Cal Tjader

Live and Direct

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Although this was billed to the Cal Tjader Quintet, it in fact features just the quartet of Tjader, Lonnie Hewitt on piano, Victor Venegas on bass, and Willie Bobo on drums. The leader doesn't even play on "My Romance," a showcase for Hewitt. Recorded live at the Black Hawk in San Francisco, this was a time when Tjader was often getting into Latin-Afro-Cuban-jazz fusion. But that's barely evident on this mellow session, except for the high-spirited finale, in which the quartet (or trio, or quintet, or whatever you want to call it) becomes a sextet with the addition of Mongo Santamaria on congas and Rolando Lozano on flute. Actually, this set is rather too much on the polite, even sleepy side: the kind of thing you'd put on to fall asleep to in the wee hours. The pace does pick up for the only Tjader original, "Raccoon Straits," and "Mambo Terrifico," the number that has Santamaria and Lozano on board.