The Cal Tjader Thread

Rudy

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The rarity:

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Tracklist​

A1Summertime6:47
A2222 Time4:23
A3Noonie's Groove4:52
A4This Can't Be Love4:33
B1Stablemates4:26
B2Weep6:46
B3Fred's Ahead3:49
B4Stompin' At The Savoy5:20

  • Bass – Freddy Schreiber
  • Drums – John Rae
  • Piano – Lonnie Hewitt
  • Vibraphone – Cal Tjader
 

JOv2

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Look what just flew in 4 hours ago!

With all this Cal talk, I realized I had missed this one 20 years ago as part of the Verve US mini-LP CD re-issue program...so I nabbed this fine specimen.

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Rudy

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You scored a good one! 👍👍

What's interesting is that Verve has kept these available for download and streaming, so they're not completely lost to time. So for those who can't locate the CD or a clean vinyl copy, it's one remaining way to get them.

My Whiffenpoof I remember finding in a dollar bin, and it's quite ratty. G+ is about as good as I'd rate it--quite scratched but at least it had no places where it skipped or got stuck. So I was thankful when the CD came out not too long after I discovered it.
 

JOv2

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You scored a good one! 👍👍
Yeah, I've played it three times already. Solid outing and my favourite setting for Cal.

Their must be a story behind the LP title and cover art. I've been digging though LPs since 1968 yet know of no other album that featured a photo of a fat owl. (No kidding, based on his gut, he's surely a captive -- i.e. well fed -- bird!)
 

Rudy

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Verve would have wanted a follow-up to Soul Sauce. (It was Tjader's hit album, selling about 150,000 copies originally, and being nominated for a Grammy.) So I think that probably meant that the word "soul" had to be in the title somewhere. What made someone randomly pull "Soul Bird" out of a bag of words is puzzling for sure. Maybe someone thought "whiffenpoof" sounded like the name of a bird? (The traditional definition is one of an imaginary animal; there was also a hoax written about a bird species called the Woofenpoof about a century ago.) I do like the photograph! But of all the birds to pick for an album cover, the owl certainly was a curious choice. Yet he does cop an attitude in his pose. 😁

I really like the album Soul Burst also. Chick Corea does some nice work on that one, and one of his tunes is features on side two ("Oran"). His soloing on a few of the tracks reminds me a lot of his later work--"Descarga Cubana" is one track where he is featured, and I can really hear it here. Tjader heard the tune on a Panart LP out of Cuba by Cachao:



Rearranged:

 

JOv2

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Verve would have wanted a follow-up to Soul Sauce. (It was Tjader's hit album, selling about 150,000 copies originally, and being nominated for a Grammy.) So I think that probably meant that the word "soul" had to be in the title somewhere

Soul Sauce
Soul Bird
Soul Burst

and of course, The New Soul Sound

OK. I get it; but a bird -- and an owl to boot? I like owls a great deal, but they don't conjure up any feeling of soul...at least in a 1965 musical sense. I'm sure the LP cover raised a lot of eyebrows. (Imagine what the response and sales would have been if the soul bird was a turkey? 😁)
 

Rudy

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Maybe "Soul Pigeon" was already taken? 😁

Some of those Verve album covers were a precursor to CTi. Seeing that Creed Taylor had his hand in it, the covers during his time there make sense. The Olga Albizu paintings on all those Stan Getz Bossa Nova albums (and Trio '64), some of the Tjader covers (Soul Bird, Soul Burst, Warm Wave, etc.), and plenty of others that were "artsy" in an abstract sort of way.

Once you hear The Prophet, you'll also get a mild case of CTi deja vu. It was produced by Esmond Edwards, but you have Don Sebesky string arrangements and the flute of Hubert Laws throughout. I'm thinking this was fairly near the time that Creed Taylor launched his CTi label with A&M.
 

JOv2

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Was spinning this LP today. I rarely play the last song (because, er, well...let's just say even the charm of Clark Terry can't save it...); nevertheless, Cal's mentioned in the lyrics -- so here you go...

(Oh, this was a take-off on Ray Connff's Happiness Is, which, like Herb's Mexican Shuffle, became part of a coast-to-coast ad campaign that ultimately popularized the song.)
 

Moritat

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Regarding Cal's lps on Verve, I think the Several Shades Of Jade / Breeze From The East cd gives you the best & worst in one package. In the Downbeat revue, they referred to Several Shades Of Jade as "commercial jazz at it's sophisticated best", and that's a good description. I think "Almond Tree" & "China Nights" from Jade are among Cal's best Verve tunes. Breeze was pretty much pop oriented tunes that didn't hold much interest, and I understand Tjader's disappointment. I also really like Soul Bird/Whiffenpoof as an excellent lp which has a strong lineup of choice tunes. And the LP, Contemporary Music Of Mexico & Brazil was the first Tjader lp I ever owned. While not up to the excellence of Jade & Soul Bird, I have a fondness for it.
 

