Prodded by producer Creed Taylor, Cal Tjader turned momentarily away from pure Latin jazz to explore some polystylistic fusions of East and West on a pair of 1963 Verve albums. The first, Several Shades of Jade, finds Tjader in the intriguing company of Lalo Schifrin, who provides some searching, delicate, challenging, and yes, grooving compositions and arrangements with an emphasis on Asian scales and things, but also eager to mix in other idioms, including Tjader's beloved Latin jazz. One is, as usual, often reminded of Schifrin's film music cues, but that is a sign of a strong sonic personality -- it's Schifrin, not any old film composer, that one recognizes, and Tjader solos fluidly and colorfully over the Argentinean's shifting big-band backdrops. CD annotator Paul de Barros pans Breeze from the East in unusually brutal terms -- give Verve credit; they didn't flinch -- but really, it's not half as bad as advertised, though some of the tourist-view Orientalisms and thwacking mid-'60s electric guitars remind one of a Peter Sellers comedy set in Hong Kong. Besides, when left some room on these AM airplay-length tracks, Tjader plays as splendidly as ever. Obviously, this is not going to be a basic Cal Tjader album, but aficionados will want to hear him in these unusual, sometimes bizarre settings.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Richard S. Ginell