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Cuban Fantasy by Cal Tjader

Though not of Latin/Hispanic descent himself, vibist Cal Tjader (1925-1982) was one of the prime exponents of the Latin/Afro-Cuban sound in jazz, and like bandleader/drummers Chico Hamilton and Art Blakey, his bands were a nurturing environ/finishing school for many musicians who went on to become leaders themselves (like Pancho Sanchez). Cuban Fantasy is a dandy set of previously unissued live recordings from San Francisco in 1977, and it features CT & his boys on a particularly good, hot night. The rhythms were/are bright, buoyant and sultry, and electric guitarist Bob Redfield’s somewhat aggressive playing reflects a strong rock influence, a la Carlos Santana and other Bay Area eclectic rockers, setting this apart from other Tjader recordings. (It seems that a circle has been completed: Santana has accredited CT as an influence.) While no innovator, Tjader had a vivid, distinctive sound and an economical approach on the vibes, and his band(s) sound was accessible without pandering to any lowest common denominator. For Tjader fans, this’ll be a fine Holiday Offering, and to neophytes and Latin-friendly rock fans, a very fine introduction.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Cal Tjader
  • CD Title: Cuban Fantasy
  • Genre: Latin Jazz / Latin Funk
  • Year Released: 2003
  • Record Label: Fantasy
  • Tracks: Cuban Fantasy, Guarabe, Tamanco no Samba, Tu Crees Que?, Silenciosa, Descarga Cachao, Manuel Deeghit, Guachi Guara
  • Musicians: Cal Tjader (vibes, timbales, percussion), Clare Fischer (electric piano), Bob Redfield (electric guitar), Rob Fisher (bass), Pete Riso (drums), Poncho Sanchez (congas, percussion)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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