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Many Moods of Arthur Lyman

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Album Review

Exotica instrumentalist extraordinaire Arthur Lyman (vibraphone/marimba) is joined by John Kramer (bass/flute/guitar), Alan Soares (keyboards), and Harold Chang (percussion) for this package filled with international sounds, updates of a wide selection of show tunes from the Broadway stage as well as the silver screen. Getting the project underway is Lyman's unhurried and midtempo arrangement of the suitably Mediterranean-flavored "Sicilian Holiday." The assembled combo demonstrate their sonic dynamics as they underscore with their own tropical touch. Particularly inspired is Chang's front-and-center scritchy-scratchy guiro percussion. Taking a page from Les Baxter's songbook, "Jungle Flower" is an interpretation of Baxter's mesmeric "Ritual of the Savage." Lyman and Soares provide some outstanding interplay that balances atop the rich moody ambience. Going deeper into the tropics, "Anna" — from the 1951 motion picture of the same name — is a definite upgrade to the Three Suns earlier version. It's bouncy and catchy persona likewise made it a natural for other purveyors of exotica, including Esquivel and Lyman's former bandleader, Martin Denny. "Babalu" became a phenom thanks to exposure via Desi Arnaz's bigger than life reading of the Cuban classic. However, its roots go considerably deeper — as exemplified by Lyman and company's emphatic take. The lovely and languid "Something Wonderful" is the first of two LP sides dedicated to material from Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein's The King and I (1956). The tender and romantic ballad is then directly followed by the stately "March of the Siamese Children," notable for Kramer's ethereal woodwind interjections that infuse the somewhat strident, but unquestionably catchy melody. A second substantial movie theme to be featured on the Many Moods of Arthur Lyman (1962) comes from the historic biopic El Cid (1961). Props go to Chang's faultless percussive skills as he drives the rhythm over top of the remaining ensemble's insightful, but comparatively muted participation. Back on the islands, the simple and beguiling "Pua Maiole" is an Hawaiian ode that stands as an excellent sampling of the musicians at their most refined. A surprisingly successful entry is the stylish upbeat rendering of "America" — the Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim classic from West Side Story (1961) . Another treat with a distinctive Hawaiian lineage is the tender elucidation of "Ka Anoi." Its sophisticated and yet simple treatment will inevitably be familiar to enthusiasts of tropical music. Similarly, "Londonderry Air" is Lyman's slow and lethargic derivation of the traditional folk staple "Danny Boy." Concluding the effort is the winsome "Planting Rice," which became a favorite of the Ink Spots and was penned by longtime member Charlie Fuqua. In 2008, as part of their reassessment of Arthur Lyman's copious Hi-Fi Records catalog, Collectors' Choice Music coupled Many Moods Of... with the Love for Sale (1963) LP onto a single CD. The reissue marks the first time either platter has been available for several decades.


Born: 02 February 1932 in Kauai, HI

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

As the vibraphonist for Martin Denny's group, Lyman was instrumental in crafting the sound of exotica. Lyman didn't stay with Denny for long, however, leaving the ensemble in 1957 to start a solo career that was nearly as successful as Denny's. To no one's surprise, Lyman's albums sounded very much like Denny's, with even more of a somnambulant feel. Much of the public wanted to relax, though, and they sent his debut, "Taboo," to number six in the album charts in 1958. In addition to playing vibes...
Full Bio
Many Moods of Arthur Lyman, Arthur Lyman
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  • $17.99
  • Genres: Easy Listening, Music, Lounge, Vocal
  • Released: 1962

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