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.