LEO DIAMOND

Exotica • United States
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Leo Diamond was the chief harmonica soloist, or virtuoso, recording in the "high-fidelity" LP era. Formerly a flute and piccolo player, he won a contest playing harmonica with Edwin Franko Goldman's band in New York City's Central Park. This led to 18 years with Borrah Minevitch's Harmonica Rascals, after which he formed his own trio, the Harmonaires. This led him to Hollywood, where he appeared in Coney Island, As Thousands Cheer, Seven Days Leave, and Sweet Rosie O'Grady. His harmonica soundtracks include Calamity Jane, Eddie Cantor Story, Living It Up, and Miss Sadie Thompson.

In 1956, Diamond and conductor Murray Kellner recorded the quintessential harmonica opus, Skin Diver Suite. While Side Two is standard fare, "The Skin Divers" is Diamond's side-long orchestral conception complete with watery sound effects. This was the first of attempt in a career of albums designed to elevate the harmonica from hobo's plaything to refined solo instrument.
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LEO DIAMOND Discography

LEO DIAMOND albums / top albums

LEO DIAMOND Harmonica Magic Of Leo Diamond album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Harmonica Magic Of Leo Diamond
Exotica 1955
LEO DIAMOND Skin Diver Suite album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Skin Diver Suite
Exotica 1956
LEO DIAMOND Snuggled on Your Shoulder album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Snuggled on Your Shoulder
Exotica 1957
LEO DIAMOND Hi-Fi Harmonica album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Hi-Fi Harmonica
Exotica 1958
LEO DIAMOND Exciting Sounds from Romantic Places album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Exciting Sounds from Romantic Places
Exotica 1959
LEO DIAMOND Subliminal Sounds album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Subliminal Sounds
Exotica 1960
LEO DIAMOND Off Shore (aka Ebb Tide) album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Off Shore (aka Ebb Tide)
Exotica 1961
LEO DIAMOND Exciting Sounds of the South Seas album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Exciting Sounds of the South Seas
Exotica 1964

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LEO DIAMOND Reviews

LEO DIAMOND Subliminal Sounds

Album · 1960 · Exotica
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
js
Anyone interested in bizarre music needs to know about Leo Diamond’s “Subliminal Sounds”, there is no other record like this weird mix of incongruous elements. Leo Diamond was a virtuoso on an unlikely instrument, the harmonica. Despite his choice of ‘axxe’, Diamond made a good living as one of the top harmonica players of his day. He also worked in writing and arranging and had a huge easy listening hit with “Off Shore”. Diamond’s taste in music leaned towards banal, and even tacky pop, but this was leavened by an unlikely interest in expanded musical forms and studio electronics. In 1956 he released “Skin Diver Suite”, a bizarre third stream concoction that alternated between extreme Hollywood schmaltz and creepy ‘watery’ sound effects. At times overly sentimental, and at other times just plain disturbing, this one needs to be heard to be believed.

After “Skin Diver Suite”, Diamond released a few pop albums and then came the album in question here, “Subliminal Sounds”. The title already sounds creepy and Diamond doesn’t disappoint as he presents twelve mostly corny arrangements of pop standards that are cloaked in ‘subliminal’ electronic sound effects. For the first couple of minutes, this album is absolutely fascinating as you hear Diamond’s weird and subtle effects, but then you realize many of these tunes are almost unbearable, thus the Diamond dichotomy. Easily the tunes on here that work the best are the one’s that lean in a more exotica direction, that would include “Jungle Drums”, “Dream Train” and “House of Dreams”, meanwhile some of the more sentimental fare gets tiresome right quick.

Despite a couple of really good exotica tracks, this album doesn’t seem to get a lot of attention from the weird music collectors, that’s why you can still find it for cheap occasionally at thrift stores. People who appreciate David Lynch’s idea of wholesome ‘normalcy’ gone berserk may also appreciate Leo’s musical vision.

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