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Tiki Central Forums » » Tiki Music » » 1960 HiFi / Stereo Review 5-page article on Exotica (scanned)
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1960 HiFi / Stereo Review 5-page article on Exotica (scanned)
bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11244
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2010-01-21 10:22 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2010-01-21 08:40, virani wrote:
I love in this article the phrase : "the educated whinings of the theremin". That's really well writen !!



And I had no idea that that was Les Baxter's first appearance on a record! I am glad I have the CD of that album, at least...

Maybe he just didn't like Yma, she sure is an acquired taste. He was more into Asian Exotica, it seems, if one goes by the titles of his books. Maybe he was stationed in Asia in WWII?, I couldn't find any specific info about that. And maybe he considered Yma more "folk", or anthropological music, like Elizabeth Waldo and Marais and Miranda, and not loungey enogh. Though she was a Les Baxter protege.

But his grasp of the genre, naming Arty, Marty and Les as the prinicipals, and listing such albums as White Goddess and Exotic Island, is amazing. It's as if someone would have written an article about the evolution of Tiki style naming Don, Vic and Steve back then.

And that guy grows on me the more I find out about him:

"He was active in the California nudist society,
He worked as a pilot, music critic, newspaper columnist and public relations director before becoming a fiction writer.
He held a black belt in Aikido."

That was my martial art, too! Now all that is missing is that he had a Tiki backyard at his house in Encino!


[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki 2010-01-23 13:54 ]


 
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Jeff Central
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Joined: Jul 23, 2002
Posts: 1605
From: Columbus, Ohio
Posted: 2010-01-21 1:26 pm   Permalink

[quote]
On 2010-01-21 10:22, bigbrotiki wrote:
Quote:

And maybe he considered Yma more "folk", or anthropological music, like Elizabeth Waldo and Marais and Miranda, and not loungey enogh. Though she was a Les Baxter protege.




That's what I was thinking too! He probably considered Yma more World or Folk type music.

Is the author still alive Bigbro?

Jeff


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11244
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2010-01-21 1:54 pm   Permalink

Nope: (1911 - 1988)

 
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Urban Tiki
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Joined: Aug 18, 2004
Posts: 527
From: The Tropical Isle of Manhattan
Posted: 2010-01-22 06:27 am   Permalink

Great find, thanks for sharing.

 
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thejab
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 2986
From: Tradewinds Apartments, Alameda, CA
Posted: 2010-01-23 11:38 am   Permalink

My pleasure, and thanks Sven for digging up that fascinating info about the author.

 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11244
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2010-01-23 1:35 pm   Permalink

I seem to have this inquisitive streak...can you tell?

The internet makes it so easy nowaday's, but then again it only goes so far...
For example, I could only find two photos of the fella, and they don't look that much alike!? :



(though with age and weight, my face has gotten a bit rounder, too...)

The most interesting description of him besides the usual Mystery novel website bios was this piece by a fellow writer:

>>University of California’s Mystery Library project and thereby got to spend quality time with the project’s instigator: John Ball, author of In the Heat of the Night (1965) and creator of black detective Virgil Tibbs.
John too was a Munchausen of the first water. The instant any famous name was mentioned in his presence, from Gene Autry to the Dalai Lama, he would claim to know the person well and toss off an anecdote. Shostakovich? “Ah yes, he played the piano for us in this very room when he was last in the States.”
And what tales he’d spin about his hair-raising adventures around the world! Traveling in Asia, he was invited by the local police to help track down some notorious terrorist. On a secret mission behind the Iron Curtain he lured a Stasi agent who was shadowing him into a public urinal in East Berlin and killed him with one karate chop.

If you knew a bit about his life — that he’d been a licensed pilot and had traveled widely in Japan and had reviewed classical music for a Brooklyn newspaper and was a police reservist and a martial arts maven — you could almost believe these yarns, which he garnished with vivid detail.
Perhaps his biggest whopper, and one he should never have perpetrated because so many people saw through it, was that almost everything in the movie based on In the Heat of the Night had been taken from his novel.
Of course, what made that film so successful was the conflict between Sidney Poitier as Tibbs and the racist cop played by Rod Steiger. Go try to find a smidgen of that conflict in John’s novel.
John worshiped every badge he saw. In his world racist cops are like dry water, categorically impossible. Even on the plot level director Norman Jewison and screenwriter Stirling Silliphant junked much of the book, including everything about the murder victim trying to make that sleepy Southern town a Mecca for classical music.
But even when we saw through John’s tall tales it was tremendous fun to watch him spin them. He was the kind of personality that made Casper Gutman say to Sam Spade: “By Gad, sir, you’re a character, that you are!” I thank Christopher Buckley for rekindling my memories of him."

