Martin Denny- 20 Golden Hawaiian Hits

Doubling down on the Hawaiian this month with a record from the guy who was mentor to the earlier posted effort (Arthur Lyman), Martin Denny.  This was $2.

This record from Liberty in 1964 is not the stuff out of Denny’s prime (the late 50’s), but it is not bad either.  If I can remember right, there are none of the sound effects heard so prominently on his earlier albums (also missing is the female on the cover), but other than that, this is the classic Denny sound, applied to a series of songs (20 to be exact) related to Hawaii.  I probably mentioned this already but Denny would die in Honolulu in 2005.  His ashes were scattered at sea.

Decent album.  I liked a lot of songs and had quite a few slated as samples, but as always I go back to my favorites which are “Hawaiian War Chant” and “The Cockeyed Mayor of Kaunakakai”.  I already provided some background this month on “War Chant”.  “The Cockeyed Mayor”, on the other hand, dates back to the 1930’s I believe and celebrates the town’s custom of having honorary mayors.  I could recount the story here but I am lazy and will direct you to the link below.

News article on the mayor of Kaunakakai

Good record.  Satisfactory.

Arthur Lyman- Hawaiian Sunset

This record was $1. Lyman’s reputation in the field of exotica makes it hard to pass up his records.  Since I have posted several of his records in the past, there is not much more to say on the subject.  I chose this by design since it made for an easy post to write.

I believe this effort was Lyman’s third album under his own moniker.  Released in 1958, the songs all have a Hawaiian connotation as the title would suggest.  Good stuff.  I mean, it is consistent with Lyman’s other works.

For a sample, I went with what is one of my favorite songs, “Hawaiian War Chant”.  Written by Prince Leleiohoko in the 1860’s, the song has become sort of a jazz standard being covered by jazz bands of the 30’s and 40’s as well as its inclusion in the Tex Avery 1952 cartoon, “Magical Maestro” .  Oddly enough, the original song is not a war chant but a clandestine meeting between two lovers.

Satisfactory Record.

Nico Gomez and His Orchestra- Fiesta Braziliana 2

Here is another record that I bought last November when I was in Amsterdam.  It was one Euro. At the time of this writing, I am having a fierce internal debate as to whether I should go back to Amsterdam this year for vacation.  God knows I need it.  Money is tight though.  Well, I am sure by the time you read this, I will have already made up my mind as to if I am going or not.  

This record comes from one Joseph van het Groenewoud, born in Amsterdam in 1925 and resettled in Belgium in 1947.  He was active in the 1950’s thru the 1970’s, mostly in latin flavored jazz.  He recorded a slew of records under the alias Nico Gomez as well as a couple under Peter Loland.  He would pass in 1992 but his son, Raymond, became a famous Belgian musician in his own right.

This record by its title, would imply that this is Brazilian music.  I tend to disagree. The titles and the music would imply more of a Mexican sound.  Perhaps there is not much differentiation in styles when you are in Europe, but in this hemisphere, it is pretty noticeable.  But overall, it is still a good little album. 

For a sample, I went with “La Bamba” which is a Mexican standard.

Decent record.  I was hoping for something more Brazilian in nature, but the price is still right for the music. Satisfactory.

Baja Marimba Band- Fowl Play

Here is what I believe is the 6th record from A&M stablemates, the Baja Marimba Band.  It was $3.00.  It had a bunch of songs that I like on it.  Well, maybe  a bunch is stretching it.  It had some songs I like.

As the BMB have been on this site a couple of times, I have exhausted most of the information about Julius Wechtner’s compliment to his label mates the Tijuana Brass. Not much really more to say about them at this time.  I find their albums are a bit hit or miss.  This one is about half hit and half miss.  It was released in 1967. “Along Comes Mary”, originally by the Association was the highest charting single.  The title track was also released as a single but did not chart.

For a sample, I went with “Along Comes Mary”.

Eh.  Satisfactory enough,

 

Martin Denny- Afro-Desia

Saturday means quick posts.  Also, since I have done many posts on Martin Denny, this greatly speeds today’s entry along.  This was from the bunch of records I got from my friend Micahl so it was at a cost of $0.00.  

This could have been Denny’s sixth or so album, released in 1959 on Liberty Records.  This collection as the title would suggest as well as the back cover would state, draws its inspiration from Africa.  Lot of really good songs on here that I have posted from other artists including “Baia”, “Temptation”, “Simba” and “Siboney”.

In what is the ultimate bout of laziness, a link to Ambient Exotica’s album review.

But for a sample, I decided to go in a different direction for once and post “Cubano Chant”.  I think it was the vocal chants that drew me to it. Also, the rest of the album skipped heavily and I was too lazy to clean it.

Really good album though.  Top Rated.

Les Baxter- Quiet Village

The weekend is here (or more aptly, I am done writing this week’s posts).  This was $4.  I have posted various Les Baxter albums on this site as I am a fan.

This seems to be a compilation of various Les Baxter tunes with the intent of capitalizing on the emerging exotica scene at the time.  Albums sampled include the seminal exotica piece, Ritual of the Savage, Tamboo! (which has been featured on this blog), Ports of Pleasure, and others.  Complete with an quasi-idiotic story on the back cover of three cases of people picking up and leaving for exotic destinations, the center piece of the album is the title track.  The album cover is sure to note that this is the original version of the song (although the song is highly derivative of Brazilian Ary Barroso’s “Na Baixa Do Sapateriro” ).

Anyway,  here is “Temple of Gold”.  

