Thursday, April 3, 2008

Les Baxter-Kaleidoscope (1955)

This was an LP that my parents bought to play at parties, and I loved it since I was very young. Instead of being a concept album it is mostly a very mixed bag with a wide range of styles. The biggest treats on this album are Tropicana, Blue Tango, Julie and Atlantis. Tropicana was the song that really turned me on to this album and Les Baxter as an artist. It displays most of Baxter's best talents in a very quick and concise number. Plus the percussion and arrangement show more reckless abandon than most other songs from around 1955. Not to say that the song is sloppy though, it is very tight and precise. But the tom toms and timbales duke it out now and then as if in a boxing match against each other. The dynamics also make the piece seem ferocious at times, sometimes getting louder to really punctuate the ending of a phrase. I can't say enough good things about the song, so I'll leave any further observations up to the listener. Blue Tango is one of his better known pieces and it speaks for itself. Atlantis features really strong lively hand percussion that contrasts beautifully with an exotic flute passage. I didn't expect to share lounge music on my blog, but I noticed that this LP and the song Tropicana are very difficult to find on the internet, so here's my copy. Unfortunately this is the same exact copy that I have been playing since around age 7, so some of the quieter songs suffer from scratches and static. If someone out there has a cleaner copy let me know, I would love to have a copy, until then enjoy this one. I just noticed another vinyl version at a lower bit-rate is available from Thrift Shop DJ .

Download vinyl album (VBR LAME)

UPDATE- I just realized that I owned 5 of these songs on CD so I now made a Hybrid version incorporating my old vinyl with the CD masters, so 5 songs are now from a digital master. If someone has Tropicana from a digital master, I'd love to get a copy.

Download digital/vinyl hybrid (VBR LAME)

URDATE - I made one final version that adds a bit of reverb to the tracks to compensate for noise reduction that was used.

Download Reverb Version


rich sims said...

Here's a site that's got Baxter's Kaleidoscope:

Steve Engler said...

Thanks for the info Rich, but that's still a vinyl copy, certainly decent though.