Cal Tjader

Both Sides of the Coin

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During the last few years of his life, Cal Tjader had a very productive relationship with Concord Jazz. The vibist signed with Concord in 1979 and stayed there until his death in 1982 at the age of 56. Had Tjader lived a longer life, it's possible that he would have stayed at Concord a long time like his protégé, Poncho Sanchez. But that's only speculation. What we can say for certain is that Tjader was impressively consistent during his much-too-brief Concord period. Two of the excellent albums he recorded during that period were 1980's Gozame! Pero Ya and 1981's The Shining Sea, which Concord reissued back to back in 2001 as the two-CD set Both Sides of the Coin. This double CD has an appropriate title because it shows us two different sides of Tjader: a Latin side and a non-Latin side. Gozame! Pero Ya, which boasts Sanchez on congas, is consistently Latin-minded and finds Tjader putting a Latin spin (either Afro-Cuban or Brazilian) on gems that range from Gerry Mulligan's "This Couldn't Be the Real Thing" to Johnny Mandel's "Close Enough for Love" and the standard "This Is Always." Meanwhile, Tjader favors a non-Latin approach to bop on The Shining Sea, a five-star session that boasts Scott Hamilton on tenor sax and Hank Jones on piano. The thing the two albums have in common is that both are extremely melodic; whether Tjader is embracing Afro-Cuban and Brazilian rhythms on Gozame! Pero Ya or delivering non-Latin bop on The Shining Sea, this two-CD set never fails to be lyrical. Those who already have both albums on CD don't need to acquire Both Sides of the Coin, but the double CD is enthusiastically recommended to anyone who has yet to experience the joys of Tjader's Concord output.

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