Cal Tjader: When Lights Are Low


When Lights Are Low


Cal Tjader (vibes)


Extremes / Breathe Easy (Fantasy)

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Cal Tjader (vibes), Allen Smith (trumpet), Hank Jones (piano), Monty Budwig (bass), Shelly Manne (drums).

Composed by Benny Carter


Recorded: Berkeley, September 14-15, 1977


Rating: 96/100 (learn more)

Cal Tjader recorded prolifically for Berkeley's Fantasy label, but his last project is my favorite. Released as Breathe Easy on the Galaxy sublabel, this soft-and-sweet session soon went out of print and has never been well known in the jazz world. It finally came back in CD format in 2001, packaged with the music from Tjader's first trio 10 inch album for Fantasy from 1951. I hope this music finally finds a receptive audience in its reincarnation as a compact disk. The rhythm section of Hank Jones, Shelly Manne and Monty Budwig set the tone, which is ultra-relaxed even by the standards of West Coast jazz. Tjader shows off his gift for melodic improvisation, but the real star here is unsung journeyman Allen Smith, who will leave you wondering why you haven't heard more from him.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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