Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Roots of The Three Suns

Actually, I hate the term "roots." I'll have to be honest. Part of the reason I hate "roots" is because it's ambiguous. Does it mean "the foundation of" or "a precursor to"? Both meanings pop up all of the time in music reviews, which is why I consider it sort of a joke term. But it's such a standard one, I can't resist using it. Only my psychiatrist knows for sure, and he's forbidden me to come back. "You're crazy!" he yelled, as he kicked me out of his office.

Enough weirdness. Unless we find it strange that The Three Suns' sound preceded them. And it did, by a number of years. Proof: Jesse Crawford's highly-TS-sounding A Precious Little Thing Called Love, from 1929. I don't know who the other guys are....

A Precious Little Thing Called Love, Jesse Crawford, organ. 1929.

More Three-Suns-esque sounds from organist Lew White--don't know who's on the xylophone. This dates from the earliest period of The Three Suns, but White had been doing this for a while. I'm trying to get my paws on White's late-1920s/early-1930s material:

The Whistler and His Dog (Arthur Pryor, 1905), Lew White, 1941.

And here's Lew White with two musical helpers--this one is way Three Suns. And, just between you and me, it also sounds way pre-1941, but that appears to have been the year:

The Wedding of the Painted Doll (Freed-Brown, 1929), Lew White, 1941.

Hopefully, I can land a copy of White's 1929 Brunswick recording of Doll....

The original sheet music cover for The Whistler and His Dog, courtesy of


Thursday, December 15, 2005

Tamboo, Caravan, Hindustan

Or, how exotica can ya get-ica?

I never heard of Tamboo until I came across this recording of it. The parallel ninth chords in the middle section immediately made me think of Les Baxter--who, it turns out, recorded an LP called Tamboo in 1956. You Baxter fans already knew that, but I didn't. My ears made an astute connection, there.

Here, from 1955, is the American Symphonic Band of the Air with a terrific rendition of Francisco Cavez' samba (please click on the label image for MP3 file):

And, from 1952, here is the exoti-standard Caravan, as played by the harmonica duo Martin and Brown (with steel guitar assistance, I'm assuming):

Caravan (Duke Ellington, Juan Tizol, Irving Mills), Martin and Brown, The Harmonica Duo, 1952. From Republic label 45.

From harmonicas to harp (wait a minute....), here's Robert (Ebb Tide) Maxwell with the 1918 Oliver G. Wallace and Harold Weeks hit, Hindustan:

Hindustan (Wallace, Weeks), Robert Maxwell, 1953, from Mercury label LP.

More to come-ica!


Friday, December 02, 2005

Exoti-Boogie: Rosa Linda, Ben Light, and Louise Wilcher

Some keyboard Exotica for your enjoyment, beginning with Louise Wilcher and Harry Campell's 1941 organ-and-Novachord version of Amapola (Pretty Little Poppy). The best kind of futuristic, oom-pah skating-rink music (perfect for futuristic, oom-pah skating rinks):

Amapola (Pretty Little Poppy), Louise Wilcher, Hammond Organ; Harry Campbell, Novachord, 1941. From Columbia 78.

From 1948, the "lightning fingers" of Ben Light (piano), with Herb Kern (organ) and Lloyd Sloop (Novachod). For years, I've seen Ben Light 78s on Tempo, never buying a one. What a mistake. To my ears, the Novachord gives this a '70s, post-electric-piano sort of sound. I had a patch that sounded exactly like it on my Korg Poly-800 synthesizer.

Benny's Boogie, Featuring the Lightning Fingers of Ben Light (at the Steinway), with Herb Kern (at the Hammond) and Lloyd Sloop (at the Novachord)," 1948. From 78 on Tempo 506.

And now for two incredible sides by pianist Rosa Linda, who performed Gershwin's Cuban Overture in 1938 with Paul Whiteman's orchestra and who appeared in the musicals Banquet of Melody (1946), and Carnegie Hall (1947). Rosa also cut Will Success Spoil Rock-maninoff for the Era label in 11957. From, here's an image of that cover:

We're going to hear Tabu and Flight 88, both recorded for Allen Records in 1953. Rosa, by way of tape effects (including sped-up tracks and sound-on-sound) achieves an uncanny imitation of Ferrante and Teicher.

Tabu (Margarita Lecuona, 1941), Rosa Linda at the Piano, 1953. From Allen Records 232 (78 RPM).

Flight 88 (R. Linda), Rosa Linda at the Piano, 1953. From Allen Records 232 (78 RPM).

More early Exotica/lounge sounds to come....