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Saturday, February 4, 2023

Along Comes Cal - Cal Tjader


Los Bandidos

Along Comes Cal
Cal Tjader
Compositions Arranged and Conducted by Chico O'Farrill
Produced by Creed Taylor
Cover Design: Any R. Lehman
Cover Art: Jo Grey/Marvin Hayes
Director of Engineering: Val Valentine
Recorded March 28 and 29, 1967 at Van Gelder Studios, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey
Engineer: Rudy Van Gelder
Los Bandidos only – recorded live at El Matador, S.F. January 1967
Verve V-8671

From the back cover: Whether or not the Alliance for Progress ever becomes anything more than a phrase of political rhetoric, the music world at least has long been aware of the value of our distant neighbors to the south. Cultural exchange (without the help of the State Department) has been going on between us for years.

Along Come Cal, represents the collaboration of a North American jazzman who became interested in Latin music, and a Latin American musician who became interest in jazz.

Cal is an unlikely candidate for expertise in Latin music, having been born in St. Louis, Mo., of Scandinavian background. His mother was a pianist, however, and his father a vaudevillian, so the music began early. Cal majored in music at San Francisco State College and, when he wasn't attending classes, he was playing drums and bongos with the Dave Burbeck Trio (ultimately to achieve fame as a quartet). From 1953 to '54 Tjader worked with the George Shearing Quintet.

It was while Cal was playing drums for Shearing that the changeover took place. He began listening with an intrigued ear to the propulsively rhythmic, oddly-accented music of Latin America. Later, as vibrant-harpist and leader of his own group, he began to explore the possibilities for mixing jazz improvisation with Latin rhythm. The results were vastly satisfying, both to himself and the public, and he continued in this direction until today he has one of the most successful Latin groups in America. It is also the most musical of Latin groups.

Cal's arranger, Chico O'Farrill was born in Cuba and first came to this country in the 1940s to play trumpet and write for the Benny Goodman band. (He subsequently wrote for San Kenton as well.) In the late '50s he moved to Mexico City where he wrote his First Symphony for performance by the Havana Philharmonic. He returned to New York in 1965. 

Chico scored all but one of the tunes in this album – Samba do Suenho.

Personnel on Bandidos and Suenho is Armando Peraza, conga drum; Al Zulaica, piano; Stan Gilbert, bass and Carl Burnett, drums. The eight other tracks are played by Armando Peraza and Ray Barretto, Latin percussion; Grady Tate, drums; Bobby Rodriguez, bass; Chick Correa, piano and Derel Smith, organ.

Most of the material, with the conspicuous exception of Round Midnight, the arrangement for which, O'Farrill admits, was written tongue-in-cheeck, is Latin in origin. "Everybody approaches Round Midnight so seriously, we decided to have a little fun with it."

Of Cal's own work on the dates, Chico said, "He's a marvelous musician, not in any way flashy. Taste is his big quality. Like Count Basie, he gets his message across without pyrotechnics, and he has a great sense of responsibility. For example, before each date he took the parts home and studied them. A lot more musicians should do that before they record!" – Gene Lees

Quando Quando Que Sera
Round Midnight
Trick Or Treat
Yellow Days
Our Day Will Come
Along Comes Mary
Los Bandidos
Green Peppers
Samba Do Suenho

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