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Friday, December 15, 2023

Cal Tjader Plays The Contemporary Music Of Mexico And Brazil



Cal Tjader Plays The Contemporary Music Of Mexico And Brazil
The Exciting Bossa Nova Music Of Brazil!
The Moving Music Of Mexico's Mario Ruiz Armengol!
Played by Cal Tjader (courtesy of Capitol Records)
Featuring Laurindo Almeida
Arrangement by Clare Fischer
Produced by Creed Taylor
Recorded in Hollywood, California - March 5, 6 and 7, 1962
Cover Design by Blake Hampton
Engineering by Al Schmidt
Verve V6-8470

From the inside (gatefold) liner notes: Many people from this country are tremendously surprised upon their first visit to Mexico City to find such a high degree of culture and sophistication. They would be more expectant of bull fights and the usual imagery triggered by the word "Mexican." And this seems especially true when the music of Mexco is considered; mariachi music, bullfight music and the "La Cucaracha-El Rancho Grande" type of folk music.

When I first heard the songs of Mario Ruiz Armengol I responded in awe at the totality of their musical expression. Marios' harmonic sense was one that I had never encountered in most Latin music; melodies which in themselves were distinctive and lingered in your mind after only one hearing; profound emotional content without being hyper-romantic in conception. Some of them seemed almost brooding in character, filled with a feeling of melancholia and reflecting the depth of his personalty my wife Zoe Ann and I listened to this music and fell in love with it and have spent over a year and a half promoting it together.

Cal Trader responded to this same music in a line manner when I presented it to him and we immediately began to formulate plans for recording.

While this was going on, other things began to develop. Last spring I was introduced to a friend of the bassist Ralph Pena who was visiting this country from Sao Paulo, Brazil and he talked to us at length about a new kind of music that was being played in Brazil called the "Bossa Nova" which in slang terms might be like saying "the new bag" or  "new aptitude." When he returned home he sent us a record of Elite Cardoso (el-ee-SEH-tay car-DOH-zoh) a wonderful female singer from Brazil, that contained some of these songs. The rhythms were so infectious that, even though I usually don't dance much myself, I felt compelled to respond and out myself dancing away several hours. When I got up the next day I was  reminded of my enthusiasm by music soreness.

Then we were sent another album by our friend from Sao Paulo, José Homem de Mello. This time by a male singer and guitarist Joao Gilberto (who-OW-ohn zheel-BEAR-toh). I played these albums for Cal and we decided that they would be a perfect balance for the Mario Ruiz Armengol songs and as such we have put them together here in one album.

But in spite of the rhythmical contrast that we have, there turns out to be many similarities between this music from Mexico and that from Brazil. Most latin music has chosen to develop solely through rhythmic aspects but with very simple harmonic structure, usually comprise of very few hard changes. Brazil, probably through its cultural background and language differences, has developed something entirely different. The expanse of harmonies is much broader and a great deal more lush than the rest or Latin America. Here is where the music of Mario Ruiz Armengol has much in common. Mario's music, at last from a harmonic standpoint is quite Brazilian in its extensiveness and overall mood.

There are two personal contributions to this album. One written by Laurindo Almdida and titled Choro Batuque. Both the "Choro" and the "Batuque" are types of dances although the word choro translates literally into a weeping or crying. The mood of the choro is very haunting and  contrasts the more spirited batuque. Laurindo originally wrote this for soprano and guitar but here it is transcribed for vibes and piano with the rhythm section added for the batuque. The other one was written by me and called Elite, named for Elite Cardoso.

Just as most Jazz instrumentalist play in flat keys because of the facility on their instruments, great deal of the "Bossa Nova" was presented to me through the guitar which, due to the running of the open strings, makes things a lot easier to play in sharp keys. We have kept to the original sharp keys in their recording, which prompted Cal to joke to me that the album should one sub-titled "Cal Tjader plays in E major." – Notes by Clare Fischer

From Billboard - September 29, 1962: Strikingly-covered, excitingly performed album of Latin instrumentals. Most tunes are by Mario Ruiz Armengol, and are highly sophisticated. Clare Fischer's arrangements of the Mexican-Brazilian numbers are imaginative, and Cal Tjader's work on vibes is a real spark plug. Nearly all the Brazilian numbers have the "Bossa Nova" feeling, making the album a strong waxing for store sales and radio programming. Laurindo Almeida is featured in several tracks as a guest star, and penned one of the numbers.

Vai Querer
Qué Tristeza
Se É Tarde, Me Perdoa
Nao Diga Nada
Elizete - (by Clare Fischer)
Tentação do Inconveniente
Choro E Batuque (Composed for this album by Laurindo Almeida)

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