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Jazz Caliente salutes three influential musicians born on July 16

A man in a hat sits with his arms crossed next to two Grammy awards, a music case is in the background.
Courtesy of Rubén Blades
Actor, singer, songwriter, bandleader and activist Rubén Blades with two of his nine Grammy Awards.

A Swedish-American vibraphonist, an Afro-Brazilian guitarist, and a Panamanian singer share a July 16 birthdate. Learn more about them and hear their music on Saturday's Jazz Caliente.

Credited with bringing Cuban and Brazilian sounds to white American audiences, vibraphonist Cal Tjader was born in 1925 to a vaudevillian family. He learned to play several instruments, and to tap dance.

Tjader attended San Francisco State College, where he fell in with the post-WWII crowd that was experimenting with jazz, including Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond and Vince Guaraldi.

In the 1960's Tjader collaborated with salsa maestro Eddie Palmieri, and in the 1970s, he helped usher in the fusion era with his album "Amazonas." As a bandleader, Tjader mentored younger musicians like pianist Mark Levine and conguero Poncho Sanchez.

Brazilian guitarist Djalma de Andrade became "Bola Sete" when he was the only Black musician in a band. "Bola Sete," or "seven ball" refers to the only black ball on the table in the game of billiards.

Born in 1923 in Rio De Janeiro, Bola Sete's guitar technique blended Brazilian styles with flamenco, classical and improvisational jazz.

The three CD set "Bola Sete -Samba in Seattle" was recorded by Jim Wilke in the 1960s at the Penthouse Club in Seattle and released in 2021 on Resonance Records. The collection includes rare photos and historical information about this exceptional artist.

Panamanian actor, singer, songwriter and activist Rubén Blades was born in 1948 in Panama City. He started writing songs for the famous New York City salsa label, Fania, while he worked in the company's mailroom.

Blades is best known for leading the band Seis del Solar, a popular salsa-plus band in the 1980s and 1990s. He also gained notoriety for his 1994 Panamanian presidential campaign, his humanitarian efforts around the world, and his appearances as a Broadway and film actor.

Blades' 2021 collaboration with Roberto Delgado's swing orchestra, "Salswing" mixed salsa and big-band swing music. It won a Latin Grammy for album of the year, and a Grammy for best tropical Latin album.

Listen for more from these birthday artists this week on Jazz Caliente.

Jazz Caliente airs Saturdays at 5 p.m. The show is hosted by Robin Lloyd and produced by KNKX Public Radio.

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Originally from Detroit, Robin Lloyd has been presenting jazz, blues and Latin jazz on public radio for nearly 40 years. She's a member of the Jazz Education Network and the Jazz Journalists Association.