Cal Tjader - Soul Sauce

I still remember the first time I heard Cal Tjader. I was in college and was dating a woman. We went on a date and had a bite to eat on the Delmar Loop area of St. Louis. Afterward, we stopped by the stellar used record store, Vintage Vinyl. We browsed around and she pulled out Cal Tjader's 1954 Mambo with Tjader. She went up and asked them to put it on and began to dance to the first track, Mamblues. Soon almost everyone in the place dancing and jamming. The beginning of a memorable night. Ah, youth....

Tjader was born in St. Louis in 1925 and moved to San Mateo when he was 2. After serving in WWII, he attended San Jose State on the GI bill, intending to teach. He transfer to San Francisco State where he took timpani lesson. While in San Fransisco, he met up with Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond and became the drummer in the Dave Brubeck octet. The octet broke up, but Tjader and Brubeck formed the Dave Brubeck trio and became a fixture in San Francisco jazz scene. It was during this time that Tjader taught himself the vibraphone.

The trio disbanded in 1951 after Brubeck's diving accident in Hawaii and Tjader bounced around and became more influenced by the Latin Jazz sound. He recorded several album on the Fantasy Label before moving over to Verve in the early 60's. He recorded with a wide range of artists including Donald Byrd, Anita O'Day, Willie Bobo, Armando Peraza, Kenny Burrell and a young Chick Corea.

He continued to record prolifically but was hurt in the 70's by the huge growth of Rock and Roll. He played on and in 1980, he earned his only Grammy, winning Best Latin Recording for La Onda Va Bien. He died in 1982 while on tour in Manila.

Today Hump Day Retro-Closet tune is Soul Sauce, Tjader's biggest hit, off his 1964 recording of the same name.


Maria | September 24, 2009 at 5:04 PM

Great Selection. A lot of great musicians have come from St. Louis. ~Maria

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