segunda-feira, 19 de abril de 2010

Les Baxter - Baxter's Best

  1. The Poor People of Paris (Jean's Song)
  2. The Medic Theme (Blue Star)
  3. I Concentrate on You
  4. Ruby
  5. Unchained Melody
  6. Calcutta
  7. Because of You
  8. April in Portugal
  9. All the Things You Are
  10. Blue Tango
  11. Wake the Town and Tell the People
  12. The Shrike
  13. Never on Sunday
  14. I Love Paris
  15. Quiet Village
  16. The High and the Mighty
Baxter's Best
This may not be his "best" if you favor his more adventurous and weirder outings; these are the kind of Baxter productions that became building blocks of the easy listening genre. However, these 16 tracks from 1951-1961 are among his most popular successes, including the hits "The Poor People of Paris," "Blue Tango," "Wake the Town and Tell the People," and "Unchained Melody." ~ Richie Unterberger, All Music Guide

LES of many hits in many musical styles...presents his most popular successes.

Les Baxter has never been overly concerned with transient fads and trends. While others have comp´lained about the "decline in public taste", Les has become famous by sticking to his belief that a fine melody, presented with imagination and an interesting sound, will always find favor with the public. These selections certainly prove his point - and make a great album besides.

Les Baxter was already well known for his outstanding instrumental backings on many hit recordings when he caused a sensation in 1951 with his unique arrangement of one of his own compositions. The tune was "Quiet Village", and its exotic style started a new trend in music which is still climbing in popularity.

Then, in rapid succession, came his hit version of "Blue Tango" and the haunting "April in Portugal". It was the Baxter treatment of "I Love Paris" from "Can-Can" which did most to help that Cole Porter song become a part of nearly every popular performer's repertoire.

In 1953, Les came right back with another big hit, "Wake the Town and Tell the People". Then, exploring other fields of entertainment, he emerged with two great motion-picture themes, "The High and the Mighty" and "Unchained Melody". as before, the success of these recordings did much to establish these songs as standards.

Turning to television, Les recorded the theme from "Medic: Blue Star", another beautiful melody to find public favor via the Baxter treatment. Next in line was that Baxter smash, "The Poor People of Paris", a lively number which was imported from Europe.

Taken singly or together, these tunes offer dramatic examples of Les's versatility and impeccable taste. So it's no wonder that he pays title attention to musical fads, for there is no need to follow trends in music when you can successfully set them yourself. And that's just what Les Baxter does, time and time again.

(From the original liner notes)

Les Baxter is a pianist who composed and arranged for the top swing bands of the '40s and '50s, but he is better known as the founder of exotica, a variation of easy listening that glorified the sounds and styles of Polynesia, Africa, and South America, even as it retained the traditional string-and-horn arrangements of instrumental pop. Exotica became a massively popular trend in the '50s, with thousands of record buyers listening to Baxter, Martin Denny, and their imitators. Baxter also pioneered the use of the electronic instrument the theremin, which has a haunting, howling sound.

Baxter studied piano at the Detroit Conservatory and Pepperdine College in Los Angeles. After he completed school, he abandoned the piano and became a vocalist. When he was 23, he joined Mel Tormé's Mel-Tones. The group sang on Artie Shaw records, including the hit "What Is This Thing Called Love."

In 1950, he became an arranger and conductor for Capitol Records, working on hits by Nat King Cole, including "Mona Lisa." Around the same time, Baxter began recording his own albums. In 1948, he released a triple-78 album called Music out of the Moon, which ushered in space-age pop with its use of the theremin. Four years later, he began recording exotica albums with Le Sacre du Sauvage.

On his early-'50s singles Baxter was relatively straightforward, performing versions of standards like the number one hits "Unchained Melody" and "The Poor People of Paris," but on his albums he experimented with all sorts of world musics, adapting them for his orchestra. As he was recording his exotica albums, Baxter was also the musical director for the radio show Halls of Ivy, plus Abbott & Costello radio shows; he also composed over 100 film scores, concentrating on horror movies and teenage musicals and comedies, though he also did dramas like Giant.

Baxter's heyday was in the '50s and '60s. Although he continued to compose and record in the '70s, his output was sporadic. Nevertheless, a cult following formed around his exotica recordings that persisted into the '90s. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide

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