Cal Tjader

Cal Tjader Plays Harold Arlen

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With two separate backup trios, Tjader took on 11 Harold Arlen songs (actually all were songs that he co-wrote) for these mid-'60s sessions, with "Over the Rainbow" and "Blues in the Night" being the most well known. On the first six tracks, he's backed by Buddy Motsinger on piano, Al McKibbon on bass, and Willie Bobo on drums. On the other five, Motsinger remains while bassist Red Mitchell and drummer Johnny Rae become the rhythm section; a string section with harp augments these five tracks as well. Although these are well-crafted interpretations, the constant ballad tempos and languorous mood get sluggish taken one after the other. Clare Fischer's tense orchestral arrangements actually add a bit of spice to the latter part of the program, even as they heighten the sentimentality factor in some respects.