Cal Tjader crafted one the sleekest and most distinctive sounds in Latin jazz. His cool, shimmering, jazz vibes, gliding fluidly atop fiery, hot Afro-Cuban rhythms, made for a sonic signature that helped introduce the genre into a mainstream audience.
Cal Tjader’s mother was a concert pianist, his father a vaudeville performer. He grew up with them on the road, tap- dancing his way through early childhood. Later, the family settled down in San Mateo on the San Francisco Peninsula, and his father opened a dancing school. After high school and a stint in the Navy, Cal ended up at San Francisco State College, where he first met up with Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond.