Tamba 4 "California Soul" LP coming for Black Friday

GregCaz

New Member
Hi Everybody,
I'm sort of new here though I remember participating in a few threads on this site way back, about 20 years ago. I just thought I'd chime in on the Tamba 4 "California Soul" LP which I helped finally get released. I had known about its existence for a long time but it wasn't until I brought it up to my old buddy, notorious jazz sleuth Zev Feldman about five years ago that the ball finally got rolling and the tapes suddenly materialized in Universal's other vault, the one that didn't go up in flames, which is located in New Jersey. As a notorious aficionado and collector of all things Brazilian (as well as many other things of course) I'm a big Tamba Trio/4 fan who adores We And The Sea and Samba Blim so it's been a great honor to help unearth their followup. I agree that it's not really as powerful as WATS or even SB (which I love for a different set of reasons) but I just wanted to fill the historical gap regardless...and I do enjoy it for what it is. I really wanted a gatefold and lobbied for it but the budget only allowed for a single sleeve and Kevin Gray's fantastic cutting job. I tried really hard to get in contact with Bebeto Castilho through my many friends in Rio but he's kind of crotchety these days at 80 and can't really be bothered to answer questions about stuff from 50 years ago. The most I was able to get out of him, through a third party, was that "Value Of Love" (listed under that title on Doug Payne's website) was written by one Michael Randi, a NY-area pianist who briefly played with them while Luiz Eça had to make a quick trip back to Rio to tend to personal matters. Zev felt it more prudent to simply list "Copyright Control" where the songwriting credit should be. I hope this helps to clarify some of your questions about this release. As for a digital release, of course I think there should be one but as of right now that's not my call to make.
 

Harry

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Hi Greg,

I actually recall you having been here - the name just sounded familiar to me as a longtime inhabitant here. Thanks for the update and your efforts with this release. The gatefold would have been nice, but them it's not really essential. Having the printed sheet with the liner notes is quite good enough. I'm still not sold on the "Value Of Love" thing - it really does sound like that Dori Caymmi track.
 

GregCaz

New Member
You're very right, it does sound virtually identical to "De Onde Vens?" But Bebeto made a point to insist that it wasn't. So we just decided to play it safe. I'm hoping that this won't be the sole edition of this release and that we can tweak and adjust the info on any future reissue. It's crazy, making this release happen was a strange mix of months going by without a peep from anybody regarding the project interspersed with flurries of urgent deadlines due last week. A classic case of "hurry up and wait" right up until I was actually holding the finished product in my hands.
 

GregCaz

New Member
You're very right, it does sound virtually identical to "De Onde Vens?" But Bebeto made a point to insist that it wasn't. So we just decided to play it safe. I'm hoping that this won't be the sole edition of this release and that we can tweak and adjust the info on any future reissue. It's crazy, making this release happen was a strange mix of months going by without a peep from anybody regarding the project interspersed with flurries of urgent deadlines due last week. A classic case of "hurry up and wait" right up until I was actually holding the finished product in my hands.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
It's crazy, making this release happen was a strange mix of months going by without a peep from anybody regarding the project interspersed with flurries of urgent deadlines due last week. A classic case of "hurry up and wait" right up until I was actually holding the finished product in my hands.
So yes, pretty much like other reissue projects I've heard of! 😁

It's an important part of A&M's, CTI's and the Tamba group's histories, so it's good someone finally saw fit to rescue it from the vaults.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
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It just warms my heart to see that classic A&M label spinning around on the turntable. My compliments to the compilers, organizers, and the mastering team. This was a project well worth doing. Hopefully J & K's STONEBONE will get a similar treatment someday.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
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It just warms my heart to see that classic A&M label spinning around on the turntable. My compliments to the compilers, organizers, and the mastering team. This was a project well worth doing. Hopefully J & K's STONEBONE will get a similar treatment someday.
I was thinking the same for Stonebone.

I would like to see all of the A&M CTi albums released in high-res also. The two Jobim albums are already out!
 

Moritat

Active Member
Sad to hear that this lp is reminiscent of "Samba Blim". Blim was such a disappointment after buying and enjoying the underrated and brilliant "We And The Sea".
 

Harry

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Side Two, without the vocals, is the better of the two sides. I wonder if there was thought to interspersing the vocals and instrumentals and whether that would "improve" the album?
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
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I've played the actual record maybe five or six times, two the other night. But looking at Roon, I've played the needle drop 14 times. I haven't had time with the holiday rush to work on my "official" review but now that I've gotten used to it, I have a better handle on what's happening. A few random observations....

