Cal Tjader

Concerts in the Sun

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One of the things that hardcore jazz collectors love to do is fantasize about all of the live recordings by major artists that have gone unreleased but may surface eventually -- performances that were taped and ended up in the private collection of an artist, promoter, club owner, manager, or soundboard person. Collectors are always hoping that a previously unreleased soundboard recording of a John Coltrane, Bud Powell, or Thelonious Monk gig will turn up somewhere, and in some cases, recordings that have gone unreleased for decades will see the light of day at some point. Take Concerts in the Sun, for example. This 2002 disc contains previously unreleased Cal Tjader performances from 1960 -- live recordings that stayed in the can for 42 years. Concerts in the Sun focuses on two different Tjader concerts, one at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in suburban Los Angeles on May 27, 1960, and the other at the Waikiki Shell in Honolulu on October 7 of that year. Fantasy's sequencing might seem odd; the label offers three Honolulu performances followed by three Santa Monica performances followed by three more Honolulu performances and, finally, one more Santa Monica performance. But there's a method to the madness. Instead of separating the recordings by venue, Fantasy separates them stylistically. So six non-Latin bebop offerings are followed by four examples of Tjader playing Afro-Cuban jazz with Mongo Santamaria, including "Afro Blue" and "Cubano Chant." In both areas, the vibist is pleasing; non-Latin versions of "Love for Sale" and Gordon Jenkins' "Goodbye" are no less solid than the Afro-Cuban "Tumbao." Concerts in the Sun falls short of essential, but Tjader's hardcore fans will be thankful that these enjoyable recordings finally became commercially available after 42 years.

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