Cal Tjader Biography

Callen Radcliffe Tjader, 16 July 1925, St. Louis, Missouri, USA, d. 5 May 1982, Manila, Philippines. After studying formally, Tjader played drums with various bands on the west coast before joining Dave Brubeck in 1949. In the early 50s he played with Alvino Rey and also led his own small bands. By 1953, the year he joined George Shearing, he had added vibraphone and various other percussion instruments to his roster. In 1954, he again formed a band of his own, concentrating on Latin American music and making numerous records on the Fantasy Records and Verve Records labels. He hired his sidemen with care, employing over the years distinguished musicians such as Lalo Schifrin, Willie Bobo, Donald Byrd and Kenny Burrell, while later musical associates included Hank Jones and Scott Hamilton. For all his undoubted skills as an instrumentalist, much of Tjader’s solo recorded output lacks urgency and vitality, often slipping gently into well-played but undemanding background music. At his best, however, Tjader performed Latin music with the verve it demands and enjoyed a secure and lasting respect among his peers.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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