Cal Tjader: Maramoor Mambo
Cal Tjader (vibes)
Soul Sauce (Verve 314-521-668-2)
Cal Tjader (vibes),
Lonnie Hewitt (piano), John Hilliard (bass), Johnny Rae (drums), Willie Bobo, Armando Peraza, Alberto Valdes (percussion).
Composed by Armando Peraza.
Recorded: New York, November 20, 1964
Rating: 93/100 (learn more)
Cal Tjader fell in love with Latin music early in his career, and from 1954 to his death in 1982 primarily led Latin jazz groups, with many of his fans assuming understandably but incorrectly that he must be Latino. The authenticity of Tjader's style, and his use of such top Latin percussionists as Ray Barretto, Willie Bobo, Armando Peraza, Poncho Sanchez and Mongo Santamaria, placed him at the forefront of the Latin jazz scene, and his music even influenced the later Latin-rock creations of Carlos Santana.
The short title track of his Soul Sauce album was as close as Tjader ever came to a hit record, but the longer "Maramoor Mambo" from the same session better highlights his distinctive metallic sound on the vibes and his relaxed, flowing and rhythmically engaging improvisational approach. Peraza's catchy mambo opens with hearty conga accents and firm piano chords as Tjader navigates the buoyant melody before surging into his driving solo, where Hewitt's montuno backing is a perfect complement. The pianist, a veteran Tjader sideman, follows the vibraphonist with his own dancing solo, displaying an appealing delicate touch and a spirited percussive attack.
"I'm not an innovator," Tjader once said. "I'm not a pathfinder. I'm a participant." Entertainer would be a better word, as Tjader left behind a body of work consistently joyful, unassuming and ingratiating.
Reviewer: Scott Albin