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The Very Best of Arthur Lyman
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Fine introduction to an Exotica master's work
hyperbolium | Earth, USA | 04/15/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As the vibraphonist in Martin Denny's landmark late-50s Hawaii-based combo, Lyman is rightly lauded as a co-inventor of the Exotica sound. Having split shortly after Denny's first album, Lyman formed his own group and charted a unique musical course through dozens of albums. While Denny took on more worldly (and often kitschy) instrumentation, Lyman gathered melodies from around the globe and flavored them with both a tropical sound that mixed world percussion with a deeper jazz perspective. Having spent his childhood studying Lionel Hampton's work, the latter is no surprise.Beginning with "Taboo" in 1958 (represented here by the title track, along with two pillars of the exotica ouvre, "Misirlou" and "Caravan") and carrying through to 1965's "Hawaiian Sunset Vol. 2" (represented here by a superbly relaxed rendition of "Beyond the Reef"), Varese presents eighteen well selected sides, taken from twelve of the artist's key LPs for Hi-Fi Records. Lyman's signature tune (and only chart hit), "Yellow Bird," opens the disc with his vibraphone providing the gentle breeze on which the track floats, and his version of the exotica national anthem, "Quiet Village," though not the icon Martin Denny's interpretation has become, shows off his group's powerful side.The vibrancy of Lyman's music was enhanced by the unusual stage on which it was recorded. After splitting with Denny, Lyman signed on for a regular gig at Henry J. Kaiser's Shell Bar in Honolulu. In turn, this led to recording in Kaiser's aluminum domed auditorium. The acoustics of the dome provided a perfect setting for Lyman's multi-instrumentalists, capturing the warmth and invention of the group's sound. Denny and Lyman's early records were often used to demonstrate hi-fi systems in the late '50s, and though the transfers here and generally quite crisp and provide a wide stereo image, there if some minor tape hiss evident on a few tracks. (To be fair to Varese, this is true of all of Lyman's CD reissues, no doubt prompted by a desire to leave intact as much of the music as possible).These eighteen tracks provide a fine introduction to Lyman's music, covering his first seven years as a recording artist. Those wanting to hear more from this essential era can find CD reissues of Lyman original LPs, "Taboo," "Taboo 2" "Hawaiian Sunset," "Yellow Bird," "The Legend of Pele," and "Leis of Jazz." Catch them now, though, as they have a habit of going out of print!4-1/2 stars, if Amazon allowed fractional reviews."
Beautiful Music from a Beautiful Man
hyperbolium | 03/22/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What can I say? This gentle man and his group gave us some of the most beautiful music to remember him by. Gentle melodies and sounds to soothe your entire being. Arthur Lyman was a special special person. His death in 2002 was definitely a loss to the music world. He is missed."
ANOTHER ISLANDS EXOTIC GREATEST
HOT MIX | Southwest Desert | 07/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The sounds herein are as delicious and exotic-islandy as the cover. Whenever I want to be mentally transported to another land I put on Arthur Lyman and Martin Denny."