  • Vocal vs. instrumental: I like having the separation of the two sides. It makes me miss the days of LPs in general, when an album was two distinct sets of tunes.
  • Luiz Eça, where are you? We hear some electric piano but there's none of the dazzling piano work he has done on many previous recordings. Although he arranged horns/strings (I'd probably call this the Creed Taylor Philharmonic :D ) on all but three of the orchestrated tunes, and it's probably his voice singing solo on a couple of the tracks. (Although it's hard to tell since the vocals are recorded so muddy.)
  • This album is more lively and upbeat than the subdued Samba Blim. Other than the dopey album closer "Here, There and Everywhere," which reeks of "time for a token Beatles tune."
  • My thoughts of Tamba Trio/4 being a guest on their own album kind of rings true on many of the orchestrated tracks--you could lift those tracks off of the album and place them on any CTi album in this era and they'd sound the same. While the remaining tracks are very competently played, a lot of the personality of what Tamba Trio/Tamba 4 is all about, is sometimes absent here.
  • Why do Van Gelder's CTi recordings all sound like muck? Samba Blim is the worst of the three--it seems like it was recorded under a wool blanket. California Soul is not quite so bad, though. I would bet Kevin Gray cleaned up a little of that in mastering.

There is still nothing like We and the Sea--it's an anomaly in their catalog. Tamba Trio's gig was short, energetic three minute Bossa Nova/jazz tunes. The other two Tamba 4 CTi recordings are pop/jazz. Two of We and the Sea's three showcase tunes ("O Morro" and "Consolation") are jazz/Bossa theme-and-variations mini-suites that take all sorts of twists, turns and mood changes, all filtered through the tight, seemingly telepathic Tamba Trio interplay; "Chant of Ossanha" is a singular idea but resonates with Tamba's touches. The rest, although being short, are like mood pieces or tone poems (especially "Iemanja" and "Dolphin").
 

LPJim

Well-Known Member
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Moderator
Looking forward to receiving my copy, ordered from Ebay for $27 plus post. Quite likely had the album been released when new it would have been "SP 3021," the catalog later assigned to the Audio Master Plus sampler. I noticed the label scans mention SP 3041-A and B, but that number corresponded to Quincy Jones' YOU GOT IT BAD GIRL, released in 1973. Sure hope there's a CD issue, as well as reissues for the many A&M/CTI titles that have been out of print since their original issues for discontinued. Glad the recording survived the great fire too.

JB
 

Rudy

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I'm eliminating a few paragraphs (primarily background information on Tamba 4), but this is the meat of my "official" review:

California Soul goes even further into the typical A&M/CTi style and adds the horn and string accompaniment that adorned many of their labelmates’ albums. And like those albums, at times it seems as though Tamba 4 were guests artists on their own record. Yet those who found Samba Blim to be a bit sleepy and subdued will be glad to know that this record picks up the pace, brings the sound to the forefront, and makes for quite a pleasant pop/jazz album in the CTi style.​
Three of the tunes, including the title track (which is the Nick Ashford/Valerie Simpson tune, in case you were wondering), were conducted and arranged by Johnny Pate; the others were conducted and arranged by Luiz Eça, where typically these proceedings were helmed by Don Sebesky or Eumir Deodato. The album was shelved after it was recorded and Eça moved on to other projects.​
The album is seemingly split into two themes–the first side primarily features vocals, where the second is built around instrumentals. They give Milton Nascimento’s “Bridges” a lively update, Freddie Scott’s “Hey Girl” a subued take, and make a brisk instrumental arrangement of a hit by The Doors, refraining the vocal chorus in “Light My Fire.” “Na Onda do Berimbau” is one of the most lively tracks on the record. “Miss Balanço” and “Você e Eu” are two brisk numbers leading off the second side, which also includes the Dori Caymmi/Nelson Motta tune “De Onde Vens” (strangely titled “Value of Love” with no composer credit).​
The one drawback to this configuration of Tamba 4 is that the spirit of the original Tamba Trio is largely missing. We still get occasional tight vocal work, but there are none of the tight three-part harmonies from days past. And with Eça playing primarily electric piano, none of his dazzling piano brilliance is on display here. I wouldn’t say their energy is sapped completely, but their uniqueness is somewhat buried beneath all the arrangements.​
It is still a lively and fun listen, even if it’s not the Tamba Trio we remember from earlier albums. Anyone fond of the A&M/CTi sound will enjoy this one, especially if you’re hip to the late 60s/early 70s pop-jazz vibe going on here.​
Given the source, the recording sounds as good as it can, thanks to Kevin Gray’s expert mastering. And the album packaging is squarely in the A&M/CTi style, using Sam Antupit’s graphical layout style and two recently discovered Pete Turner photographs, the cover photo being a model photographed at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. No gatefold package, but we at least have an innersheet with liner notes. The record label itself, aside from a few modern brandings on it, would easily pass for a period-correct A&M label. For packaging, they nailed the details perfectly! The vinyl is good but not great–my copy has a little noise here and there, and also a very low-level “thump” from a very small ripple in the vinyl pressing (not audible all that often).​
Is this one a must-buy? The packaging is stellar and the sound quality is as good as it can get. Musically it’s probably not an essential purchase but, given its rarity, fans of both Tamba Trio/Tamba 4 and the output of CTi would be well advised to pick this one up. It is limited to 1,500 copies, with no digital release on the horizon. Although given its recent unearthing, I have a feeling it could end up with a digital release in the future.​
 

