KAI WINDING — Soul Surfin (aka !!! More !!! (Theme From Mondo Cane)) (review)

KAI WINDING — Soul Surfin (aka !!! More !!! (Theme From Mondo Cane)) album cover Album · 1963 · Exotica Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
Kai Winding was one of the best be-bop trombonists of the 1940s and 50s, playing with top notch bands like Benny Goodman and Stan Kenton, and cutting some highly acclaimed trombone duets with J.J. Johnson. Flash forward to the late 50s and bop wasn’t paying the bills anymore so Kai started turning more to pop offerings to make ends meet. In 1963 Kai released “Soul Surfin”, a fairly successful pop/rock-n-roll record that spawned a major hit with “More” from the movie “Mondo Cane”. You could call this a ‘rock’ record, but its orchestrated rock, more in line with pop big bands like Quincy Jones and Henry Mancicni, not the harder street sounds of Link Wray or Dick Dale. Needless to say, to modern ears this is not so much a rock record as it fits much more with what has been dubbed exotica or lounge music. It’s the sound of the swingin 60s in a suburbia styleee. The album title implies that Kai is mixing surf music and soul jazz on here, and that’s partially true, but that blend is somewhat filtered through an orchestrated easy listening format. Some of the tunes rock, but its not a teenager’s rock, instead, its rock for the double martini business lunch crowd and Las Vegas lounge sharks.

Kai is not the only big jazz star on here, the great Kenny Burrell is also on hand supplying all the requisite surf guitar licks and doing his best to channel Duane Eddy, and maybe its no big surprise that Kenny is great at this sort of thing. One of the biggest pluses on here is the production, the early 60s was the glory days of “hi-fidelity”, and this album still sounds great. Just the right amount of reverb makes everything sound massive, especially the trombone section. The best cuts on here include the one’s where they get creative with the orchestrations, sometimes adding a Ondoline to the mix. The Ondoline, much like the Ondes Martenot, is a French pre-synthesizer keyboard that sounds a bit like a theremin. Exotica collectors will want to check out, “China Nights”, “Surf Bird”, “Spinner” and “Hearse Ride”, all of which include creative orchestrations. The downside of this album are some songs that have been recorded way too many times, including; “Pipeline”, “Sukiyaki” and “More”. As is typical with these albums, the one ‘almost jazz’ cut comes at the end when they play a somewhat surf version of Herbie Mann’s “Comin Home Baby”, with short solos for both Kai and Kenny. Jazz fans and admirers of Winding’s bop skills will want to stay clear of this record, but the fans of the space-age bachelor pad vibe will find a lot to like on “Soul Surfin”.
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