Cal Tjader

In a Latin Bag

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Cal Tjader recorded prolifically for Verve during the first half of the 1960s, though this is one of his lesser-known dates. These 1961 sessions with Paul Horn on flute, pianist Lonnie Hewitt, bassist Al McKibbon, plus Latin percussionists Johnny Rae, Wilfredo Vincente and Armando Peraza are a bit of a mixed bag. Two low-key pieces open each side of the disc, the first with a subdued treatment of "Ben Hur (Love Theme)" with Hewitt switching to clavietta (which sounds similar to a harmonica) and Tjader taking over the piano. The leader's more interesting "Triste," which is highlighted by Horn's warm solo, sounds as if it is played on an alto flute. The remainder of the disc explores standards like "On Green Dolphin Street," classic jazz ("Misty") and entertaining originals by several members of the group. While this long unavailable Verve LP falls short of Cal Tjader's best work, it is well worth snapping up if found.

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