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Exotic Moods of Les Baxter
Les Baxter
Exotic Moods of Les Baxter
Genres: Jazz, Pop
  •  Track Listings (20) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (20) - Disc #2


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CD Details

All Artists: Les Baxter
Title: Exotic Moods of Les Baxter
Members Wishing: 3
Total Copies: 0
Label: Capitol
Original Release Date: 7/9/1996
Release Date: 7/9/1996
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Style: Easy Listening
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPCs: 724383702527, 099969417559

CD Reviews

Baxter's Masterpieces Finally on CD
loungelizard7 | 07/31/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Les Baxter was one of the greatest American composers, although most wouldn't know it. He was also one of the world's greatest musical minds; chances are you didn't know that, either. Arguably the most under-appreciated great composer of our time, possibly ever, Les Baxter was once a very popular artist who sold albums by the thousands. He arranged and conducted arrangements for popular singers, including lounge diva Yma Sumac's 'Voice of the Xtabay' album; he conducted Nat King Cole's "Mona Lisa" and "Nature Boy" (but not arranged, like most think), composed the "Lassie" theme (yeah, THAT Lassie!), AND the classic "Unchained Melody," scored over a hundred films, and won hits in the 1950s with "April in Portugal," "Ruby," and "The Poor People of Paris," which was, by the way, the highest-selling single of the decade. He fathered the long-forgotten branch of lounge music known as Exotica and turned heads with his records, including the one that started it all, 'Ritual of the Savage,' which gave birth to the Exotica theme, "Quiet Village." Then, suddenly, he was eclipsed by Martin Denny (who became famous with a cover of "Village!"), shunned by Capitol Records, the company he'd helped make famous, and generally forgotten by almost everyone. He died in 1996, terribly affected by Alzheimer's disease; he'd even forget who he was at times, but could sit at a piano and play any of his compositions--flawlessly--from memory. He never got the recognition he deserved. Not so long ago, when the Lounge Lifestyle made its return through hip youngsters with an eye to the past, Baxter's music was rediscovered. And when Capitol (of all companies) released its monolithic Ultra-Lounge series, they created this special 2-CD set, complete with stunning cover art and beautifully arranged, well-informed liner notes, to re-introduce the magic of Baxter's music to the world. The only problem with it is, after you devour this set, there's no more like it on CD, and vinyl is hard to find.'The Exotic Moods of Les Baxter' is a long-overdue tribute to the man who brought us Exotica, and is filled to the brim with his greatest gems of the genre. Kicked off with his theme, the melodic "Quiet Village," Disc 1 takes you all over the world on a flight of musical whimsy. Standouts include a jazz flute on "Jungalero," the Oriental majesty of "Hong Kong Cable Car," the lovely strains of "Jungle Flower" (from 'Ritual'), the cheerful "Acapulco" (you can almost see the coast!), and the lush, romantic "Tahiti: A Summer Night at Sea," which can literally make you forget where you really are. Disc 2 hits the spot with "Pool of Love," the Indiana Jones-ish "Spice Islands Sea Birds," and three numbers from 'Ritual.' "Busy Port," the first song on 'Ritual,' blares with the excitement of a new voyage, "Jungle River Boat" trembles with the promise of adventure, and the wacky and infectious "Love Dance" limbos about. ("Love Dance" was used recently under a bank commercial.) The shining spots of this album, however, belong to the cuts from Baxter's 'African Jazz' and 'Jungle Jazz' albums, both of which heavily featured highly underrated tenor saxophonist Plas Johnson. Perhaps it was because Baxter once played tenor himself (he also sang backup with Mel Torme's The Mel-Tones), but Johnson always got the spotlight on these recordings and stole the show song after song. He did his best work when with Baxter, and it is scattered generously throughout this set. His be-bopping solos on "Papagayo" and the jamming "Safari" (dig that beat!) are great. He's even better on the chugging "Congo Train," and the birdsong that pours from his sax on the gorgeous "Amazon Falls" is pure gold. "Voodoo Dreams" is one of Baxter's best recordings, the epitome of Polynesian Exotica, with Johnson doing a smoky, sexy turn. (This song sounds even better when packaged with Baxter's "Voodoo" on the Ultra-Lounge Fuzzy Sampler and Volume 1.) Three songs in the set are not really Exotica at all, but pure jazz. "Mombasa After Midnight" is slow and sizzling, with excellent trumpet and piano work. "Go Chango" reminds me very much of something Duke Ellington would have done, especially after Johnson's playful solo, when it descends into a crashing Ellingtonian swing session. "Blue Jungle" I saved for last because it is my personal favorite. Led by Johnson's tenor at its sensual best, it starts out like the underscore from the opening narration of an old detective movie, then very quickly becomes a catchy, jazzy swing number. Johnson, as well as Baxter, never fails to disappoint. No lounge of Exotica aficionado's collection is complete without this set of Baxter's best straight from the master himself, and anyone looking to immerse themselves in the fascinating depths of either of these genres can get there very well via this set. Les Baxter was, in a word, brilliant. Find out just how brilliant--buy this set."
Music from God
carrienations | Philadelphia, PA United States | 01/31/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Les Baxter is one of, if not THE, most underrecognized composers of the 20th century. The only negative thing that I can say about this 2-disc set is that it doesn't contain everything from this period in Les Baxter's career. The production of the original music was superb, and it is magnificently reproduced on CD. This music might as well have come from inside the Ark of the Covenant.... it is so marvelous that only the hands of God could have created it. If you have an interest in the resurgent "lounge" or "exotica" worlds of music, do yourself a favor and start with the best... this is the absolute high-water mark. I am a long-time collector of exotica LPs, so I've practically heard them all... Baxter's music is among the few that will remain timeless. I'm a devout fan for life. Be prepared to be transferred to a wonderful mysterious world..."
Don | WA | 09/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This CD is great!
However the used prices are sky-high.
Amazon should have an option, to add people to a list of those who whant this item, when it is re-released.