Rudy

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Sad to hear that this lp is reminiscent of "Samba Blim". Blim was such a disappointment after buying and enjoying the underrated and brilliant "We And The Sea".
It depends on what you liked or didn't like about Samba Blim. I can safely say that California Soul is more upbeat and perhaps "lighter on its feet" for lack of a better term. I always felt Samba Blim sounded like it was buried in some murkiness, which dampened the spirit of the recording. (I tend to think it was poorly recorded or mastered, which kind of muted the Tamba sound. ) On this new one, we don't hear the group quite as much, other than their vocals on side one. But Luiz Eca arranged and orchestrated the instrumental accompaniment on all but three of the tracks, and he is also playing electric piano here, which he didn't use on the previous two albums.

Since it's a bit livelier, you may actually prefer this one over Samba Blim, as I do now.
 

Rudy

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So I'm listening to "California Soul" from this compilation:

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It's most likely a needle drop of the 45 RPM single--it's mono, and has a bit of compression that isn't there on the LP version. Plus I think I heard a couple of very minor ticks. So it's safe to say no digital version of this tune exists (at least, not from the master tapes straight to digital).
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
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audiophile review said:
Late week our Publisher, Jerry Del Colliano, wrote an article on a somewhat controversial topic... but it was one that was not without merit: "What Is The Most Cliché Audiophile Album of All Time?"
AR-Tamba4Cover450.jpg Especially when it comes to recordings that were made in the early days of digital -- or simply recordings which feature heartless performances, albeit "good" sounding though they may technically be -- there are many overused recordings from the past used for demoing audio, music which may not have the broadest appeal in yee olde 21st Century tymes.
Think about it: how many well-off Millennials would be compelled to plunk down the dollars for a big system when it is being showcased playing "Dad Rock" or -- worse still -- what they consider "Yacht Rock." Sure, some of that stuff is popular with some of the younger generations but not for the reasons many of you and (in some instances) I might like them.
For example: many of us still love Steely Dan's Aja for its still mind numbing musicality: the brilliant playing, the innovative compositions, the stunning sonics, etc. Yet, many younger folks consider it a bit of fun kitsch, part of the afore-mentioned "Yacht Rock" movement, smooth tunes to be played alongside Jimmy Buffet, The Eagles, Toto, James Taylor and a host of others. Music to support all manner of Boomer-era indulgences (click here to go to Urban Dictionary's hilarious definitions, be sure to scroll down there for the second one).
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Point is: you can probably find some hepper things to spin to entice a broader base of listeners. Personally, I would play them tracks by Fleet Foxes (which I acknowledge some of you don't consider hep but that is another thing entirely; I think they are wonderful as did the near sold out crowd at Berkeley's Greek Theater a couple years ago)... Or perhaps they'd groove on Seu Jorge and Almaz (a record I first heard demo'd at Music Hall's suite a number of years ago at CES). Beck's Morning Phase and Grizzly Bear's first (Veckatimest) probably would go over better than Yes' "Roundabout" (and I say this as a huge Yes fanatic).
I would also play them Resonance Records' live 1976 archival Stan Getz / Joao Gilberto release from The Keystone in Berkeley because it is such a stunning hushed document (click here for my review of that).
To that, do understand that many of the cool kids into record collecting and DJ culture are more likely to be spinning obscure jazz and soul from the 50s, 60s and 70s than Pink Floyd or Dire Straits. When it comes to Bossa Nova Jazz, most Boomer-era folks fall back on Stan Getz' 1964 classic with Joao Gilberto (Getz/Gilberto) for showcasing that genre.
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If you are a bit more hipster these days you'll have recordings by Cal Tjader in your collection and some others. I have turned a number of people on to Vince Guaraldi's music (which some still only know from the Peanuts TV specials).
Several years ago I picked up a curious record at a garage sale by a Brazilian group named Tamba4 which put out two albums on A&M Records in 1967 (We And The Sea) and 1968 (Samba Blim). These records were early imprints of producer Creed Taylor's CTI label (then a subsidiary of A&M) and are lovely examples of the form. It turns out they were an important part of that Bossa Nova Jazz-Pop hybrid movement in the 1960s and were an outgrowth of the influential Tamba Trio. It also turned out that a lot of my taste-maker music friends on Facebook were very much into the group.
Released for Black Friday / Record Store Day late in 2019, producer Zev Feldman (Resonance Records, Blue Note Records) and acclaimed Brazilian music specialist DJ Greg Caz (both of whom I first crossed paths with on Facebook) put their heads together and pulled from the archives a long lost third album by Tamba 4!
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It is a gem. Recorded in 1969 by the legendary Rudy Van Gelder, the album -- California Soul -- immediately became highly sought after on Record Store Day and is already selling for upwards of $50 on collectors sites like Discogs.
The 180-gram vinyl is dark, quiet and well centered, mastered by Keven Gray of Cohearent Audio in a limited edition of 1500 copies. This new record was was cut straight from the original analog master tapes (a detail confirmed by co-producer Caz) so it has that sweet 1960s analog warmth thing going on.
California Soul is a lovely recording including tight Bossa Jazz flavored interpretations of hits of the day including those written by Ashford & Simpson, The Doors and The Beatles, among others.
The fidelity on this disc is quite rich, with nice highs and midranges to complement those fat Brazilian-flavored soul-jazz grooves. The music here is wonderful, upbeat, smooth and shiny (in a good way). There are crisp natural sounding cymbals and rich multi-part harmonies at times, all set to soulful swingin' sassy Bossa Jazz-Rock grooves. In many ways California Soul is an ideal demo disc!
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It also looks great, reproducing the look and feel of those early Tamba 4 releases (and the whole A&M era of CTI recordings). The producers were able to unearth an unused photo from the original photographer who did the original Tamba 4 albums. They even recreated the 1960s/early 70s style brown A&M Records label! This lovingly assembled package feels like the genuine article, what the album might have sounded and looked like had it been released in 1969, perhaps the only thing missing from the form is a gatefold sleeve (but you do get liner notes on an album-sized insert sheet).
Since this was a much sought after Record Store Day item, you may have to poke around your favorite independent -- brick and mortar, physical, terrestrial -- music store to find a copy. You can find California Soul up on Discogs as well (I haven't found any on Amazon yet but the other Tamba 4 albums are up there in a variety of formats). You can hear the first two Tamba 4 albums streaming in CD quality on some of the high resolution services. To jump to We And The Sea, click here for Tidal and here for Qobuz. For Samba Blim, click here for Tidal (alas it is not on Qobuz at present). Both sound good in basic 16-bit, 44.1 kHz CD quality.
Solid stuff here folks to kick off your New Year's listening and system demo sessions. Enjoy!
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
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immediately became highly sought after on Record Store Day and is already selling for upwards of $50 on collectors sites like Discogs.