So we find out that he was an entertaining character, a talker, who made up stories on top of having lived them. And that he was a cop friend, and his main known credit, the Oscar-winning "In the Heat of the Night", was only loosely built on his novel.

The main thing of interest for me was this info:
"...If you knew a bit about his life — that he’d been a licensed pilot and had traveled widely in Japan and had reviewed classical music for a Brooklyn newspaper and was a police reservist and a martial arts maven...<<

...which was corroborated by my findings in this book I had ordered from Amazon Used Books:

Though this British 1972 edition has an ugly 70s font as the cover...



...he had written part of his author's inscription in Japanese! And his Bio on the jacket confirmed what I had previously assumed:


His WWII job must have carried him to Asia. So no wonder he was all eyes for Sondi Sodsai and Etherl Azama, and not for Yma.

Plus the curious fact that the ONLY image of the Institute of Aronautical Sciences in Los Angeles (the building does not exist anymore) I could find on the net was this photo:



...with the credit: "Possibly coronation of Lillian Takaki at the California Intercollegiate Nisei Organization (CINO) coronation dance held at the Institute of Aeronautical Science, Los Angeles, California, December 17, 1955"


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11244
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2010-01-23 1:51 pm   Permalink

You know, I wouldn't be surprised if his wife (and his family) in Encino was/ is Nisei Japanese. Anybody here who can find that out?
My affinity for Japanese culture and classic martial arts predates my Tiki obsession, but it is still present.




[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki 2010-01-25 16:20 ]


 
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GROG
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Jun 21, 2006
Posts: 6915
From: Tujunga
Posted: 2010-01-23 11:25 pm   Permalink

What is that bigbro, and do you know what it says?

 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11244
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2010-01-24 10:42 am   Permalink

No, I don't read Japanese myself. It's my certificate of proficiency in Aikido and Iaido, the Art of Drawing the Japanese Sword. I forgot what dan (or belt) I got. I used to practice on the beach in Malibu, until one day in 1988 the police helicopter that checks for nudists and alcohol along the beaches landed because they saw me swing my katana:


Here I am walking up to the helicopter. I'm glad my wife snapped these pics. Looks like a duel between 15th century and the future.

And here I am explaining to the nice officers that I am using only a non-sharpened practice blade. They let me keep it:



My friend Moritz R., who was visiting from Germany, is holding a respectful distance. I think this event created his belief that America is a police state. Hey, it's just like getting pulled over in traffic!

[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki 2010-01-25 16:21 ]


 
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Kawentzmann
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Joined: Mar 28, 2002
Posts: 254
From: Berlin, Germany
Posted: 2010-01-24 12:00 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2010-01-24 10:42, bigbrotiki wrote:






Looks like from a movie I wouldn’t want to miss. Like Bruce Lee in New-Guinea.


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11244
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2010-01-24 12:19 pm   Permalink

Well, I will refrain from posting the picture that was taken seconds later: The two halfed bodies lying in the red sand!

 
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professortiki
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Nov 27, 2002
Posts: 35
From: Berlin, Germany
Posted: 2010-01-25 05:48 am   Permalink

Well, there is definitely something I would like to say about this. First of all, these guys did NOT let you continue to rehearse with your sword, although we were on a completely empty beach. One guy unbelievably said "You know, it's a sword. If it was a gun I wouldn't mind, but a sword really scares me". Secondly THEY ordered me to stay away from the scene. Thirdly, the thing about this incident that stays in my mind, is that these guys both were wearing helmets with mirrorglass visors. You could not see their faces at all. They looked exactly alike. In case of anything they'd be doing to you, you were unable to tell, which of the two did it. Even an eye witness would not help you. And I am convinced, that's exactly the point.
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11244
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2010-01-25 4:16 pm   Permalink

Yah Herr Professor! Thank you for being my eye witness, if not for that (and the pictures) nobody would have believed this actually happened. I do think though if I would be walking up to a dude I just saw wield a 30 inch blade I would keep my visor down -- it's an old custom.

But not to get more off-topic than we already did, back to the genre of Exotica music, and my belief that it's popularity was in part due to America's fascination with Asia in the 50s and 60s, which I believe was forged by the contact with it that was made by so many Americans in the second World War (just like in Polynesia). Some of the very same people that inspired Polynesian pop did so with Asian pop, mainly Rogers & Hammerstein and James Michener...



In the years after the war, there were tons of movies, books, and music portraying American- Asian relations...






Now I do NOT want to start an "Asian Pop" thread on TIKI Central, I am saying Asia's had a notable effect on the EXOTICA music genre (!)
Chinese cuisine and Asian waitresses and dancers played a role in Tiki culture, as mentioned in the BOT...




...but in terms of STYLE , design and decor, it was not a defining factor (the "Asian" font excepted).

