JAZZBO NOTES RECOMMENDED RECORDING
This oddly named album isn’t a live date, but never mind. Cal Tjader’s Latin Concert is aptly named in at least one way. It’s Latin jazz, not jazz with a Latin lilt. The rhythms are authentic, as well they might be considering that Tjader is using Mongo Santamaria on congas and Willie Bobo on timbales and drums.
Cal Tjader, as he most often did once he started playing Latin jazz, plays vibes. He’s a perfectly tasteful mainstream jazz soloist, but he’ll never knock your socks off. That’s even more true of Vince Guaraldi of Peanuts fame, who mans the piano chair. Guaraldi handles the Latin rhythms just fine and his solos are pleasant enough, but that’s all. Bassist Al McKibbon does fine with the Latin bass parts. Mongo Santamaria plays beautifully on congas, but he’s somewhat restrained. After all, this isn’t his show.
Despite the lack of fiery soloists, something rather magical happens with this combination of musicians. The music has a really nice Afrocuban feel with an added touch - the vibes are really lovely in this context. It’s just all so pleasant and relaxing without insulting the intelligence. There’s something to be said for that.
I can’t really justify my rating more than I already have, but I’m always happy to hear this recording when I put it in my CD changer.