TjbBmb

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Plays Contemporary Music From Mexico and Brazil was my first Cal Tjader record as well. I bought it because Bernie Fleischer was on it.
 

Rudy

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That Mexico/Brazil album has a nice tune that closes the album, one of my favorites.
 

JOv2

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I also really like Soul Bird/Whiffenpoof as an excellent lp which has a strong lineup of choice tunes.
I've had this for about four three weeks now. Wonderful LP (even with an overweight owl on the cover).
 

Rudy

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Jumping to the next two playlists in the series...

This combines the two Tjader/Eddie Palmieri albums into one playlist, with a track rearrangement to keep things interesting. These albums are more aligned with Palmieri due to being performed with his La Perfecta band. Since Verve would initially not let Tjader record for another label, Verve and Tico Records made a deal where the duo would release one album on each label. I'm a fan of Palmieri's, so these albums work well for me.



Highlights for me are "Los Jibaros," Tito Puente's "Picadillo" (which by now has become a Latin standard), "Samba do Sueño" (which later appeared on Along Comes Cal), "Poncho's Seis por Ocho" and "Mi Montuno."


The Skye Records era is a mixed bag. Plugs In is a good live gig, and Solar Heat is a fairly good updating of Tjader's sound. But I can't say that the Sounds Out Burt Bacharach album worked all that well--it's more like an MOR gig, with no Latin or jazz finding its way to the studio that day. It's still good but not essential, and you could easily walk on by this one.

There was a set of tapes in the vaults for another live gig, which ended up being released years later by DCC as Latin + Jazz = Tjader. (DCC had acquired the rights to reissue the Skye albums for a while--the label has changed hands often.) Confusingly it adds "Nica's Dream" from Plugs In to extend the running time.

Here's a Skye playlist, an hour-long cherry picking of selected tracks from all four of these releases.



It didn't take long for Skye Records to implode. It was founded by Norman Schwartz in collaboration with musicians Gary McFarland, Gabor Szabo and Cal Tjader. The label did not do well financially, and Tjader bailed after three albums, not wanting to record a fourth for a label headed for bankruptcy. McFarland carried on for a while, but Skye sold out to a film production company who had planned to use the label to release film soundtracks. But it then ended up in Buddah's hands, and has been punted seemingly more than a football at all the Rose Bowls combined.
 

JOv2

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But I can't say that the Sounds Out Burt Bacharach album worked all that well--it's more like an MOR gig, with no Latin or jazz finding its way to the studio that day.
Agreed. While I do like the album, it's really a pop outing with the emphasis on ensemble work while the improvisations are clearly subdued. (Relatively speaking, it makes those Wes Montgomery / Creed Taylor affairs come off like a mid '60s Miles LP. As such I file it in with the '60s pop, between Sonny Terry the The Turtles.)


The Skye Records era is a mixed bag...It didn't take long for Skye Records to implode. It was founded by Norman Schwartz in collaboration with musicians Gary McFarland, Gabor Szabo and Cal Tjader
Some of the problem lay with McFarland. While I enjoy his LPs, when he's in the producer's chair, he has a way of sucking the jazz away from jazz musicians. He produced Cal's Bacharach LP -- as well as Gabor's Skye LPs.
 
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Rudy

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So far I can't find any producer credit for Solar Heat but based on the covers I've seen, McFarland is listed as arranger, and the way the liner notes read, he seemed to have been acting in a producer's role as well. Can't say I ever warmed to this album either. We had it in the house but I recall my mother listening mostly to Plugs In more than the other two Skye albums. It was interesting to see that Tjader covered the "Tra-La-La Song" which was the theme to The Banana Splits TV show, although it didn't stick to most of the melody.
 

JOv2

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I recall my mother listening mostly to Plugs In more than the other two Skye albums
Man, your mother was hip. My mom was listening to Billy Vaughn though she also liked Doc Severinsen and Al Hirt!
 

Rudy

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Man, your mother was hip. My mom was listening to Billy Vaughn though she also liked Doc Severinsen and Al Hirt!
She was the one to take chances, and was the one who also owned the Paul Desmond records, among other things. My dad was more into the easy listening and lounge music, along with a few "ethnic" records based on our heritage. If there were any Cuban or Mexican records in the house, those were also my mother's doing. 😁
 

Harry

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My mom wasn't really into recorded music much. She was happy listening to WIP, a big AM station in Philly that played the Tony Bennett stuff alongside the Chipmunks. Lots of gabby DJs.

