Instrumental Sounds Somewhat from the Orient

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, November 30, 2019 06:50pm | Post a Comment

By Kai Wada Roath
Ambassador of Confusion Hill and host of the Super Shangri-La Show

In these modern times where audience snapping is the new clapping, where it is normal to have your cat get a reiki healing for depression, and where "Oriental" has been replaced by "Soy Sauce" flavor on Top Ramen packages, I offer you a non-controversial read about instrumental music somewhat from the Orient.

When one closes their eyes and thinks of the word "Orient," they may dream of a bustling Persian Martin Denny's Hypnotiquemarketplace with spice traders and fakirs gathering crowds, a Shambala-ish temple garden with mewing peacocks, or perhaps a rickshaw ride through a mysterious dark alley in old Hong Kong. But when you open your eyes and see the "Orient," it is usually on a party supply catalog full of plastic junk for Saint Patrick's Day, a fancy-pants hotel in Waikiki that you cannot afford to stay in but maybe steal some beach towels from, or perhaps even that amazing Vladimir Tretchikoff painting (as shown above) that your friend scored at a thrift store in Fresno that's still sitting in the trunk of their rusty Valiant. When it comes to music "from" the Orient, you may drift to thoughts of such exotica tunes as Tak Shindo's "Port of Trinkitat" or Martin Denny's "Hypnotique." I hope to open some new doors for you.

I encourage you to sleuth out American composer Carmen Dragon and his 1963 album Orientale (which, anytime I see for five bucks or less, I must buy as a present for a friend), as it will truly take your mind to mythical mystic mountain palaces of long ago. I mean, that is the beauty of most instrumental music right? It's like rocket fuel for daydreaming.

From the majestic land of the Incas, the psychedelic cumbia music of Los Destellos from Peru will just blow the caps right off your toothpaste tubes. Let your audio receivers on the sides of your noggin soak in this "Oriental passion" and just try not to dance in your kitchen with your yellow Foley spatula.

Follow that up with Yusef Lateef's "Eastern Market" and you have started a party. But it's Blues for the Yusef LateefOrient on his Eastern Sounds album that makes me want to drive in the rain with a cup of coffee to the old California town of Locke in the Delta and visit the Dai Loy Gambling House Museum (and then naturally get a steak at Al the Wop's). The whole Eastern Sounds album is superb and in the similar realm as his albums The Golden Flute and The Centaur and the Phoenix.

Much like how Elisabeth Waldo would create new compositions with South and Meso-American instruments and melodies, American composer Lloyd Miller would create unique jazz pieces with instruments from the Middle East. His 1960’s album Oriental Jazz is a complete masterpiece. Swoop up a copy of any re-release you see if your Great Aunt Nora did not already leave you an original in her last will.

And hey...if you ever come across this Hank Mardigian Sextet album, you just gotta get it. Warm up some medjool dates with some olive oil, sea salt, and a squeze of lemon in the oven, pour some arak on some ice-cubes, toss this record on the player, and get ready for a night of romance...but will you be so lucky to get to the seventh veil?

Hank Mardigian Sextet

Relevant Tags

Lloyd Miller (1), Elisabeth Waldo (1), Locke (1), Yusef Lateef (5), Los Destellos (1), Carmen Dragon (1), Martin Denny (7), Tak Shindo (3), Vladimir Tretchikoff (1), Orientalism (1), World Music (147), Kai Wada Roath (41), Hank Mardigian (1)