Cal Tjader Meets the Jackson Five


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.

11 Responses to “Cal Tjader Meets the Jackson Five”

  1. Pete Gloria Says:

    Your rusty-iron/crushed glass-bagel-topping-related driving mishap reminds me of somebody’s description of a portly fella’s claim to be on a crash diet as being indeed happy to crash into the back of a pie van with his mouth open…!

    If i can add my two cents to the funky jazz tune pot Cal Tjader’s genius cover of ‘Along Comes Mary’ stretches the term ‘cover’ beyond the point of no return and is so laid back it’s standing on its head. As is Isaac Hayes’ version of Never Can Say Goodbye which is smokin.

  2. geepwr Says:

    so glad you’re still with us

    oh yes indeed
    cal tjader is new to me but not for much longer
    thanks as ever

  3. Adam Says:

    What an amazing story, and an amazing Jackson 5 cover. Glad you’re still alive and playing the funky music!

  4. abarclay12 Says:

    Damn. Hell yeah I’m glad you’re still with us. Shit.

  5. Vincent Says:

    Yes indeed, God was on your side. Thankfully it’s only a matter of a couple hundred bucks for a windscreen and not astronomical sums in hospital fees, or worse… I need to check eMusic for the Cal Tjader since my download totals have been refreshed and since they boast the lions share of the Fantasy catalog. I hope he’s there, and I hope things are going well with you…

  6. Colin Dilnot Says:

    Hey!! Near one!!!! Someone was looking after you???

    Take care and pleased to hear that you are safe and well!!


  7. Cover Tuesday, Pt. 25 « hahamusic Says:

    […] For more cover goodness, step on over to Funky16Corners for Cal Tjader’s amazing version of “I Want You Back” and a harrowing tale of […]

  8. lou Says:

    good to hear your safe! 🙂

  9. Art(uro) Says:

    Hey Larry,

    So good to hear you survived the attack. Don’t worry about that truck, the rest of us love what you’re doing!


  10. Guy Says:

    Wow, what a story. Glad to hear you weren’t hurt. Your story reminded me of my run-in with a trailer hitch about 10 years ago. I was cruising down Highway 10 at about 70mph when I saw the large hitch laying on the freeway in front of me and like you had only a second or two to react. I couldn’t swerve thanks to traffic, and I hit the thing…an immediate flat tire and upon closer inspection about $2K worth of damage to the left front of my Corolla. Like you I removed the hitch from the freeway to keep others from having the same misfortune.

    I hope you are able to get reimbursed for the damage.

    BTW, Thanks for the Tjader.

  11. Vonny LJ Says:

    Cal Tjader is missed more and more. What a loss. What a great
    talent …he left us with great music. Soul Sauce makes my
    favorite list. My brother danced latin dancing to this and it
    was unbelievable to see. Two masters……

    Thank you for your story and survival.

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