Cal Tjader

Cuban Fantasy

In my parallel-universe incarnation as an ultra-cool filmmaker, I’m constantly on the lookout for essential musical totems to add serious flavor to my movies. One such epic features 1960s suburbanites in a backyard frenzy of sex, voodoo and debauchery. Their gateway musical drug may have been Martin Denny’s “Quiet Village,” but they’ve since graduated to the hard stuff: vibraphonist Cal Tjader’s irresistible 1964 confection “Soul Sauce,” a.k.a. the Dizzy Gillespie/Chano Pozo Latin jazz number “Guachi Guara.” On this 1977 recording, cut live at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall, Tjader and band stretch that concise single out to seven minutes plus. The other seven cuts here include pianist Clare Fischer’s “Guarabe,” which contains the best death-metal riff I’ve ever heard on a jazz record. Nice.