Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Show 9: Atkins/Schifrin

What do Chet Atkins and Lalo Schifrin have in common? Not much, except:
-they both made some great music
-they both had birthdays very recently (Chet Atkins: June 20, 1924 –June 30, 2001 / Lalo Schifrin: June 21, 1932– )
-though their music is not exotica, both do perform songs that are not out of place in a Tiki bar like the Mauna Loa Lounge.

So here are a couple of selections each from Atkins and Schifrin. I tried to feature Schifrin’s work both as a composer and arranger. For Atkins, I just played a couple of tunes from a great RCA Living Stereo album that features Atkins using a wonderfully warm sounding nylon string guitar.

More Atkins info here.
More Schifrin info here.

Song 1 : : Delicado
Artist : : Chet Atkins
Album : : The Other Chet Atkins

Nice version of this familiar latin number...

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Song 2 : : The Wave
Artist : : Lalo Schifrin
Album : : Piano, Strings and Bossa Nova

Great early composition by Schifrin. I’m actually not too crazy about the over the top strings on this record but the piano is great...

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Song 3 : : Borneo
Artist : : Cal Tjader
Album : : Several Shades of Jade

Schifrin’s arrangement of his own composition appearing on Tjader’s album. Groovy exotic jazz... and it works well in the Tiki bar.

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Song 4 : : Poinciana (Song of the Tree)
Artist : : Chet Atkins
Album : : The Other Chet Atkins

More laid back but just as appropriate to play in the Lounge while enjoying a Chi Chi or a Planter’s Punch.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Show 8: Summer Songs

It’s official... summer starts tomorrow. So let’s welcome the summer season with a few different types of summer songs...

Song 1 : : The Warmth of the Sun
Artist : : Gary Usher
Album : : Add Some Music to Your Day (A 1970 Symphonic Tribute to Brian Wilson)

This record was put together by Brian’s friend Gary Usher (co-writer of In My Room) back in 1970. From what I understand, the idea was to cheer up Brian and also to cash in on the easy listening market. Due to a situation with the record label it was never released... until a few years ago. Nice versions of some good Beach Boys songs... Lots of harpsichord. As well as members of the LA Symphony, the record features several “Wrecking Crew” members who played on the original Beach Boys tracks.

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Song 2 : : The Lonely Surfer
Artist : : Jack Nitzsche
Album : : The Lonely Surfer

A surf song... but not what you’d normally think of when you think of a surf song. This record also features members of the “Wrecking Crew.” Plenty to read about composer / arranger / producer / musician Jack Nitzsche and his amazing career here.

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Song 3 : : Summer Breeze
Artist : : Jackie Mitoo
Album : : The Keyboard King of Studio One

A cool, breezy island version of Seals and Crofts early 70s song. Not sure they got all the lyrics quite right. Jackie Mitoo is amazing though... Founding member of the Skatalites and, yes, the keyboard king of Jamaica’s Studio One. Some info here.

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Song 4 : : Summer Samba
Artist : : Combustible Edison
Album : : Blue Light (EP)

Also known as So Nice. This is a great, laid back summer tune. Cool that the late, great Combustible Edison did a version of it... from an early EP by the band.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Show 7: Swedish Exotica

A bit of Swedish Exotica courtesy of my friend Adam Axelzon and his father Bo, from Stockholm. All songs are from a recent, privately pressed CD called Tiki Twilight. A unique combination of sounds and styles, blending exotica and 50s Afro-Cuban jazz... all by way of Sweden. Read my interview with Adam from a couple of years back here.

Song 1 : : Nature Boy
Artist : : Bo Axelzon’s Exotic Orchestra
Album : : Tiki Twilight

Classic tune penned by Eden Ahbez for Nat King Cole who made it famous.

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Song 2 : : Temptation
Artist : : Bo Axelzon’s Exotic Orchestra
Album : : Tiki Twilight

A melody written by the same two guys who wrote “Singing in the Rain.” Here the band uses Polynesian log drums in a driven up-tempo beat, letting a Ess-clarinet take the lead melody.

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Song 3 : : Frenesi
Artist : : Bo Axelzon’s Exotic Orchestra
Album : : Tiki Twilight

Written by Alberto Dominguez in 1939... performed by numerous artists ranging from Xavier Cugat to Lee Hazlewood.

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Song 4 : : Quiet Village
Artist : : Bo Axelzon’s Exotic Orchestra
Album : : Tiki Twilight

Les Baxter’s ultimate Tiki tune... This version uses trumpet, mallets, four clarinets, and drums.

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Show 6: Architecture

Architecture! Songs about houses, homes, Brazilian architecture, little grass shacks... along with comments from a couple of iconic figures of twentieth century modern architecture...

Song 1 : : Tennis
Artist : : Lindberg-Hemmer Foundation
Album : : Brazilian Architecture

Music inspired by the architecture of Oscar Niemeyer... by a Danish organ and bass duo! Can’t tell you much about the Lindberg-Hemmer Foundation except that this record is great and they’ve got another one called “Scandinavian Supermarket Music at its Finest” that I have yet to get my hands on. Some info can be found here and here.

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Song 2 : : A House is Not a Home
Artist : : Burt Bacharach
Album : : Reach Out

Mr. Bacharach can compose a fine song... but he’s not the greatest singer. I was inspired to play this after hearing a friend comment about staying in a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Here’s a link to a Bacharach fan web-site called – you guessed it – A House is Not a Homepage.

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Song 3 : : My Little Grass Shack
Artist : : The Mauna Loa Islanders
Album : : Music of the Islands

One day, I hope to get me a little grass shack in Kealakekua, Hawaii. Until then, I’ll shoot for making it to Waikiki for my 50th birthday (nine years away)... let’s call it Hawaii 5-0. This record is straight out of my dad’s record collection. This is the one that is responsible for turning me on to all things Tiki! I reviewed it here.