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The Summer Moods of Les Baxter

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Album Review

Over the course of two compact discs, The Exotic Moods of Les Baxter collects most of Baxter's biggest hits, plus a selection of rare and previously unreleased material. For casual fans, the collection is fine, if a little long — two discs is a lot of Baxter for listeners with a passing interest in exotica. For the more dedicated easy listening/exotica collector, this compilation is useful, if a little frustrating, since much of this material is available on other collections. Still, this gives a good overview of the scope and variety of his music and it emphasizes his wilder, unpredictable side more effectively than Baxter's Best.


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, Martin Denny, and their imitators. Baxter also pioneered...
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