LES BAXTER

Exotica / Jazz Related Soundtracks • United States
Jazz music community with review and forums
LES BAXTER picture
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 the use of the electronic instrument the theremin, which has a haunting, howling sound.

Baxter studied piano at the Detroit Conservatory and Pepperdine College in Los Angeles. After he completed school, he abandoned the piano and became a vocalist. When he was 23, he joined Mel Tormé's Mel-Tones. The group sang on Artie Shaw records, including the hit "What Is This Thing Called Love."

In 1950, he became an arranger
read more...
Thanks to silent way for the addition and snobb for the updates

LES BAXTER Online Videos

See all LES BAXTER videos

Buy LES BAXTER music

Amazon (logo)
Space EscapadeSpace Escapade
Extra tracks · Remastered
WAX TIME 2018
$18.50
$21.44 (used)
Ritual Of The Savage / TambooRitual Of The Savage / Tamboo
Limited Edition · Remastered
Swingport 2018
$11.88
$12.08 (used)
Showing 2 items | Cache expiring in 37h | Keyword-based search | Best seller rank | More results on Amazon.com

LES BAXTER Discography

LES BAXTER albums / top albums

LES BAXTER Ritual of the Savage album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Ritual of the Savage
Exotica 1951
LES BAXTER The Passions album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
The Passions
Exotica 1954
LES BAXTER Thinking of You album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Thinking of You
Exotica 1954
LES BAXTER Capitol Presents Les Baxter album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Capitol Presents Les Baxter
Exotica 1954
LES BAXTER Kaleidoscope album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Kaleidoscope
Exotica 1955
LES BAXTER Tamboo! album cover 4.48 | 3 ratings
Tamboo!
Exotica 1955
LES BAXTER La Femme album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
La Femme
Exotica 1956
LES BAXTER Caribbean Moonlight album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Caribbean Moonlight
Exotica 1956
LES BAXTER Skins (Bongo Party With Les Baxter) album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Skins (Bongo Party With Les Baxter)
Exotica 1957
LES BAXTER 'Round the World With Les Baxter album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
'Round the World With Les Baxter
Exotica 1957
LES BAXTER Midnight on the Cliffs album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Midnight on the Cliffs
Exotica 1957
LES BAXTER Ports of Pleasure album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Ports of Pleasure
Exotica 1957
LES BAXTER Confetti album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Confetti
Exotica 1958
LES BAXTER Selections From Rogers and Hammerstein's South Pacific album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Selections From Rogers and Hammerstein's South Pacific
Exotica 1958
LES BAXTER Space Escapade album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Space Escapade
Exotica 1958
LES BAXTER African Jazz album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
African Jazz
Exotica 1959
LES BAXTER Jungle Jazz album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Jungle Jazz
Exotica 1959
LES BAXTER Wild Guitars album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Wild Guitars
Exotica 1959
LES BAXTER The Sacred Idol album cover 5.00 | 1 ratings
The Sacred Idol
Exotica 1960
LES BAXTER Teen Drums album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Teen Drums
Exotica 1960
LES BAXTER Young Pops album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Young Pops
Exotica 1960
LES BAXTER Jewels of the Sea album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Jewels of the Sea
Exotica 1961
LES BAXTER Sensational! album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Sensational!
Exotica 1962
LES BAXTER The Primitive And The Passionate album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Primitive And The Passionate
Exotica 1964
LES BAXTER Brazil Now album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Brazil Now
Exotica 1966
LES BAXTER Love Is Blue album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Love Is Blue
Exotica 1968
LES BAXTER Moog Rock album cover 4.05 | 3 ratings
Moog Rock
Exotica 1969
LES BAXTER Hell's Belles album cover 5.00 | 1 ratings
Hell's Belles
Jazz Related Soundtracks 1969
LES BAXTER Que Mango! album cover 2.50 | 1 ratings
Que Mango!
Exotica 1970
LES BAXTER By Popular Request album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
By Popular Request
Exotica 1996

