During his four-decade music career, this famous vibraphone player, drummer, and pianist contributed greatly to the development of the acid jazz and Latin rock music genres. He received a 1980 Grammy Award for an album titled La Onda Va Bien.
After serving during World War II as a United States Army medic, he studied under the G.I. Bill at San Jose State College and San Francisco State College.
In 1954, he established his Cal Tjader Modern Mambo Quintet, a group that included pianist Manuel Duran and bassist Carlos Duran.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, he was raised primarily in San Mateo, California, by his Swedish, vaudeville performer parents.
During his college years, he met jazz pianist Dave Brubeck. The two eventually formed the Dave Brubeck Octet, a music group that included saxophonist Paul Desmond.