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.



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.

Ravi Shankar- In San Francisco

I can not remember if I got this at the Half Price Books in Sugar Land or the one on FM 529.  Anyway, I got a discount on it during Labor Day so it came out to $4.  I have not posted any Ravi Shankar on this blog as of yet.  Not a whole lot of Indian music either.  Probably because up to this point, I had not found much of it.  Thanks to an influx of records from SugarLand HPB, that should change this year.

Ravi Shankar (born in Benares, British India in 1920), was an accomplished Indian classical musician before he started touring Europe and THE US in 1956.  These efforts brought him more exposure and eventually George Harrison discovered his music.

Of all the artists who would bring Indian music into pop in the 1960’s, there was none so influential as Harrison, who would study with Shankar for 6 months in 1966. Shankar continued to perform worldwide until his death in 2012 at the age of 92.  Incidentally, musician Nora Jones is Shankar’s daughter although she hid this fact early in her career.

This album, recorded at the San Francisco Civic Auditorium in 1967 (I think it was recorded in 1967.  for sure that was the year it was released) features Shankar on the sitar, the instrument he made famous. He is backed up by Alla Rakha on the tabla as well as Kamala on the tamboura.  This album features 3 songs, all long length.  These consist of a raga, a dhun, and a tabla solo.  I question the inclusion of a tabla solo on an album that should showcase Shankar, but it is not a bad piece of work.  The other numbers are quite interesting.  

The album includes some definitions of Indian classical forms and instruments but I am too lazy to include them here.  Use Google if you are curious.

As I like to keep my samples short, I went with the shortest track on this album that highlighted Shankar’s work.  So from the two to choose from, I went with the 16 minute “Raga Bhupal Todi”, “a pentatonic morning raga of five notes which omits the fourth and seventh and depicts the mood of sadness”.

Good album.  Satisfactory.  I should have more Indian music posted this year.  However, due to the amount of spell check notifications, writing these posts are less fun than others.

The Calimbo Steel Band- The Heart of Trinidad

If you have been reading this blog for awhile, you should know that i do likes some steel band.  Mostly because these have good odds of containing hidden gems.  Well, there is this a bought on the high end for $5.  Why so much?  I am not so sure other than the old yellow and purple colors of the old LA Kings’ jeresys. In retrospect, I am surprised I do not have a steel drum category on this blog.

This album was released by concert promoter and radio owner Gene Norman on his GNP label,  Norman’s label was responsible for several jazz releases from artist such as Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Gerry Mulligan, and Lionel Hampton,  as well as the work of the rock band, The Seeds and zydeco artist Queen Ida.

Combining Calypso with Limbo, we have here the Calimbo Steel Band from Trinidad who moved to California in what was no doubt a slow montage in the 60’s .  According to one site, they performed at parties for both John Wayne and Dwight Eisenhower. So I am guessing these guys were the go-to steel band for 1960’s conservatives.  Carl Lawrence made the pans and performed on the tenor booms.  Chuck Wood provided vocals. That is about all I cared to find out about the band.

This was released in 1961 I believe.  I can not find any other recording for this group.  It is a decent recording as sound quality is up and down with steel band.  Decent songs.  I am sure that is why I bought the album.   Two of these songs, I am using as samples; Perez Prado’s “Mambo #5” as well as “When The Saints Go Marching In”.

Decent album.  Perhaps I could have used a dollar or so off the price but still it is good enough.  Satisfactory.

Arthur Lyman- Taboo

This was in the big box of records I got from my pal, Micahl and quite frankly, its probably one of the better ones if not the best.  There were several exotica albums in the mix.  This is the one I knew the most about and quite frankly, I was a bit surprised I did not already have a copy.

Along with Les Baxter and Martin Denny, Arthur Lyman is the third cog of the big three exotica musicians.  Lyman (1932-2002) was a Hawaiian native from Kauai who first rose to prominence playing vibraphone and marimba with Denny.  After Denny’s seminal work, Quiet Village, Lyman split from the group to do his own music.  This chaffed Denny on some level although the two remained professional about it.  Anyway, Lyman took the Exotica sound and made his styling of it even more flamboyant. He released more than 30 records and performed at various hotels, resorts and clubs, both on the islands and on the mainland.

Link to an earlier post on Denny with the origins of animal noises

This was Lyman’s second album but his first one in the field of exotica.  Released in 1958, this work put Lyman into the same club as Denny and Baxter.  Furthermore, Lyman takes the exotic instruments and animal noises from Denny’s group up a couple notches. Really great album. I could talk about it at length but since it is Saturday, I am going to be lazy and link up to someone else blog.

Ambient Exotica link on the album

For samples, man, did I have a hard time narrowing it down. While going over old songs from this blog, I noticed that Duke Ellington’s classic “Caravan” gets a lot of play. So why should I fight it? I also decided to go with the classic “Miserlou” which would become a big hit for Dick Dale and surf guitar.  Finally, I wanted to go with one of the more traditional exotica tracks.  After much back and forth, I went with “Sim Sim” although the title track was a close second.

Top rated album.


Edmundo Ros and His Orchestra- Bongos From The South

This was 80 cents.  Pretty decent play list.  A lot of my favorites on here.

Edmundo Ros was a Trinidad-born, Venezulean-weaned band leader who made a name for himself in the UK.  Skilled with both percussion and vocals, Ros formed his own orchestra which played in various clubs and restaurants in London. He would also buy his own in 1951.  Ros made many notable recordings during his career.  His last public performance was in 1994.  Ros would pass in 2011, two months shy if his 101th birthday.

This album, released by London Records in 1961 was done at a time when Ros style of music was quickly being supplanted by rock and roll. But it still is a decent album.  It is a collection of songs mostly from either South America or the southern US with some other Latin tunes as well.  Pretty good collection of tunes which are well done.  As the title as well as Ros’ background would suggest, the songs are percussion heavy.  Given this, the songs all feature pretty extensive orchestration. The band does not skimp on other areas for percussion’s sake. Good album.

For a sample, I had many choice to choose from.  I went with “Deep in The Heart of Texas” which is well served by a Latin arrangement.  I also went with “Brazil” because I always go with that song.  I also went with “El Cumbanchero” for reasons that will be apparent next week.

Good album.  Satisfactory.