection of Cal Tjader albums.

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