The late vibist Cal Tjader remains the foremost American-born interpreter of Afro-Latin jazz. On the first half of this collection, made in 1958-59 at San Francisco's fabled Black Hawk, Tjader (1925-1982) leads a juggernaut of a Latin-jazz sextet. Bassist Al McKibbon taught the vibist much about various Latino styles during their earlier days in George Shearing's group; the late pianist-composer Vince Guaraldi would score with "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" and Peanuts TV and movie soundtracks; and the late drummer Willie Bobo and conguero Mongo Santamaria formed the twin towers of Latin percussion. Plus, Cuban-born tenor saxophonist José "Chombo" Silva is a find; his rhythmically ingenious solos suggest a slightly, grittier-sounding Stan Getz fronting a primo mambo band. Tjader's jazzier side is on call in Black Hawk Nights' second half. The vibist heads a foursome whose estimable pianist, Lonnie Hewitt, would long serve as his right-hand man.
with José "Chombo" Silva, Vince Guaraldi, Al McKibbon, Willie Bobo, Mongo Santamaria, Rolando Lozano, Lonnie Hewitt, Victor Venegas