LES BAXTER EPs & splits

LES BAXTER live albums

LES BAXTER demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

LES BAXTER re-issues & compilations

LES BAXTER Baxter's Best album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Baxter's Best
Exotica 1960
LES BAXTER Les Baxter: The Sound of Adventure album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Les Baxter: The Sound of Adventure
Exotica 1969
LES BAXTER The Colors of Brazil / African Blue album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Colors of Brazil / African Blue
Exotica 1991
LES BAXTER The Exotic Moods of Les Baxter album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Exotic Moods of Les Baxter
Exotica 1996
LES BAXTER Tamboo / Skins album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Tamboo / Skins
Exotica 2000
LES BAXTER Primitive and Passionate / Les Baxter Balladeers album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Primitive and Passionate / Les Baxter Balladeers
Exotica 2000
LES BAXTER Sound Sensation Collection album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Sound Sensation Collection
Exotica 2002
LES BAXTER The Academy Award Winners / The Soul of the Drums album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Academy Award Winners / The Soul of the Drums
Exotica 2002
LES BAXTER The Fruit of Dreams album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Fruit of Dreams
Exotica 2005

LES BAXTER singles (0)

LES BAXTER movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

LES BAXTER Reviews

LES BAXTER Moog Rock

Album · 1969 · Exotica
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
js
In the late 60s the old exotica composers of the 50s had one more shot at commercial success with the advent of the new fangled synthesizer and the resultant outpouring of kitschy novelty records featuring this new space age instrument. Although many of these records were no more than trendy fluff, Les Baxter’s “Moog Rock” stands above the pack with songs that deliver more than just exotic cuteness. It is ironic that the word rock would be used in the album title as the music on here is made up of late-romantic period classical melodies backed with a lounge Latin jazz percussion section or trap set. This record may not rock, but it does hit a nice groove at times.

One of the things that sets this record apart from the masses is Baxter’s attention to rhythm. It was typical for novelty synth records to barely have any rhythm section at all, usually just a bare beat mixed low as an almost afterthought. In contrast, many of the tunes on here feature a sophisticated Latin percussion section mixed loud and playing samba flavored beats that really help drive the melodies. Baxter’s choice of melodic material is also nice, focusing on late 19th century Russian and east European composers who wrote during a time when dramatic melody was king. These composers were masters of the long line melody that went through many interesting and bold harmonic developments before reaching the end of its phrase. Such lush melodies and constantly modulating harmonies are like gold for the creative exotic arranger. On tunes like “Rachmaninoff 2nd Piano Concerto” and “Chopin Prelude in E”, the dramatic melodies combine with the driving percussion to produce masterpieces of the exotic genre. Another top cut is a fast paced reading of “Claire de Lune” that doesn’t just play the main melody but instead plays much of Debussy’s entire arrangement with Baxter paying tribute to electronic music’s past by using a classic theramin type sound on the Moog.

LES BAXTER Que Mango!

Album · 1970 · Exotica
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
js
Is 101 strings one too many or one hundred too many? The answer to that question may come later, meanwhile, this album, ‘Que Mango’ (what mango?) brings together two giants of the easy listening music industry; 101 Strings and Les Baxter. To borrow a phrase from The Simpsons, this is like when white met bread. Along with scores of elevator albums, both of these artists are also known to dabble in that avant-garde world for the easy listening crowd known as Exotica. In fact, Baxter could be considered a leader in that field, but the Strings are not always lightweights either as they released one of the most notoriously psychedelic lounge albums of all-time, the infamous ‘Astro Sounds from Beyond the Year 2000‘. So the question for you the potential buyer is this, is this album generic easy listening or is it one of those cool bachelor pad exotica albums? The answer is that it is a little bit of both.

