Sunday, September 6, 2015


What's that then? Well, actually not anything until you use its alternate name of Soul Sauce, when it becomes something that would definitely liven up any ribs or burgerfest. Originally a Dizzy Gillespie tune, it was all a bit polite in his version, think paper plates and tinned hot dogs, served up at the prom, or that's how it seems all these years on. Actually a co-write with the fascinating sounding Chano Pozo who seems to have given Gillespie his post bebop Latin lilt, it wasn't until it fell into the hands of ace vibraphonist Cal Tjader that it really showed its chops. (SWIDT!)

Tjader was an interesting guy, and one I always assumed to have been Latino. He was actually of Swedish-American stock, and came from a vaudeville family, his father tap-dancing to his mother's piano accompaniment, becoming a tap-dancing prodigy himself in his teens, as well as developing proficiency in both percussion instruments and the piano. Upon demob from the army, he hooked up with Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond, becoming drummer in their first band, teaching himself vibes and introducing them into the band. Latin influences were now gradually being introduced into the palette of jazz music, and Tjader gradually became drawn more into this sphere. Becoming Downbeat magazine's 1953 best new star on this instrument gave the confidence to start his own band, the Cal Tjader Modern Mambo Quartet. The next decade saw any number of bands and collaborations, with 1964's Soul Sauce, the album and the track, being the pinnacle of his career. Altogether a messier version than the original, this was a shirt-staining, chin-dripping gumbo of a tune, becoming both a radio hit and its parent album being in the years top 50 sellers.

Later years saw some decline, as he experimented with Asian scales and motifs, before a return to a heavier Latin sound, introducing elements of fusion, as well as contributing to the soundtrack of 1972's Fritz the Cat, the animated feature based upon the Robert Crumb cartoon, notably this, Mamblues. He died, whilst out on the road, aged just 56, but his legacy has lived on, through samples, with over 80 samples seemingly identifiable as being of his work, notably by New York hip-hoppers A Tribe Called Quest in their Midnight Marauders.

Buy Soul Sauce

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