Dominic Frontiere and His Orchestra – Pagan Festival: An Exotic Love Ritual For Orchestra (1959)
Together with Yma Sumac’s exquisite records, Russ Garcia’s Fantastica, and the unknown The Markko Pollo Adventures self titled album, our today entry comes with great passion, a personal favorite in the Exotica and Space Age Pop universe. You can check a dossier about the subject here, and with our last entries highlighted on top! We believe that the milestone works from Martin Denny and famous arranger Les Baxter are truly amazing, though due to the high commercial appeal and large number of releases, the musical developments became to dilute throughout the years, climaxing with the death of the genre in the mid–60’s.
Let’s go to our artist:
Dominic Frontiere (17 June 1931, New Haven, Connecticut) grew up in a musical family, learning several instruments before adopting the accordion as his main focus. He proved a prodigy, and was travelling to New York for lessons with accordion virtuoso Joseph Biviano at 7 and performing solo at Carnegie Hall at the age of 12. From an early age, its interest in music went beyond just performing, though, and he studied classical music, arranging, and composition through high school and after!
He joined Horace Heidt’s big band in 1949, replacing accordion star Dick Contino and becoming lead arranger as well. He left Heidt in 1952 and moved to Hollywood, where he studied with Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco at UCLA and with violinist and studio conductor Felix Slatkin. Frontiere was then, taken under the wing of Alfred Newman, music director at 20th Century-Fox studios, and his brother, famous film composer Lionel Newman, who soon had him working on a variety of scoring jobs.
Frontiere experimented several novelties from his studio work, one was an album for Columbia, Pagan Festival, that is now recalled fondly as one of the prime examples of true exotica. One suspects that he ran Yma Sumac’s albums for a few spins while conceiving on the pieces on this work, which feature titles as ‘Jaguar God’, ‘Venus Girl’, with subtitles recalling Mayan or Inca language, as Ixtab, and Tampu-Anca.
Dominic has concentrated on composing for films/television since the early ’60s. His scoring credits include such films as Hang ‘Em High, Incubus, Chisum, The Train Robbers, Brannigan, and The Stunt Man. On television, he composed the theme for the aliens-are-among-us series, The Invaders, science fiction The Outer Limits, and also The Fugitive, The Flying Nun, Branded, Movin’ On, amongst many others.
Along with Art Van Damme and Johnny Hamlin, he ranks among the leading (and only) jazz accordionists, with an active career until the ’90s. Recently many of its soundtracks were available in cd re-releases, where you can check it out here!
Let’s go to our album:
The liner notes on the back cover spoke of the music’s “interpretation of ancient Inca rituals, superstitions, and the romance and mysteries of their colorful civilization“, but the blending of musical styles was not limited to that of the ancient Latin American culture (if anyone knew what that would sound like!). Frontiere let his imagination run wild, and he brought in sounds from the South Pacific to Eastern Europe, e.g.
So, here a female choir wafted in and out along with string sections, brasses, and reeds, creating a patchwork quilt that somehow held together. Frontiere‘s music charmed like an entertaining Hollywood score for a movie set in some faraway place, it may not have been historically accurate, but it was a lot of fun to listen to, jouir!
The ‘IM’ highlights are House of Dawn (Paccari-Tampu) and Venus Girl (IX-Koben).
Lastly, this is an exclusive release, เดินทางที่ดี!
A2 House of Dawn (Paccari-Tampu)
A3 Temple of Suicide (Ixtab)
A4 Moon Goddess (Ixchel)
A5 Time of Sunshine (Yaxkin)
A6 Goddess of Love (X-Tabai)
B1 House of Pleasure (Tampu-Anca)
B2 The Harvest (Zax)
B3 Corn Festival (Zabacil Than)
B4 God of Seasons (Kukulkan)
B5 Jaguar God (Balam)
B6 Venus Girl (IX-Koben)
- Artwork: Irene Trivas
- Composed, Conductor: Dominic Frontiere
Columbia – CL 1273