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Album Review

Dance instructor Arthur Murray endorsed a six-album series on Capitol in 1960, performed by different orchestras and leaders and devoted to specific dances. Les Baxter handled the tangos volume, while other albums in the series dealt with waltzes, rhumbas, fox trots, and the like. The albums are not instructional — they contain mostly instrumental performances of music considered ideal for the specified dances. Baxter, with his history of interpreting music from around the world, was charged with creating the tangos album and is at ease directing his orchestra through numbers like "La Cumparsita" and "El Choclo." A vocal chorus appears in places, usually in a supporting role, but takes the lead on "The Moon Was Yellow." The Arthur Murray connection may scare away potential listeners who assume that the album is instructional or strictly utilitarian, but it is a full-fledged Les Baxter album that he took audible care to craft.


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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Arthur Murray's Favarites - Modern Waltzes, Les Baxter
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