Thursday, January 26, 2017

Les Baxter - The Ritual of the Savage

Composer: Les Baxter
Title: Ritual of the Savage
Year: 1951
While Ritual of the Savage has the distinction of arguably being the first concept album, its most essential contribution is that it marks the birth of Exotica, a genre that would come into full bloom over the next decade, entering the mainstream in 1957 with Martin Denny's fittingly-titled album Exotica.  While Denny dropped the strings in favor of vibraphones and added the distinctive element of birdcalls, Ritual is a decidedly orchestral work and as such has a slightly more removed, reflective feeling.  That is, it comes through as a musical recollection of a journey to a distant land rather than being the journey itself.  Though Denny's later sound along with that of Arthur Lyman would largely come to define Exotica, Ritual is essential listening for anyone interested in the genre and many of its distinctive compositions can be heard throughout the albums of the later arrangers.

1 comment:

  1. Anecdote: Some winter long ago when I was in my early twenties, I fell so in love with the second track "Sophisticated Savage" that I spent every night for a week transcribing it. As it turns out it's very challenging to pick apart flutes in close harmony! At least for me. Due to their timbre, they really, really blend into one. My good pal, Cooper, transcribed the bass part and we had a nice performance of it with alto and tenor sax covering the flute parts, electric bass and drum kit.