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Adventures In Paradise

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Album Review

Martin Denny and Arthur Lyman live on in the music of the Waitiki 7. The seven-person band specializes in the easy listening fusion made popular by Denny, Lyman, and Gene Rains, who was one of the big three in exotica in the '50s, although he never gained a sizable stateside following. Although two bandmembers — bassist Randy Wong and drummer Abe Lagrimas, Jr. — are Hawaiian, the band actually came together in Boston at the Berklee College of Music. Most of the players have extensive and impressive credentials in the field of Latin music, but they mostly hold back, favoring the faux Latin vibe of the music's forefathers. Jim Benoit's vibes and the piano of Zaccai Curtis carry most of the melodies, providing a lush, easy listening vibe, with Lopaka Colon's work on congas, bongos, and various percussion instruments adding the expected exotic element. Colon, son of Augie Colon of the original Denny band, also provides the birdcalls that accent the tracks. The music mostly stays low-key, although the band does display some impressive chops on occasion. Lee Morgan's "Totem Pole" swings in a jazzy "Peter Gunn" kind of way, while two Denny tunes, "Manila" and "Left Arm of Buddha," preserve the feel of traditional exotica. "Craving," a Curtis original, has the feel of a charanga with nice solos by Tim Mayer's clarinet and Helen Liu's fiddle. Meyer's "Ouanalao" has a rhythm somewhere between samba and zouk, while Wong's "L'Ours Chinois" is a suite that features Liu's swinging fiddle and sounds like Grappelli meeting Ravel in a Hawaiian bar. "Ned's Redemption," a blazing vibraphone improvisation by Benoit, slides into Wong's "Sacha-Cha," a relaxed cha cha marked by Colon's playful percussion. They close with the theme from the TV show Adventures in Paradise, with Benoit's vibes carrying the melody originally played by a schmaltzy Hollywood string section. ~ j. poet, Rovi

Adventures In Paradise, Waitiki 7
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  • $18.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: 18 August 2009

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