Music is human. And here, King of Bongo will show you the best music available on the internet. What you will find: a vibrant source of sounds and vibes, grooves and noise, some you will never have heard before. Are you ready to go on the journey?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Session 10: The Vibes Ain't Nuthin' But The Vibes

Cal Tjader & Eddie Palmieri In 1966 vibesman Cal Tjader had already had his best years. Following smash-hit popularity with his Modern Mambo Quintet (including Mongo Santamaria on some cuts) in the '50s, and jazz respectability with his saving of the Monterey Jazz Festival in '59, his star began to wane after 1964's classic 'Soul Sauce'. Cal needed inspiration, and, never one for introspection, he looked again to Latin music, his first love.

He didn't need to look far. Eddie Palmieri, younger brother of Charlie (renowned 'Giant of the Keyboards') was midswing into his career as leader of charanga band La Perfecta, and had just the energy, Latin background, and jazz pedigree that Tjader needed. Negotians were started, and what resulted were two classic albums.

For Cal's label (MGM-owned Verve) was recorded 'El Sonido Nuevo (The New Soul Sound),' a beautiful collection of fluid 'n' smooth Latin/Jazz rhythms, intercut with Cuban elements, and as heavenly a collaboration of vibes and piano as could be wished for.

And then, in return, for Eddie Palmieri's Tico label, the duo recorded... something new, something different. Harder than any fare previously recorded by either Cal or Eddie, 'Bamboleate' is truly the dark side of Latin Jazz. Kicking off with the title track, a driving salsa beat, heavy on the percussion (which is pushed well up in the mix), you know you're in for a ride. Tjader gives a scintillating vibe counterpoint to the hypnotic, almost tribal chanting of the song title, and the scene is set.

Next up, Henry Mancini's melancholy 'We've Loved Before' is given several twists downwards. Shivers down the spine are created by the combination of low brass, vibes, subtle piano and congas. 'Resemblance' is vastly more jazzified, at the beginning sounding like an outtake from Schifrin's 'Schifrin/Sade' (recorded in the same year), it then kicks into gear, featuring solos from both artistes backed by a pure jazz rhythm. This track is 5 minutes of sheer pleasure.

Track 4 is King of Bongo's selection, 'Mi Montuno,' so we'll get to that later....

'Samba do Suenho' is a Brazilian-inspired cut, but bucks the Bossa beat with some delicious percussion and wily piano accompaniment in synch with the vibes. Top notch trumpet solo too! 'Guajira Candela' snakes back to the groove established at the beginning, with a splendid loping backdrop overlaid with stabbing horns and Mariachi vocals before a jazz digression fades the track.

We move on to 'Pancho's Seis Por Ocho.' Opening with a Dizzy Gillespie-style African village theme, Eddie & Cal duet a tasty scene setter, the cut transforms into one of the best blendings of Jazz and Latin music that King of Bongo has had the honour of hearing. Aspiring DJ's should note the extended percussion sequence in the last third of the track - might spice up your set a little?

The album closes with 'Come An' Get It,' a swinging jazz take, in much the same vein as much of Cal's other output. The weakest track on the album, but still a good closer.

Giving lie to Tjader's reputation as 'Latin Lounge,' and a fine addition to the Eddie Palmieri canon, 'Bamboleate' should be on your shelf now. What? It ain't? Well, people, King of Bongo instructs you to rectify that sad state of affairs.

Your selection today is the 4th track from this fine slab of vinyl: 'Mi Montuno.' Opening with a piano refrain, the first seconds give no indication of what's to come. A smoky double groove beat kicks off the rhythm, suddenly enhanced by percussion, piano and vibes. Mid-track comes a break, where the musicians get into another gear AND rhythm, and we're now in a Cuban groove, with Cal wigging out (as much as he ever could, but that don't matter) and moving on to a vocal backing. Along with many tracks on this album, 'Mi Montuno' was a little bit ahead of its time. KoB hopes you like it as much as he does.

Ladies & Gentlemen, please enjoy:
Eddie Palmieri & Cal Tjader: Mi Montuno [mp3 | 5:21 mins | 192 kbps | 7.35 MB]
Buy 'Bamboleate' by Eddie Palmieri & Cal Tjader from Amazon
File under: Scintillating Latin Vibes
[Click on the link and you’ll be taken to yousendit where you can download the track. First come first served people, only 7 days and/or 25 downloads allowed!]


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