Tamba 4 – California Soul


Tamba 4


Listen – California Soul MP3″

Greetings all.

We started out the week with a mix, celebrated the weekly tipping point with some tasty funk, and wind things up tonight with something sublime.
I’ve been a fan of Brazilian music most of my adult life, starting off with the popular bossa nova stuff that was released (with substantial success) in the US – starting with jazzbo/bossa collabs like Getz/Gilberto and moving on to Astrud Gilberto the Walter Wanderley Trio, and Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66.
Later on I found my way to (and fell in love with) Tropicalia via a Caetano Veloso best of CD, picking up just about everything I could find by Gilberto Gil, Os Mutantes, Gal Costa, Tom Ze as well as the mighty Edu Lobo, whose ‘Sergio Mendes Presents’ LP has become a favorite of mine.
I should add that although I have been an enthusiastic consumer of these sounds, I am hardly an expert, and I am aware that true Brazil nuts (heh, heh..Brazil nuts…) would see my level of involvement as a mere scratch of the surface.
One of the groups that I discovered over the years was Tamba 4.
That I (or anyone else outside of Brazil) know who they were has everything to do with their two late-60’s LPs being issued by CTI.
Both ‘Samba Blim’ and ‘We and the Sea’ are outstanding example of the kind of musical fusions that were created when native Brazilian sounds began to meld with jazz, pop and rock in the 60’s.
Formed in the early 60’s as the Tamba Trio (led by pianist Luiz Eca), the group was both successful and influential on the Brazilian scene (they even had the earlier hit version of Jorge Ben’s ‘Mas Que Nada’ in 1963, later recorded by both Sergio Mendes and Hugh Masekela).
In 1968, Eca reformed the band as Tamba 4 and recorded the two albums mentioned above for CTI.
Some years ago, after having purchased the CD reissues of the CTI albums, I was out digging somewhere when I turned up today’s selection, ‘California Soul’.
Written by Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson, the tune became a soul standard of sorts, with versions by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell, the 5th Dimension (a recording that I remember from my childhood), Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Gerald Wilson, and that crate diggers favorite, the break-heavy take by Marlena Shaw on Cadet*.

Tamba 4 recorded the tune in 1969 for a third CTI album that was never released, though there were apparently two promo 45s, of which this is one.
They take things at a brisk clip, layering electric piano and flute with a flashy horn section, and the arrangement – by Johnny Pate– is great. It would be great if CTI would release the rest of the session at some point.
Either way, it’s a groovy, swinging take on a fantastic song.
Have a most excellent weekend.

*Used by DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist in the Brainfreeze mix.

Buy Tamba 4 ‘We and the Sea’ at Amazon.com

14 Responses to “Tamba 4 – California Soul”

  1. fleamarketfunk Says:

    Great selection. Let’s not forget the versions by Brenda and the Tabulations, The Undisputed Truth, and the Messengers. (I got a little crazy on the California Soul for a bit).

  2. Allen Says:

    Great track and one that I had not heard of before. I’m a bit of a brazilian music obsessive and I was unaware that a third CTI album was recorded but never released. This CTI promo reminds me of a rare Sergio Mendes & Brazil ’77 promo only single “the crab” on A&M that isn’t on any of his albums, written by Joao Donato and not recorded anywhere else by anyone else that I know of. One of my favorite Sergio tracks, of which there are many. Can I ask what the other songs are on this promo EP? – Allen

  3. funky16corners Says:

    I’ll check when I get home. My recollection is that it has the same version of ‘California Soul’ on both sides (not even a mono/stereo deal) , though the discography I saw says that there was a 45 with ‘Berimbau’ on the flip.
    I’ll post a definitive answer this evening.

  4. funky16corners Says:

    The copy I have does indeed have California Soul on both sides, both the same stereo version.

  5. Roger Says:

    What a great version, a new one on me.

  6. Pete Reilly Says:

    A new one on me too! Looking forward to hearing this as soon as the download finishes.

    I love the Marlena Shaw version, a big Northern Soul tune over here in the UK, but the premier recording has to be Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell cut from 1969. Notwithstanding the fact that this may actually have been Valerie Simpson on vocals (deputising by then, through Tammi’s ill-health), this is an absolutely classy piece of soul.

    I first came across “Califonia Soul” through the UK Tamla Motown release of the almost-as-good “Good Lovin’ Ain’t Easy To Come By”, a 45 that prompted me to track down, on import, the gorgeous “Easy” album. This wonderful LP showcased not only “Good Lovin'” and “California Soul”, but also Marvin and Tammi’s sultry version of the Four Tops “Baby I Need Your Loving”, the Purify’s “I’m Your Puppet” as well as their duet version of “I Can’t Believe You Love Me”.

    Thanks for this post, Larry; think I’ll dig out the ‘Easy’ album and give it a fresh listen!

    Cheers; Pete

  7. Dan Says:

    Thanks Larry, this is fantastic. I love the Tamba 4’s two LPs on CTI/A&M, too (as well as the Jobim and Wanderley albums on the same label). Now I need to track down this 45!

  8. funky16corners Says:

    This is another one of those deals where I grabbed a cheap 45 (I think this was about $1.00) that turned out to be very scarce.
    Years ago – after posting a short review of this 45 in the Funky16Corners webzine I was contacted by a guy in Europe who aske me to record it so that it could be included on a comp. I made the guy a disc, mailed it to him and never heard from him again. If you find it on a comp, it’s probably my 45 your listening to.

  9. Natinho Says:

    “California Soul” completionists will want to know that there is another brazilian cover-version by Wilson Das Neves.

  10. Richard Warner Says:

    Thanks for posting this! Very cool. Tamba 4 did release a promo single backed with “Berimbau.”

    Doug Paybe’s excellent CTI Web site has more on the unreleased 3rd Tamba 4 album: http://www.dougpayne.com/ctiat4.htm

  11. California soul « Tom Van Hout Says:

    […] during his set at Minus One on Friday, much to my delight. Dig deeper on Funky16Corners (check the Latin version) and BreathofLife. And read the KickSnare interview with […]

  12. Tamer Says:

    hi everyone my name is Tamer and i live in Bulgaria it’s a little country in sud-est of europe, my friend call me tamba and now I see in google that there is lot of things with name Tamba and I am realy happy

  13. short attention man Says:

    …steve allen, jonah jones, rune gustafsson, mario said, bruce cloud, soul expression, the strangers and of course nick ashfords own version… If I had to have a favourite song, I would go with california soul.

  14. Funky16Corners Brings You a Taste of Brazil! « Funky16Corners Says:

    […] you haven’t heard any of their stuff, it has been reissued and some of it can be found in iTunes. I’m also reposting their very tasty, 45-only version of ‘California Soul’. Though I only ever knew of the Brazilian guitarist Bola Sete via his 1960s recordings with the […]

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