Don't know about that but a few weeks ago, plenty of RSD copies near the $30 mark. That blog kind of over-hypes stuff just for clickbait.

If it was "highly sought after" as they said, it would have sold out like the Bill Evans "Black Forest" set from just a few years ago. Still plenty out there. Beyond us and Brazil music fans, Tamba Trio/Tamba 4 are pretty much an unknown entity.

And it's hardly "audiophile-worthy" sound. I still find it somewhat muddy like all the other CTi records. Still enjoyable though!
 

Mr Bill

Gentlemanly Curmudgeon
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Still looking for this. Apparently the Bossa craze never hit Texas!

Now if they'd just do this for K & JJ's StoneBone!

--Mr Bill
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
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I've been playing this new CALIFORNIA SOUL album a good bit. It's even gotten to be a bit of an earworm as over and over in my head I hear:

"Na onda do Berimbau, sk-zhing-zhing, sk-zhing-zhing..."
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
I've been playing this new CALIFORNIA SOUL album a good bit. It's even gotten to be a bit of an earworm as over and over in my head I hear:

"Na onda do Berimbau, sk-zhing-zhing, sk-zhing-zhing..."
That is probably the most addictive track on the record! Any time I think of the album now, that is the first track that comes to mind. It was the B-side for the A&M single back in the day (titled only as "Berimbau").

Still looking for this. Apparently the Bossa craze never hit Texas!
Plenty of copies on Discogs, or a good local record shop can order it if it's not in stock. Drop the Captain an email and he can clue you into the good stores near Austin.
 

Rudy

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Dang it...now I had to hear the earworm again. :laugh:

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(I have two needle drops with different cartridges, so this one is labeled with Nagaoka. To me the Nagaoka MP-500 sounds a little less "vague" than the Audio Technica AT-ART7 I was using a few weeks ago.)
 
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