Tjader, Cal(len Radcliffe, Jr.)

views updated

Tjader, Cal(len Radcliffe, Jr.)

Tjader, Calden Radcliffe, Jr.), Latin drummer; b. St. Louis, Mo., July 16, 1925; d. Manila, May 5, 1982. Diehard Latin-music fans decry his cool jazz tendencies and hard-core jazzers lament his Latin daliances, but his dedication to the music helped to popularize and promote Latin jazz to the average jazz fan. He was an important conduit between the two styles, and his contributions served as a prelude to the Latin-rock fusion of Santana.

He got started in show business at an early age. At age four he joined his parents’ vaudeville act. At age seven he was dancing with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson in the movie The White of the Dark Cloud of Joy. A few years later, the family moved to northern Calif, and Cal’s interests turned to the drums. After a three-year hitch as a Navy medic during World War II, he returned to Calif, and continued to study music at San Francisco State. In 1948, he joined Dave Brubeck’s octet as the drummer. He then joined the George Shearing Quintet in 1953, giving him important national exposure and igniting his interest in Latin music. He formed his own group, including Armando Peraza (from Shearing’s group), Willy Bobo, and Mongo Santamaría. His timing was excellent: the country was caught in a mambo craze, and his music was a perfect fit. In 1965, he had a hit with a reworked version of Dizzy Gillespie’s “Guachi Guaro/’ renamed “Soul Sauce.” The following year he toured with Eddie Palmieri and recorded the outstanding El Sonido Nuevo, a groundbreaking mix of the Palmieri’s hot salsa and his cool jazz. This was a marked departure from previous Latin-jazz ventures like those by Stan Getz, who mixed cool jazz with cool samba to make bossa nova. He stayed on the West Coast and continued to perform and record throughout the 1970s and 1980s with a wide range of musicians, including Clare Fischer, Herbie Hancock (under the psuedonym Dawili Gonga), and Pancho Sanchez. He died suddenly while on tour in Manila.


Good Vibes (1951); Mambo with Tjader (1954); Tjader Plays Mambo (1954); Black Orchid (1956); Latin Kick (1956); Los Ritmos Calientes (1957); Latin Concert (1958); Stan Getz/Cal Tjader Sextet (1958); Jazz at the Blackhawk (1959); Monterey Concerts (1959); Latino! (1960); Cal Tjader Plays/Mary Stallings Sings (1961); Sona Libre (1963); Cal Tjader’s Greatest Hits (1965); Soul Sauce (1965); El Sonido Nuevo (1966); The Best of Cal Tjader (1968); Plugs In (1969); Primo (1970); Descarga (1971); Tambu (1973); Amazonas (1975); Here and There (1976); Huracán (1978); La Onda Va Bien (1979); Gózame! Pero Ya (1980); Fuego Vivo (1981); Shining Sea (1981); Heat Wave (1982); Sentimental Moods (1996).

—James Eason