The first complete LP here, an LA studio production from 1961 titled "In a Latin Bag," is an absolute classic in the Latin-jazz genre, with the unbeatable combination of Tjader's vibes, Paul Horn's flute and Lonnie Hewitt's piano on most of the tracks; backed by Al McKibbon on bass and percussion by Wilfredo Vicente (conga) and Johnny Rae (timbales). In addition to their superb takes on Erroll Garner's "Misty," Bronislau Kaper's "Green Dolphin Street," Kurt Weill's "Speak Low," Miklos Rosza's "Ben Hur" love theme (Tjader switches to piano and Hewitt to clavietta on this one) and Armando Pérez & George Shearing's "Mambo in Miami," the original compositions are outstanding. Singling out the most stunning example by each player-composer here, we have the mesmerizing "Triste" by Cal Tjader, with Horn on the rarely-used bass flute (note that this is not the same as the contemporaneous song of the same title by Brazilian bossa nova specialist A.C. Jobim); and the exquisitely melodic (and vibraphone-less) "Ecstasy" by Paul Horn.
The second complete LP on this disc has Cal Tjader leading a relaxed early-1962 set back in his hometown of San Francisco. Recorded over two evenings, it bears the title "Saturday Night/Sunday Night at the Blackhawk, San Francisco." Nicely recorded, sans any audience distractions, it replaces the Latin content of the prior LP with bop, swing, blues, a classic ballad ("Summertime," which Tjader really puts his stamp on over seven minutes) and even soul-jazz with pianist Lonnie Hewitt's "Noonie's Groove," which holds its own with some of the best of that genre that was peaking around that time.
This él division of Cherry Red Records UK deserves kudos for the fine job it did reissuing these two LPs on a single disc (76+ minutes of music) with excellent sound mastering and all the original cover art, photos and liner notes intact.