Unlike Vince Guaraldi's Grace Cathedral concert, vibraphonist Cal Tjader's was not a religious event. In fact, this quintet outing (which includes Lonnie Hewitt on electric piano and the young Poncho Sanchez on congas) is a fairly typical concert for the era, despite the location. As it turned out, Tjader was a replacement for Guaraldi, who had originally been scheduled but had recently passed away. The vibist's Latin jazz group performs the leader's "I Showed Them," Milt Jackson's swinging "Bluesology," a medley from Black Orpheus, and "Body and Soul."
Album recorded in September 1958 at a jazz club in San Francisco, the Blackhawk, where used to act Tjader with various musical groups after the dissolution of his previous 'Modern Mambo Quintet'. For this occasion Cal formed another quintet being accompanied by four musicians who were definitely headlining their specialties: the Cuban Mongo Santamaria (come to the U.S. 10 years ago and had worked with Perez Prado and Tito Puente), with congas and bongos; the New Yorker born in the 'Spanish Harlem' Willie Bobo with drummer and toms especially; bassist Al McKibbon, who had worked with Dizzy Gillespie in bop jazz and became a devotee of Latin jazz, and Californian pianist Vince Guaraldi, who had made his first recording in 1953 with Cal Tjader and had joined him in 1956.
This Fabulous release from the greatest Latin jazz vibraphonists features two albums on one disc. The albums, one recorded live and one a studio recording were recorded in 1968 and 1969 for Skye Records a label part owned by Tjader. Soul/ Jazz recordings made in the sixties have remained popular to this day in the clubs and Cal Tjader's popularity has not diminished in the least in fact he is still the most acclaimed Anglo musician ever to play Latin jazz.
It was only fitting that vibraphonist Cal Tjader launched the Concord Picante label with this release for Tjader did a great deal to popularize Latin-jazz. This was not his strongest effort (the solos of Tjader and flutist Roger Glenn are not all that substantial) but the drumming of Vince Lateano and the percussion of Poncho Sanchez keep the momentum flowing on these likable performances.
Vibraphonist Cal Tjader is in typically fine form on this live set from 1968. His quintet at the time featured Armand Perazza on congas and pianist Joe Kloess and his repertoire ranged from Afro-Cuban jazz to occasional straightahead tunes. Six of the eight selections on this date are originals by band members or Gary McFarland. Although Tjader had been playing this style of music for 15 years by this time, he still was quite creative and enthusiastic, and is heard throughout in excellent form.
The second album pairing Palmieri and Tjader, Bamboleate moves beyond El Sonido Nuevo into the respective territories of each artist. "Bamboleate" is the Latin cooker ones expects from Palmieri but didn't find on the more subdued El Sonido Nuevo. "Semejanza" is an equally affecting jazz lilt led by Tjader. Framed by a melody that could have come straight off the Vince Guaraldi Trio's Charlie Brown Christmas album, it has an equally indelible, locomotive rhythm. Tjader's samba, "Samba de Los Suenho," is a welcome departure from the relative rigidity of El Sonido Nuevo.
Total bomb from the Big Three - Cal, Charlie, Tito. A really hard-hitting set from Cal Tjader and one that's done with a good dose of 60s Latin Soul as well! The album was recorded in the early 70s, but it's really got a late 60s New York flavor thanks to arrangers Charlie Palmieri and Tito Puente who cook up a groove that's sockingly soulful, and much more outta site than some of Tjader's other work from the time!
Cal Tjader's Brazilian explorations continue and actually deepen with this release, as he joins forces with a host of progressive young Brazilian musicians, all overseen by producer Airto Moreira. By now, Tjader had figured out how to fit into the blend, doing so by losing himself in the complex mix of Afro-Brazilian rhythms, American funk and 1970s-era electronics, integrating his own identity for the sake of the ensemble. Indeed, Tjader actually appears on marimba on tracks like Joao Donato's "Amazonas" and his collaboration with Hermeto Pascoal, "Mindoro," his playing taking on a more brittle edge as a result.
"…But overall, these performances are more cool jazz than soul-jazz. Soul Bird: Whiffenpoof (which Verve reissued on CD in 2002) isn't among Tjader's essential albums, but it's an enjoyable demonstration of the vibist's ability to be a bit more commercial than usual and still maintain his bop-based integrity." ~allmusicguide