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Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Exotic Sounds of the Japanese Bamboo Flute

The Exotic Sounds of the Japanese Bamboo Flute
Olympic Records 6170

From the back cover: Watazumido-Shuso is the head of a sect which he himself established, not fully satisfied with the existing three Zen sects of Buddhism.

Through the Japanese flute, Watazumido-Shuso has attained musical and spiritual heights unachieved by anyone else. He is also expert with many other musical instruments and is well known to avant-garde musicians overseas through his records. He serves as advisor to many temples.

Instead of using the traditional Japanese 'shakuhachi' flute, Watazumido-Shuso performs his extraordinary music on 'Hotchiku,' flutes made from untreated bamboo of the ordinary type.

Through use of 'Hotchiku' flute, the true feeling of the Watazumido sect of Zen can be understood, according to Watazumido-Shuso.

The "Hotchiku" flutes range in size from 25 cm to 103 cm and have anywhere from five to twelve holes. Practically all are held and blown vertically like the clarinet, but there is one type blown like the flute.

As pointed out in the explanations of the various tunes, Watazumido-Shuso improvises often because the music is the expression of his feelings.


There are very few albums that feature a single instrument that can hold my interest. This isn't one of them. Even though the bamboo flute is an expressive instrument, the range of expression seems too limited to carry an entire album. Any one track is an interesting experience... but after a while I was hoping for a small jazz combo to jump in and perk things up.

Cha Cha Cha

Negra Mi Cha-Cha-Cha (My Baby)

Facundo Rivera and his Quartet
Cha-Cha-Cha
The New Exciting Dance Rhythm From Cuba
RCA Victor LPM-1081
1955

Fresh from Cuba and the mid 1950s came Cha-Cha. Dance teacher Monsieur Pierre brought the step from Cuban to England in 1952 where he eventually created what is known now as ballroom cha-cha-cha. So this is an early cha-cha example.

Cha-cha jacket designs are frequently energetic and colorful. This design is understated and elegant. The music is doesn't stray to far from the root source. What sets it apart from similar LPs are various vocal treatments and instrumental flourishes employed from time to time that help hold interest.

The engineering sounds like "single microphone". The sound is crisp and well balanced.

This is a compilation album. Artists are only credited on the record label. This album seems to be RCA's way of introducing the music form to the public, rather than using the platform as a way to market the artist(s).

South Pacific - Penthouse Studio Orchestra

Bali Ha'i
South Pacific
Audition ADD 33-5927

Starring the Penthouse Studio Orchestra & Chorus with Dottie Evans, Michael Stewart, Lois Winter, Loren Becker and Anita Lawrence

Check out this South Pacific album by The Bobby Hammack Quintet

Nothing But Percussion Vol. 2 - Bobby Christian

The Japanese Temple
Nothing But Percussion, Volume 2
Composed and Conducted By Bobby Christian
Westminster WP-6131

Side one of this record features a stunning musical journey titled Mt. Fujiyama Suite. The sample track posted above is from that side is titled The Japanese Temple. Exotica or simply experimental, it was the surprise find in this weeks thrift picks.

Side two features a collection titled Percussion In Velvet. I believe that this album is a reissue of a Westminster album titled Percussion In Velvet. Side two is slightly more "pop" but still mood setting and space age.

I didn't have much success tracking down the release date of either album or another instance of this cover image on the web. I remember seeing the first release for sale on Ebay. The cover on that album is a lot of fun. This cover image, I think, matches the vibe.

Highly recommended!

Placid
Moonlight Reflections
Suicide
Eruption
The Japanese Temple
Valson
Impressions
Night Shadows
Speak Low
Blue Frog

Electronic Music Vol. IV

Pril Smiley: Eclipse (1967)
Columbia-Princeston Electronic Music Center
Electronic Music Vol. IV
Turnabout TV 34301

Selections are works by winners of the First International Electronic Music Competition – Dartmouth College, 1968

Artists include: Oily W. Wilson, Pril Smiley, Jozef Malovec, Eugeniusz Rudnik, William Hellerman and Bohan Mazurek.

The scintillating cover design is credited to Richard Anuszkiewicz.

Friday, April 15, 2011

More Themes From The James Bond Thrillers

Miami
More Themes From The James Bond Thrillers
The Roland Shaw Orchestra
London PS 445
1966

One of a series of "spy" albums made by Roland beginning with Themes from the James Bond Thrillers in 1964 and ending with The Return Of James Bond In "Diamonds Are Forever" which you can find blogged here.

