Cal Tjader – Soul Bird: Whiffenpoof

1965 – Verve Records


Though I make an effort to consistently listen to all of my records, there are a few that invariably slip through the cracks. “Soul Bird: Whiffenpoof” is an LP that I haven’t given the proper attention that it deserves. The lineup of Vibes, Bass, Piano, Drums, and Percussion create a great atmosphere that permeates throughout both sides of the album. The mood set feels perfect for the background of a swanky 60’s cocktail party. A mix of standards and original groove tunes weave their way out of the speakers to make a perfect pairing for your small talk and Manhattans. Nothing here is that complicated, it is more about feel than virtuosity or complex compositions. Perhaps that is the reason that I haven’t given this album too much of a second thought. I tend to gravitate towards musically intricate pieces (which should be evident by the vinyl blog posts thus far). Though this album doesn’t hit the level of complexity I usually look for, the music is done with exceptional skill and feel. The musicians showcased have been a part of some heavy sessions. Richard Davis, on bass, played on Dolphy’s “Out to Lunch”. Grady Tate, on drums, was a part of the Schoolhouse Rock Sessions (as a vocalist). Paul Griffin, on piano, was a great session musician who played on tons of hits, including many with Bob Dylan. Armando Peraza, on percussion, has long been associated with Santana. This is definitely a top notch band that could fit into any situation expertly. Stepping back and listening to this album as it is, not what I would want it to be to fit my tastes, I can appreciate it more. It is a fun, well played, snapshot of another time. I may have to have a cocktail party just so I can spin this!