The Markko Polo Adventurers ‎– Orienta (1959)

We’ve already got a little good share of Exotica here in the ‘IM’, you can easily go for Yma, Russ, and Dominic for your exquisite delight! But I think we should talk a little bit more about it since its one of my fav genres, always with some magical cover and a fantastic vibe from faraway, today’s album is no different so let’s get a ticket to the (wild) East.

Let’s go to our history:

Exotica is a form of easy-listening lounge music that draws upon world music, but it doesn’t aim for authentic replication. Instead, exotica’s primary concern is lightweight entertainment, gathering readily identifiable ethnic sounds into a smooth, easily digested pop form. The music typically conjures up images of exotic foreign tourist destinations geared toward white Americans, and in that sense, it’s sort of the equivalent of a pre-packaged resort vacation: fun, inauthentic, and safely familiar. (!)

1958 Fire Goddess

Exotica is usually arranged for standard orchestras, with instrumentation added according to the location being evoked (ethnic percussion, string instruments, etc.); some exotica also borrows the otherworldly sound effects that define the space-age pop style. The Pacific, the Caribbean, Latin America, Brazil, and Africa are among exotica’s most popular regional musical sources, major exotica artists include Les Baxter, Martin Denny, Arthur Lyman, Eden Ahbez, Gene Rains, Esquivel, Yma Sumac and many more.

Let’s go to our artist:

Orienta was the work of three music industry professionals with a history of involvement in exotica and easy listening music. Producer Simon Rady was coming off the huge success of The Music from Peter Gunn, which spent 10 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s album chart, and won the inaugural Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1959. Associate producer Michael H. Goldsen was one of the industry leaders in popularizing Hawaiian music and was later inducted into the (legendary) Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame.

Debra Paget in Fritz Lang’s The Indian Tomb

The album was arranged and conducted by Gerald Fried, a Juilliard School-trained oboist who later went on to fame as a composer of music for motion pictures and television, including the 1960s series Star TrekThe Man from U.N.C.L.E., and Gilligan’s Island.

Orienta was an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of exotica music in the late 1950s. The genre’s popularity peaked in 1959 as Martin Denny’s 1957 album Exotica spent five weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s album chart. The album was recorded in stereo and was designed to appeal to the growing popularity of albums demonstrating the new technology. It features a wide assortment of woodwind and rhythm instruments as the liner notes describe a recording studio filled with as many as 25 percussion instruments.

Sandy Warner, 1959

Let’s go to our album:

The album’s liner notes stated that:

”The music resembles the dreams of an imaginative person who has fallen asleep during a ‘Dr. Fu Manchu’ movie on television, with vignettes that combine the sounds of the East with the wit of the West; the charm of the Orient with the humor of the Occident.”

A lost lounge gem from the RCA catalog, with a dreamy exotica feeling, Gerald Fried arranged and conducted this faux (studio) group, and his overall approach has lots of sweeping woodwinds and percussion, similar to the great Les Baxter work on Capitol during the period. The tracks have a pronounced Eastern feel including original compositions and adaptations from Rimsky-Korsakov, Harry Warren, and Vernon Duke.

The ‘IM’ highlights are Rain in Rangoon and Mountain High, Valley Low.

Tracks Include:

A1 Song Of India-Beggars’ Procession
Arranged By: Gerald Fried
Composed By: Rimsky-Korsakoff

A2 Yokahama Ferryboat
Composed By: Leon Pober

A3 Rain In Rangoon
Composed By: Vèrnon Duke

A4 Madam Sloe Gin’s
Composed By: Leon Pober

A5 The Girl Friend Of A Whirling Dervish
Composed By – Dubin, Warren, Mercer

A6 Mountain High, Valley Low
Composed By: Bernard Hanighen, Raymond Scott

B1 Scheherazade
Arranged By: Gerald Fried
Composed By: Rimsky-Korsakoff

B2 Limehouse Blues
Composed By: D. Furber, P. Braham

B3 Night Of The Tiger
Composed By: Leon Pober

B4 Nagasaki
Composed By: H. Warren, M. Dixon

B5 Train To Ranchipur
Composed By: Gerald Fried

B6 Runaway Rickshaw
Composed By: Leon Pober

Credits

Arranged By: Gerald Fried
Conductor: Gerald Fried
Co-producer (Associate): Michael H. Goldsen
Producer: Simon Rady
Recorded By (Engineer): Thorne Nogar

Notes

Recorded in Hollywood, California, May 15, 21 and 31 and June 6, 1958

Gerald Fried, Alive and Kicking

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