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The Sacred Idol

Les Baxter

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Album Review

Composed for a film that ultimately went unreleased, Sacred Idol conjures a Latin American fantasia inspired by the legends of Aztec culture and spirituality. While not as otherworldly as some of Les Baxter's subsequent exotica classics, the album's dreamlike fusion of swirling orchestrations and native textures boasts the cinematic vibrancy specific to all of the composer's finest work. As is also typical of Baxter's most memorable efforts, the song titles say virtually everything that needs to be said: "Gardens of the Moon," "Temple of Gold" and "Pyramids of the Sun" are every bit as evocative and mysterious as advertised, so whatever the destination, real or imagined, Baxter's albums are above all a journey to the center of the mind.


Born: 14 March 1922 in Detroit, MI

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s

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,...
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The Sacred Idol, Les Baxter
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