Cal Tjader

In: Film and Music

Submitted By chamiley
Words 2002
Pages 9
Mr. Cal Tjader was an American vibraphone player, percussionist, bandleader, composer and arranger of Swedish descent. He began as a jazz player, playing the drums and became the most famous non-latino Latin jazz musician of the 1950s and 60s. Throughout his career Mr. Tjader enjoyed success and mainstream attention from Latin Jazz listeners, however, critics always wrote his music of as being too commercial and catering to popular taste. In this paper I will attempt to illustrate the notion that even though Mr. Tjader was unable to garner the acceptance of the Jazz critics of his time, he was nonetheless respected and admired by many of the influential musicians of his time, as well as by the musicians of today.

Callen Radcliffe Tjader, Jr was born on 16th July 1925 in St. Louis, Missouri. Mr. Tjader came from a family of performing vaudevillians as his father was a tap dancer and his mother was a piano player. It was no coincidence that Mr. Tjader would also take an interest in performing and he initially started dancing professionally when he was three until at the age of fourteen when he discovered jazz and taught himself the drums. With the exception of the piano lessons given to him, Mr. Tjader was self-taught on all of his instruments.
In 1949, Mr. Tjader enrolled into the San Francisco State College. It was here when Mr. Tjader would meet a variety of young jazz musicians, including future jazz legends, Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond. The three musicians along with others formed the Dave Brubeck Octet, with Mr. Tjader on drums. “The Octet experimented with jazz employing odd time signatures and non-Western key” but disbanded after only one album. After the disbanding of the Octet, Brubeck and Mr. Tjader formed a trio and began performing within the San Francisco jazz scene. Mr. Tjader during this period taught himself the vibraphone, often alternating…...

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