Some tunes on here are pure exotica such as ‘Tropicando’ with its modal flute melodies, latin percussion, harp swirls and electric guitar vamps. Other similar tunes such as ‘Affair in Arruba’ and ‘Soolamin’ use very subtle electric guitar and slightly more rhythmic riffs than your standard ez listening affair. Elsewhere on this album there is a flavor of Latin rhythm, but overall the orchestrations and approach are a little closer to the sort of elevator music that 101 Strings have cranked out about 1001 times before. That leads us back to the original question about the number of strings on here. I realize that having 101 strings is the main gimmick of this group, but as a longtime follower of interesting instrumental remakes of pop songs, I have always found that the 101 Strings’ sound is kind of heavy-handed and overly thick in texture, too much of a good thing can be too much.

This isn’t a bad album, its not one of those rush to production filler albums that both of these artists are known to release, but despite the enticing album cover, this isn’t one of those collectable exotica records either. This album would make a good purchase for the exotica completeist and Baxter fan who might want to get the handful of good exotica tunes that are on here.

LES BAXTER Tamboo!

Album · 1955 · Exotica
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
js
Those who think exotica records are just tiki silliness and kitsch should definitely give Les Baxter’s Tamboo a serious listen. Despite the cheezy and ignorantly semi-racist cover art work, there is some serious music going on here. Baxter was an extremely prolific composer and record producer who worked in the fields of easy listening and soundtracks, as well as different varieties of what has come to be called ‘exotica’. Over the years, as the exotica style became a gimmick, Les let his artistry slip, but this is one of Baxter’s early exotica attempts and on this one he is earnest and sincere about mixing different musical genres into a fascinating new style of his own.

The whole idea of melding musical styles to create a sort of fantasy world of sound begins with Les Baxter. Before there was Sun Ra, King Crimson, Herbie’s Sextet, Brian Eno or Bill Laswell there was Les Baxter mixing Afro-Cuban rhythms, Debussy’s orchestrations and modern studio trickery to create musical lands that didn’t really exist. Sun Ra himself stated his admiration for Baxter, an admiration I had always assumed after hearing Sun Ra’s very exotica flavored ‘Angels and Demons at Play’ LP.

Saying that there is something other-worldly or futuristic about this music may seem cliché since it is obvious that is what Baxter is going for, but when those wordless vocals quietly cascade over a syncopated Afro-Latin groove accompanied by first dew in the morning twinkly Debussy type orchestrations, you know you have arrived somewhere very different then the places you have known before, a place that is very moving and beautiful too.

LES BAXTER Movies Reviews

No LES BAXTER movie reviews posted yet.

LES BAXTER Shouts

Please login to post a shout
No shouts posted yet. Be the first member to do so above!

JMA TOP 5 Jazz ALBUMS

Rating by members, ranked by custom algorithm
Albums with 30 ratings and more
Kind of Blue Cool Jazz
MILES DAVIS
Buy this album from our partners
A Love Supreme Post Bop
JOHN COLTRANE
Buy this album from our partners
The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady Progressive Big Band
CHARLES MINGUS
Buy this album from our partners
My Favorite Things Hard Bop
JOHN COLTRANE
Buy this album from our partners

New Jazz Artists

New Jazz Releases

Tie Me To You Pop/Art Song/Folk
KATHLEEN GRACE
Buy this album from MMA partners
Stand Up! RnB
WHITNEY SHAY
Buy this album from MMA partners
I Never Saw Another Butterfly Pop/Art Song/Folk
DANA SANDLER
Buy this album from MMA partners
Paul Lytton, Nate Wooley : Known-Unknown Jazz Related Improv/Composition
PAUL LYTTON
Buy this album from MMA partners
More new releases

New Jazz Online Videos

Keep Walking
SHAKE STEW
js· 12 hours ago
Booger Bear
CHARLES (C.I.) WILLIAMS
js· 12 hours ago
Stand Up!
WHITNEY SHAY
js· 1 day ago
More videos

New JMA Jazz Forum Topics

More in the forums

New Site interactions

More...

Latest Jazz News

members-submitted

More in the forums

Social Media

Follow us