Top Rated Record

Baja Marimba Band- Heads Up

Well, finishing this anniversary month with this effort.  I am sure Herb Alpert would have been a more fitting choice, but as I do not have anymore of his albums, here is the next best thing.  This was $1.  I got it for “Georgy Girl”.

I didn’t realize it until I wrote this post, but this month’s selections are rather vibe heavy.  Well, no turning back at this point.  Released in 1967, this would have been the band’s fifth album.  It is a decent collection of songs. led by marimba-ist Julius Wechter. A decent enough track list although it has one of the more tepid versions of “Temptation” on it.

For a sample, I went with the song I liked the most, “The Cry of the Wild Goose” although it sounds very derivative of “Ghost Riders in the Sky” which was presented on an earlier post from this band. I also decided to go with “Georgy Girl” as well since it was the reason I bought this record.

Satisfactory record.  Thank you for joining me this month for what has been this blog’s second anniversary.

Les Baxter-Tamboo

We are filling this anniversary month with a lot of frequent guests on the blog.  In that regard, there is no one less fitting than Les Baxter.  This record was $4.

Les Baxter, a talented composer and arranger in his own right, gave birth to the Exotica genre with his 1952 release of Ritual of the Savage.  And although the movement would bear it’s name from Martin Denny’s first album in 1957, it was Denny’s cover of Baxter’s “Quiet Village” that put exotica further on the map.  Denny and Arthur Lyman would both strip down Baxter’s overblown sound, but there is no doubt who came first.

Link to Baxter’s Space Age Pop Page

Link to Exotica Page

This album, released in 1956, was Baxter’s second exotica album.  It is interesting to note that both this and Ritual were done before exotica or world music for that matter were even a thing.  Although the title comes from the Haitian Creole word for drums, the music is a reflection of African and Latin American music performed in an extravagant, over-blown manner.  Critics have noted that Baxter takes exotic subject matter and perhaps dulls the edges with American orchestration.  I am not sure this is a fair criticism.  In contrast, I feel that Baxter’s arrangements bring such works to a wider audience.

For a sample, I went with the lead track, “Simba” due to the vocals as well as “Mozambique”.

 

Satisfactory record.

The Stradivari Strings- Ping Pong Percussion of Rodgers & Hammerstein

There are two things I frequently post on this page: percussion and Rodgers and Hammerstein.  Maybe three things if you separate the duo. And perhaps a more accurate thing to say is among the things I frequently post as I have many recurring theme on this blog.  Anyway, this was a dollar.  I bought it because it combines two of the said recurring themes.

It is not that Rodgers and Hart did not write successful songs a lot of their works have become standards.  It is just with Hammerstein, the everything about productions seemed to be on a grander scale.  Other than Pal Joey, I can no think of another Rodgers/Hart musical.  I can name five Rodgers/Hammerstein musicals off the top of my head.

This record came out on Pirouette Records, a subsidiary of the Synthetic Plastics Company.  I did a post on them sometime back but can not remember which album.  Anyway, apparently there is a whole series of Ping-Pong Percussion records with such stars as Gershwin, Jerome Kern, and Leroy Anderson.  Okay, perhaps, three does not a series make, but you get the point. I am sure the Stradivari Strings was a house band.  Not sure why you would connotate a percussion album with a string band, but this is what Pirouette chose to do.  From what I can tell, this came out sometime in the early ’60’s

Overall, I felt the album was a pretty good interpretation of the duo’s work.  On a personal level, I could have used more songs that I like, but to counterpoint, it probably made for a better album by highlighting lesser known songs.  As far as the percussion goes, the album does ok at the beginning of the songs but does tend to go more into the strings about mid-way each tune. I have heard worse percussion albums but I wonder the reasoning behind naming this Ping Pong Percussion.

For a sample, I was torn between Carousel‘s “June is Busting Out All Over” and South Pacific’s “Some Enchanted Evening”.  Carousel, in particular, has been steadily rising for me, while Oklahoma keeps slightly falling.  I feel that the whole resentment of Judd is kind of messed up. Well back to this, I could not choose between the two so here is both.

Satisfactory.

 

Michel Legrand- The New I Love Paris

So, yes, due to this blog’s two year anniversary, we are doing Sunday blogs.  I am trying to use Sunday for records that have a special place in this blog’s history, and this one is a fine choice.  It features songs that have been mainstays of this site as well as an artist who I have sung the praises of.  Also, this was a steal at $1.

The pervy looking French dude on the cover is Michel Legrand (born in Courbevoie, France in 1932). He is a prolific French writer, composer, arranger and conductor.  With his work on over 200 film and TV scores, including his Oscar winning “Windmills of You Mind” for the Thomas Crown Affair, I regularly point our Legrand’s work on two of my favorite French movies. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and The Young Girls of Rochefort.  I have posted Umbrellas on this blog.  Still looking for a copy of Rochefort.  Anyway, Legrand is still alive today.

Legrand burst on American radar with his version of the Cole Porter standard “I Love Paris” in 1954.  This 1959 is an updated release of songs associated with the City of Lights.  All the big titles are on here.  The album features some vibrant and interesting arrangements.   The songs are wonderfully constructed, imaginatively executed, and overall, carried out beautifully.  One complaint, however, the songs on each side segue into each other so there are no breaks.  It does makes for a dreamy sequence, not unlike Legrand’s film work.  However, it does make it hard to isolate tracks for samples.

Speaking of which, I decided to highlight three of the songs I post on a normal basis on this blog.  First off, we have the combination of “I Love Paris” with “Mademoiselle de Paris”.  Second, we have “La Vie en Rose” with “Under Paris Skies”. I could write more about these but today, I will let the music speak for itself.

Great record.  Top billing.