Let me close my observations with a quote from my upcoming CD booklet:

As the 1955 paperback edition of James Michener’s “Sayonara” touts: “This challenging novel probes into the question of why so many American men prefer the tender and submissive women of the exotic East”.


 
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Mr. Ho
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Joined: Oct 09, 2005
Posts: 433
From: Boston, MA
Posted: 2010-01-25 10:16 pm   Permalink

So, some other thoughts on this posting (again, very excited that this was tracked down!)

First off, I think it's interesting to reflect the author saying that all music worth recording had been recorded already! That's a sign of the times: that a few people held the reigns on what was deemed OK to be recorded; you didn't have home studios and alas, as much as amateur music on the market. But, with that comes filtering out less mainstream sound; there was no internet or other large body of people to help vote up and down what was liked and wasn't. Regardless of whether it was democratic or not, on most of these records I have, there is a serious, studied approach to the music being presented , regardless of style. So, the filtering done by the labels and the producers, had more knowledge about music than I think most "producers" do today. Knowledge of scoring and instrumentation, and instrumental prowess were all required by composers (without the repertoire ever approaching virtuosity or self-indulgence) such that the artist's effects were conveyed, whether via Western instruments or Eastern.

On the other hand, I can't help but often listen to these records and feel like many of the attempts fell short of trying to present exotic far-away music authentically; there are a few different ways to look at this from my perspective as a percussionist and somebody who plays music from a very wide range of cultures and traditions around the globe:

* The artists tried to present the sounds authentically on Western instruments but didn't really know the material, or filled in the holes with western approaches to harmony, instrument choice, and especially rhythm, where they didn't really know what else to do
* The artists tried to present the sounds unauthentically ("Exotically" but not literally trying to be authentic) - an intentional "faux" sound
* The artists THOUGHT they were presenting the music "authentically" (to some degree) - whether they were or not in reality.

The "cheese" factor on some of the tunes drives me nuts; there are beautiful lush interps of standards, and original music "inside the exotica boundaries" and other times, the tunes are pretty lame, and poor executions of "exotic" sounds that seem to me to usually be a result of juxtaposing the wrong instrument choices with a style that doesnt match or vice versa. I can't help but wonder if there was a guessing game going on , trying multiple combinations just to see what would work/stick/rise up on the charts. My guess is that there wasn't that much pre-meditated thought; there was perhaps a consideration for what audiences could digest, and then there was a westernized approach to arranging that music for the recording in such a way that it would be a hi-fi success--itself which is interesting since the end goal seemed to be as much about the medium as the art. Or, maybe they couldn't get the right players - if you couldn't read music, you probably weren't recording back then.

With all the talk in the article about eastern music and bringing the sounds of far away places to listeners: I am definitely not proposing that good exotica means "authentic music from exotic places" here; my enjoyment in writing for the Orchestrotica Mini and previously, for WAITIKI, was the ability to combine elements of harmony, rhythm, melody, instrument choice, and culture however I wanted and still keep it under a general umbrella of music called "exotica" that would be enjoyable to the listener without having to "know" about it extensively. That said, when I apply something from another musical tradition outside my own (whatever that may be), I like knowing why I did it, and how I did it - and if I changed it in some way, I like to be able to express that to an interested party at a show, in private, or whatever. I've actually found that most audiences enjoy getting a little bit "more" from the composer about what's behind the music, especially new music, and exotica definitely is "new" these days to most listeners outside TC and other niche arena. It's fascinating to read this critics interpretation of the composers and artists of the day and compare that to my own assumptions. Thanks again for tracking this down bigbrotiki!

Mr. Ho

----
Mr. Ho's Orchestrotica and Orchestrotica Mini
www.orchestrotica.com


_________________
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Esquivel Big Band & Global Jazz Quintet
“no group on the planet sounds like the Orchestrotica”–Lucid Culture
http://orchestrotica.com/ ••• New album Nov. 2013


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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11244
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2010-01-25 11:41 pm   Permalink

Nonono, not me, the Jab posted it, after a friend had given him the magazine. A real discovery, indeed!

About your heartfelt musings about the authenticity of the music, and the reviewer's understanding of it:

To me it is, just like with Tiki and Polynesian pop, all about what people back then were capable of producing as what they thought was an authentic representation of the culture. Not that they necessarily believed that it WAS the culture, but they felt good about creating a close enough representation of it, as an expression of their fascination with it.

It seems you are still judging it, even though you are aware of that, with all your intellectual and musical experience of today, which is far superior to most peoples level of awareness back then. I am not to saying they were dumb and ignorant, they actually were as open-minded and culturally educated as they possibly could have been --for the time. And to me, in some way, this lack of knowing, this innocence, is what makes Exotica ( AND Tiki ) so charming today.


 
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