FROM MEDICINE TO JAZZ - THE TJADER STORY

Dr. Anton William Tjader Cal Tjader
Dr. Anton William Tjader Great-Grandson, Cal Tjader

Dr. Anton Tjader was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1825. In 1854 and 1855 he served as a surgeon in the Russian Army during the Crimean Wars. Afterwards he immigrated to America. He enrolled in the Harvard Medical School, from where he received his M.D. in 1857. After graduation he started working at the U.S. Marine Hospital in Chelsea, Massachusetts. In 1859 he left on a wagon train to travel west.


During his journey west, his wagon train was ambushed by Indians in Utah. Several men were killed, and Tjader was the only doctor available to treat the wounded. The wagons reach Genoa (then Utah Territory, now Nevada) on September 2, 1859, and one of Tjader's first duties was describing the massacre to the local Indian agent.


In May, 1860, Tjader was involved in another Indian ambush, at Pyramid Lake during the Paiute Indian War. He was one of a company that had gone to retaliate for an attack on Williams Station a few days before. The company was ambushed by Paiutes on the banks of the Truckee River, and 76 of the men were killed, including William Ormsby. Dr. Tjader did not return with the other survivors. But a few days later he arrived in Virginia City, having hid in a bush for two nights to avoid the Indians.


In 1862, Tjader married Lucy Curry, daughter of Carson City founder Abe Curry. It was the most lavish wedding the Nevada Territory had ever seen. The marriage was performed by Gov. Nye.


On July 7, 1870, Anton Tjader died after being ill for several months due to injuries he sustained during the Pyramid Lake Wars. During the battle he was struck in the chest by an arrow that was said to have damaged his heart. His death has been attributed to the effects of that injury. He is buried in Carson City's Lone Mountain Cemetery. His widow Lucy remarried two years later and lived until 1921.


His great-grandson, born in 1925, was Grammy-winning Latin jazz musician Cal Tjader. Famous guitarist Carlos Santana credits Tjader as an early influence. Cal Tjader was a Latin jazz musician, though he also explored various other jazz idioms. Unlike other American jazz musicians who experimented with the music from Cuba, the Caribbean, and Latin America, he never abandoned it, performing it until his death.


Tjader primarily played the vibraphone. He was also accomplished on the drums, bongos, congas, timpani, and the piano. He worked with numerous musicians from several cultures. He played with Dave Brubeck, George Shearing, Mongo Santamaria, Lalo Schifrin, Anita O'Day, and Chick Corea, to name a few. He is often linked to the development of Latin rock and acid jazz. Although fusing jazz with Latin music is often categorized as "Latin jazz" (or, earlier, "Afro-Cuban jazz"), Tjader's output swung freely between both styles.


He won a Grammy in 1980 for his album La Onda Va Bien, capping off a career that spanned over forty years.


In tribute to the late Cal Tjader, and in honor of all the founding families of Carson City, the Paul Roth Latin Jazz Quintet will perform at 3:30 PM at the Big Birthday Bash. The Paul Roth Quintet is an ensemble of some of the most exciting and creative young musicians in the Reno and Carson area. The band members perform regularly throughout Northwestern Nevada and California, including Harrah's Showroom in South Lake Tahoe, the Reno Blues Festival, the Carson City "Jazz and Beyond" Festival, and the Reno Jazz Festival.



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