Sunday, March 25, 2012
AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Cal Tjader
Song:Soul Sauce (Guachi Guaro)
Vibraphonist Cal Tjader came out of the San Francisco jazz scene to become one of the main proponents of Latin Jazz in the 60s. The 1964 hit Soul Sauce is probably his signature song. He was born July 16, 1925 in St. Louis and grew up in San Mateo, CA. His parents were in vaudeville and opened a dance studio in San Mateo. His dad was a tap dancer and his mom played piano. So not surprisingly Cal Jr. learned to dance and play piano and performed with his parents as Tjader Junior. He even danced with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson in the film The White of the Dark Cloud of Joy. Tjader started playing drums and at age 16 won a Gene Krupa drum solo contest. But the WWII intervened and Tjader was an army medic. After the war, he attended San Francisco State with the intention of becoming a teacher. But he met Dave Brubeck in 1949 and formed a trio with Paul Desmond. He taught himself to play the vibraphone. Brubeck was injured in a diving accident so the group disbanded in 1951. Tjader worked for Alvino Rey and then George Shearing. He met bassist Al McKibbon who got Tjader into Latin Jazz. He formed his own group in 1954 and recorded for Fantasy Records for most of the 50s. Tjader moved to Verve Records in 1961 and he recorded his most popular recordings for Verve. The 1964 album Soul Sauce was probably his biggest success. The song Soul Sauce is actually the Dizzy Gillespie/Chano Pozo classic Guachi Guaro. Tjader wanted a catchier title and percussionist Willie Bobo thought Tjader's version was spicier than the original. Other musicians were pianist Lonnie Hewitt, drummer Johnny Rae and percussionist Armanda Peraza. The chanting was Bobo's idea. The album Soul Sauce is available on CD. Tjader continued to have success until he left Verve in 1969 to form Skye Records with guitarist Gabor Szabo and arranger composer Gary McFarland. The label closed in 1970 and McFarland died in 1971. Tjader signed with Fantasy Records but his attempt to mix his trademark Latin Jazz sound with Fusion didn't work. Tjader did discover percussionist Poncho Sanchez and Sanchez considers Tjader his musical "father". Tjader signed with Concord Jazz in 1979 and recorded for them until he died while on tour in the Phillippines on May 5, 1982 at age 56. At the time, Tjader's music was criticized as too commercial. In retrospect, his music holds up better than one might think. Cal Tjader deserves a lot of credit for popularizing Latin Jazz. Here's Cal Tjader performing Soul Sauce with Clare Fischer on piano, Poncho Sanchez on congas, Robb Fischer on bass and Vince Lateano on drums probably late 70s.