Freddie Schreiber was making a mark in Cal Tjader’s quintet when he died, far too young, in the 1960s. I remember him in Seattle in the mid-1950s as an aspiring bassist and an extremely witty man. He struggled to master the instrument, not with notable success. Later, within a period of two or three months, his hard work kicked in and he became a superb player. Tjader told me that he was thrilled to have Freddie on the band. Schreiber’s best recording with Tjader was Saturday Night/Sunday Night At the Blackhawk, San Francisco (Verve 8459). It has never been reissued on CD, which is a shame, but it can be found on web sites, including this one, that specialize in rare LPs. I have always liked the album. It includes, among other things, a marvelous version of Gary McFarland’s “Weep,” but in the July 5, 1962, Down Beat, reviewer John S. Wilson gave Saturday Night/Sunday Night a lukewarm once-over that ended with this:
Schreiber comes in for an occasional solo, but this scarcely relieves the generally monotonous sound of the group. The performances are loose and airy, but none of the soloists is sufficiently distinctive to raise the set out of an anonymous although generally pleasant rut.
A few issues later, Down Beat published a response from Schreiber that has been quoted by musicians for years.
I am the bass player with Cal Tjader’s group, and I have just finished reading John Wilson’s review of our latest record on Verve recorded at the Blackhawk (DB, Jul 5) I think Mr Wilson was very fair in putting down Cal and the other guys in the group, but I really think he should have listened to me more carefully. Evidently he did not listen closely to my angular, probing lines, and I am sure that not once did he take note of my relentless throbbing beat. I just hope that when our next album is released, which is entitled It Ain’t Necessarily Soul, that Mr Wilson pays more attention to my great playing–because, man–I’m too much!
And that’s one reason I miss Freddie Schreiber.