Location: Seattle, Washington, United States

What you have here is an old guy. In education for 30 years, started teaching elementary, ended as library and media director of community college. I've enjoyed mountain climbing, sports car rallying, was pipe major of a bagpipe band, played guitar and sang during the folk revival, walking and hiking later in life. Now fairly sedentary. Enjoy reading, esp. mysteries and fantasy, but my reading is pretty eclectic. Enjoy movies, giving Netflix a workout.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cal Tjader

Every night before I retire I listen to some music with headphones. My wife, Anna, has gone to bed long before me. Usually the music I choose is jazz, although sometimes it is classical, folk or world, even rock. For the last several evenings (well, actually about 2:30 a.m.) I’ve been listening to Cal Tjader, the vibraphonist. The album is The Ultimate Cal Tjader with his favorite recordings chosen by Eddie Palmieri, Tjader’s longtime friend and pianist.

Listening to Tjader’s terrific touch on the vibes (vibraphone or sometimes called the vibraharp) took me back many years. It must have been the late 50s when Cal Tjader performed for a couple of nights at a place called Pete’s Poopdeck in Seattle. The club was under the viaduct near the waterfront. It was the kind of place that gave you handfuls of peanuts in the shell and the floor was littered with peanut shells. I don’t remember a bandstand. I recall Cal playing surrounded by the tables of the customers. It was the first time Anna and I had heard or watched anyone play the vibes up close. I was impressed at how deft Cal was with the mallets. And how beautiful the sound of the instrument. I tried to follow his career from that time on. Later he became a huge advocate of Latin jazz and he pursued that until the end of his career. He died in 1982, I believe. I’ve followed other vibes players because of first hearing Cal Tjader. Milt Jackson, Terry Gibbs, Lionel Hampton, Dave Samuels, Gary Burton. Those are some of the experts on the instrument. But Cal Tjader was my first and I’ve spent several quiet early morning moments wallowing in Cal’s music and my own nostalgia.


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