This release is a mix of "soundtrack" flavored tunes and good old 60s groovy spy fun.

Follow The Sun - Philip Green And His Mayfair Orchestra

Tangier Intrigue
Follow The Sun
Philip Green And His Mayfair Orchestra
Capitol Records T10118

I found one other blog post featuring this album, but with a different cover design. I wasn't able to determine the label from the scan. This capitol pressing may be a reissue of a 1958 English release.

Although there seems to be sources to download the entire album, the record still seems a touch obscure. The music is sparkling easy listening influenced by "exotica" trends of the time. There are a number of very good tracks on the album that transcend easy listening without getting crazy.

The cover image is curious. At quick glance the image is colorful and well balanced, but then you might notice the girl standing itching or adjusting her top and the fact that everyone is basically looking away. No one is interacting.

Songs For All Seasons

It's Gonna Be Christmas

Satan's Prison

Mother Will Always Pray
Songs For All Seasons
Royal Master Records
RM 1313

Here is another song poem album presented for your enjoyment or as a test of what you know to be decent and good.

Song poems albums were created by enterprising individuals who solicited poems in the back of cheap magazines. Real people such as the folks pictured on the back cover would respond with their poems and receive a letter of acceptance, a glowing review and a request for cash to help put their work to music.

As is the case with the other Royal Master albums I have in the collection, the vocals were recorded on top of canned, or stock music. On this album the SAME stock tunes were used more than one time. In several cases the vocalist ran out of words and the stock tune just plays out for a bit to end the song. Of courts, it is hard to beat the thoughtless banality of the cover design.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Jazz Masquerade - The Modern Jazz Stars

Jazz Masquerade
The Modern Jazz Stars
Crown Records CLP 5009
1959

Not a rare record and I'm not into blogging jazz but I loved the mysterious cover! The album is available on a pricey Japanese import CD.

The tracks seems like live concert recordings bundled together from various sources.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Falla - Nights In The Garden Of Spain

Falla
El Amore Brujo
Nights In The Garden Of Spain
Orchestre du Theatre National de I'Opera de Paris
Manuel Rosenthal - Conductor
Featuring Yvonne Loriod - Piano and Amparito Peris De Pruliere - Mezzo-soprano
Westminster WST 14021

Westminster, a label founded in 1949, became popular with audiophiles due to the high quality "natural balance" single microphone recordings they issued. In the late 50s the company began to press stereophonic recordings. I can't find the exact release date for this album, but an educated guess would be 1958 or 59.

I'm not a classical music buff but I love this piece. The album cover is what first grabbed me, a lovely and mysterious photo manipulation that seems technically experimental for the period.

Airport Love Theme - Vincent Bell

The Shadow Of Your Smile
Airport Love Theme
Vincent Bell
Decca Records DL 75212
1970

This is one of two Vincent Bell albums that I've run across. You might want to check out The Best Of Vincent Bell.

Both albums are excellent. I wasn't able to date the release of The Best Of Vincent Bell. That album obviously predates this one and is "exotica" in sound. This album is very "60s" and relies heavily on the "watery" guitar sound that Bell created and was used to contribute to the success of Ferrante and Teicher's hit recording of Midnight Cowboy. 

Bell was a prolific studio musician who worked along side of the likes of Al Caiola and Tony Mottola.

He designed guitars for Danelectro, Coral and other companies.

Bell's work is somewhat understated in this funky easy listening effort. He used guitar/effects to augment and make the overall sound unique. This is a great album.

Airport Love Theme
Nikki
Marilyn's Theme
Theme From "The Damned"
Loss Of Love (Theme From "Sunflower")
Farewell, Farewell
Everybody's Talkin
Darling Lili
Love Theme From "Romeo & Juliet"
The Shadow Of Your Smile (Love Theme From "The Sandpiper")

Monday, April 11, 2011

Hollywood Song Jubilee

Baby Blue - Ronald Page And Daniel Boucher
Don't Call Me - Lilas Terrell
Hollywood Song Jubilee
JA-5
1989

Song poem album with production values that dress up the poems somewhat more than some other song poem efforts. But that doesn't mean that there aren't any curiosities to be heard.