Archive for June 25th, 2007

Cal Tjader Meets the Jackson Five

June 25, 2007


Mr. Cal Tjader


Listen – I Want You Back MP3″

Listen – Never Can Say Goodbye MP3″

Greetings all.

I hope everyone had a groovy weekend.
Mine ended up groovy, after a very freaky start.
So…I’m off to work on Friday morning, all aglow with a feeling of accomplishment that I got the latest Funky16Corners Radio joint up and in place on Thursday night. I head down the highway by work so that I can get myself a big cup of coffee (what I’ve come to refer to as “daddy’s wake up medicine”).
I get the coffee.
I start back up the road to close out yet another week of wage slavery.
I’m about half way there (it’s less than a mile from coffee to desk) and I spot something fall off the back of a truck about a hundred yards ahead of me. At first it looks like garbage (something light and harmless), but after about a second I realize that it’s something heavy, and after about half a second more that something cartwheeled up off the pavement and headed straight for my head. I made an attempt to swerve out of the way, but it was all happening too fast, and the next thing I know my just bitten bagel is full of glass.
After I was able to pull over and look in the highway, I was able to ascertain that that mystery projectile was actually a 30 – 40 pound cast iron trailer hitch. A stroke of luck, and the wonder of safety glass prevented last Friday’s post from being my last, but just barely. Aside from the obvious – like I enjoy life with my head attached securely to my shoulders, I’m just glad that I didn’t end up plowing into another car.


I called the police, then ran out into the highway to retrieve the hitch, both as evidence and to keep someone else from hitting it. Fortunately, as the police were writing up the report a woman pulled over to report that she had followed the truck that spawned the hitch, gotten his license plate number and informed him that his poorly attached hitch had almost killed someone (to which he apparently responded with a shrug, and continued on his merry way). The police said they would be making an attempt to “reach out” to that driver.
I managed to convince the police to let me drive the car home, which was of course a laugh riot with wind and windshield fragments blowing into my face the whole way.
Anyway, I came out of this mishap shaken (not stirred), and wary of what this was going to end up costing me, but stumbled into a fantastic weekend in which I got to spend two afternoons at the beach with my kids, reading, listening to some tunes and engaging in some serious therapeutic chill-o-fication, enough so that I’m back here Sunday night hammering away at the keyboard.
Ain’t life grand?
That said, today’s post is yet more fruit from my spring vacation digs, and features a couple of jazzy/groove selections from one of my fave vibraphonists, Mr. Cal Tjader.
While I was flipping through LPs in Saratoga, I happened upon a Tjader LP that I had never seen before entitled ‘Last Bolero In Berkeley’, which just happened to feature a couple of excellent covers of Jackson Five tunes.
In brief, Tjader was one of the great musicians to come out of the world of Latin jazz, starting his career as a sideman with George Shearing, then forming his own combo in the mid-50’s that would eventually feature the likes of Mongo Santamaria, Willie Bobo and Vince Guaraldi as sidemen. Tjader is best known for his thunderous dancefloor filler ‘Soul Sauce’, which is not only one of the great vibes records of all time, but an outstanding hunk of boogaloo as well.
Following his years with Verve in the 60’s, Tjader returned to the Fantasy label, where he recorded ‘Last Bolero In Berkeley’ in 1973.
That LP features Tjader playing with a couple of different groups, including cats like Merl Saunders and Paul Humphrey, and working in straight jazz, groove and poppy settings.
The number that caught my eye when I flipped the sleeve over was ‘Never Can Say Goodbye’, which just happens to be one of my all time favorite songs. Whether you’re talking about the mellower Jackson Five version, or the Gloria Gaynor disco epic (there’s also a very nice version by Grant Green that I’ll have to post some day), the song sports an absolutely beautiful melody, and Tjader’s interpretation of the tune is stellar.
His take on ‘I Want You Back’ gets a little funkier, moving into the latin bag, with a very nice percussion breakdown along the way.

If you’re out digging, Tjader vinyl, especially his 1960’s Verve stuff – which I recommend highly – is pretty easy to find. If you also dig your Latin jazz a little jazzier, his first (1950’s) Fantasy Records period is a little harder to find but also outstanding.  Much harder to come by, but also excellent are the albums he recorded for Skye in the late 60’s.

Tjader continued playing and recording until his untimely death in 1982.

As always I hope you dig the sounds, and we’ll meet again midweek, same Bat time, same Bat channel.




My guest set for the Galactic Fractures radio show/site has been posted at their site. Download the entire show, which starts out with my set and concludes with a set by your host PJ Gray.