Cal Tjader remains among the most distinctive performers ever to emerge from Northern California. Raised in San Mateo, educated at San Jose State and the compatriot of such indelible talents as Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond and Vince Guaraldi, the pioneering Latin jazz percussion-pianist was at the forefront of the region’s music scene for decades.
His contributions lie at the heart of “Cal Tjader: The Life and Recordings of the Man Who Revolutionized Latin Jazz" by S. Duncan Reid. The author, himself a San Francisco native, has been a Tjader fan for decades and as a journalist covering the genre has had the opportunity to sit down and discuss its finer points with the likes of Gerry Mulligan, Zoot Sims, Shelly Manne, Jimmy Witherspoon and Stan Getz.
It’s entirely fitting then, given the web of Bay Area connections, that JazzWest.com has an exclusive excerpt from the book, complete with vintage family photos. The bio is available – as is everything else conceived by human beings these days – on Amazon. I particularly dig this passage.
As the calendar changed to 1959, Tjader looked back on a year that was both personally challenging and professionally rewarding. Being immortalized in Jack Kerouac's novel "The Dharma Bums" not only acknowledged his presence as a musical icon but also gave him a much needed emotional lift: "We had Cal Tjader records on the hi-fi and a lot of girls were dancing as Bud and I ...played bongo drums on inverted cans."
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