Dad was somewhat into jazz having played the drums in some small, local aggregations in his younger day. He had scarce few records except those that he used as his soundtracks to the home movies he made on 16mm film. One of them was a very early Creed Taylor project called SHOCK MUSIC IN HI-FI. He used that one for an attempt at a spooky film with some crude special effects. Well, this was the late 50s in the suburbs of Philly...



Continued here...
 
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Rudy

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I don't know when she listened to music on the radio, but she did have her transistor radio going in the kitchen. Normally we'd be listening to a local talk radio station which was unlike the others--it didn't go for news, "talking heads" or politics or shows of that nature, but had programs like "Ask Your Neighbor" where a listener would call in with a question, and other callers would reply with the solution, or recipe, or whatever it was. Yet she'd hear about these records somewhere and end up buying them. I don't know if it was while I was at school that she listened to a different radio station, or if maybe that talk radio had interviews or features that might have featured these records, but she certainly knew enough about them. (She worked freelance from home during the school year, so it's possible she stopped at a record store during the day also.)

My dad was the visual buyer. If the jacket "sold" him on the record, he'd buy it. That might explain the purchase of the one Martin Denny LP that I never heard him listen to. 😁
 

Rudy

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A treat for those familiar with the early Fantasy years:



 

Rudy

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Two more tunes below, which were two of the first eight tunes Tjader cut for Fantasy.

Galaxy was a sister label to Fantasy. Notice the early name of the company on all of these records: Circle Record Co. Brothers Max and Sol Weiss ran a plastics and chemicals company, founded by Sol prior to WWII, that made them millionaires. A walk-in customer asked if they pressed records and, not too long after, they founded a record pressing operation. The Weiss brothers were not music-friendly, especially Sol, but Max finally influenced his brother to deal with a studio and a roster of musicians. Still, they had no feel for the music industry, and had no musical sense to know if a recording was good or not.

They founded the Fantasy and Galaxy labels as a tax write-off, but success of the recordings proved otherwise. They brought on Saul Zaentz, who late in the 1960s with investors, bought the label from the Weiss brothers. Zaentz was partly responsible for hooking Fantasy up with Creedence Clearwater Revival, whose album sales funded the construction of a new studio and headquarters for Fantasy.

In the meantime, the Weiss brothers found ways to cheat their artists out of royalties. Vince Guaraldi's third album, Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus, became a hot seller after two that did not create much excitement, but the way his contract was worded, it gave Max Weiss a piece of all of Guaraldi's future earnings (as Weiss figured Guaraldi would get popular and move to another label). A lawsuit followed, of course. For Dave Brubeck, he was promised 50% ownership of the label, but turns out he owned 50% of only his own recordings. Tjader politely informed the Weiss brothers he was moving on (as was his non-confrontational way) but he, too, suffered under the lack of promotion, despite his records selling in decent numbers and being enormously popular in the bay area in the 50s. Verve offered greener pastures and Tjader moved along.

Here's the A and B side of the 78 RPM record, recorded in November 1951. Two other sides were cut in November, with the remaining four cut in August and September that year with John Marabuto on piano rather than Vince Guaraldi. Tjader met bassist Jack Weeks via his time in the Brubeck Trio, after bassist Ron Crotty was drafted into the Korean War.

"Chopsticks Mambo" spins off a popular piano tune, as Tjader hops between percussion instruments.


"Vibra-Tharpe" was written in honor of local bay area DJ Jim Tharpe.


And from June 1950, another Dave Brubeck Trio record, with Cal on bongos.

 

Rudy

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I don't know why, but I get fascinated watching familiar tunes played on old 78s. "Wachi Wara" is one of those tunes I grew up listening to, from Mom's LP Cal Tjader's Greatest Hits on Fantasy. Never tire of that tune, or that record.
 

Rudy

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Here's the fourth installment--the second Fantasy era, featuring a 17-song playlist.


Pretty cool that I started it off with Airto's "Tombo in 7/4" (the original version is from Airto's CTi album Fingers). "Amazonas" is a Joao Donato tune, and "Tereza My Love" via Jobim.

My favorite album of the second Fantasy era is Guarabe, which Fantasy reissued under the title Here and There (as it's a two-fer with the album Here).
 

JOv2

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Finally, an affordable copy (i.e. below $20: one of those "best offer" deals -- and the seller went with it). I've had a slot waiting for this one for about 3 months on...😀

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Rudy

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Did you get a DCC Jazz copy of it? I bought them back in the 90s when they were more readily available. Anything on the Skye label was unfortunately punted around once Buddah took over. (I have a vinyl copy of Solar Heat on the Gryphon label that sounds odd and I think it also had a channel imbalance. The original vinyl sounds better than the Gryphon.)

Reminds me, I need to link to the final installment of Tjader playlists later this evening.
 
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