The best single-disc overview of Cal Tjader's Verve years, this collection actually makes the vibraphonist's time spent at the label seem more rewarding than it actually was. While with Fantasy Records, Tjader usually spent his time cutting tough Latin jazz albums or releasing superb small-group, bop-tinged cool jazz sessions. But under the guidance of Creed Taylor, most of Tjader's Verve sessions put a smooth gloss on his Latin style and almost completely ignored his very real talents for mainstream small-group jazz. That doesn't mean that his Verve years weren't full of excellent music, because they were; it's just that he recorded less group music for Verve, so it's great to see that so much fine music shows up here. Every track's a winner, but the CD features such highlights as Tjader's surprise pop hit "Soul Sauce," a beautiful ballad reading of "The Way You Look Tonight," the amazingly frenetic big band recording of the Horace Silver tune "Tokyo Blues," and a hip-shaking version of "Moanin'" that has Herbie Hancock and Ron Carter sitting in. Judging by this collection alone, you'd think Tjader's Verve period was the perfect marriage of high-quality jazz and mainstream commercial instincts. If only "selling out" always sounded this good. Maybe there's more to Cal Tjader's Verve sessions than there appeared to be at the time.
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AllMusic Review by Nick Dedina