The latest post on Steve Cerra’s Jazz Profiles blog is about S. Duncan Reid’s biography of Cal Tjader (1925-1982). The subtitle of Reid’s book identifies Tjader as “The Man Who Revolutionized Latin Jazz.” There may be those who assert that Dizzy Gillespie, Machito and Tito Puente should get at least equal credit as revolutionaries in the field, but there is no question that Tjader’s pioneering attracted huge attention to Latin idioms. He was as successful in mainstream as in Latin jazz. Among the major sidemen he attracted were Eugene Wright, Clare Fischer, Vince Guaraldi Al McKibbon, Paul Horn, Willie Bobo, Mongo Santamaria and the brilliant young bassist Freddie Schreiber. In the course of his career, he managed to gain the respect of his peers in Latin music, sell large numbers of records, and fill clubs, concert halls and jazz festivals.
Without being a spoiler, Cerra summarizes the book by quoting from it and from Tjader admirers including Hank Jones, Scott Hamilton and critic Ted Gioia. He incorporates two well-chosen videos of Tjader in performance. I don’t wish to be a spoiler either, so here’s Tjader in a different video, as a guest with Gillespie. Whoever posted this on YouTube gave no information about when and where the performance was taped, but I am reasonably certain that the voice at the end is that of Jimmy Lyons, the impresario of the Monterey Jazz Festival. He mentions flutist Roger Glenn, and Mickey Roker on drums. The guitarist looks like Al Gafa, the electric bassist like Earl May. That indicates the early 1970s. I am unable to identify the conga drummer and the miscellaneous percussionist. Perhaps you can.
Full disclosure: I wrote the foreword to the Duncan Reid book, and I approve this plug.