Russ Garcia & His Orchestra – Fantastica (1958)

capa cópiaAs we previously approached on Yma Sumac’s first entry, on the very birth of the genre knows as Exotica, today we’ll recap that and add a new genre: space-age pop!

Space-age pop is a music genre associated with Mexican and American composers and songwriters in the Space Age of the ’50s and ’60s. It is also called bachelor pad music or lounge music. It was inspired by the spirit of those times, an optimism based on the strong post-war economy, technology boom, and excitement about humanity’s early forays into space. Although there is no specific album, date, or year when the genre was born, producer Irwin Chusid identifies its heyday as roughly 1954 to 1963, from the dawn of high-fidelity (hi-fi) to the arrival of the Beatles.

Space Escapade, 1958
Space Escapade, 1958

There are several styles that can be recognized as an influence: classical composers like Ravel, Debussy or Stravinsky; the big bands of the ’40s; and different exotic styles, such as Samba, Latin, and Calypso Jazz. It is also related to Exotica and lounge music and may be regarded as a precursor to space music. (!)

Populated with the outcasts from other well-established genres, Space Age Pop is full of brilliant, bizarre, and exciting sounds, which are particularly striking to ears accustomed to the stereotypes that populate the more familiar genres.

Juan García Esquivel
Juan García Esquivel

Let’s go back to Exotica:

The strictest definition limits exotica to the imitations of Polynesian, Afro-Caribbean, and Hawaiian music that were produced by Les Baxter and others from the mid-1950s to the very early ’60s. There were two primary strains of this kind of exotica: Jungle and Tiki. The jungle was definitely a Hollywood creation, with its roots in Tarzan movies or W.H. Hudson’s novel, Green Mansions. Les Baxter was the king of jungle exotica and spawned a host of imitators while opening the doors for a few more genuine articles such as Chaino, Thurston Knudson, and Guy Warren.

Ritual of the Savage, 1951
Ritual of the Savage, 1951

Tiki was introduced with Martin Denny’s Waikiki nightclub combo cum jungle noises cover of Baxter’s ‘Quiet Village’, although Denny’s vibe player, Arthur Lyman, soon became the style’s most representative artist. Tiki rode a wave of popularity in the late ’50s and early ’60s marked by the entrance of Hawaii as the 50th state in 1959 and the introduction of Tiki hut cocktail bars and restaurants around the United States!

Martin Denny's Group
Martin Denny’s Group

Let’s go to our artist:

Russel Garcia (12 April, 1916 – 19 November, 2011) attended at San Francisco State University and then studied composition (with Castelnuovo-Tedesco) before going to work as a professional arranger and composer. He worked with Horace Heidt and Al Donahue before settling in LA to work with a theatre orchestra. He then moved to studio work, first NBC radio and later with Warner Brothers, Disney, and others.

He freelanced around labels, working with singers such as Anita O’Day and Frances Faye as well as several mainstream jazz artists. He also wrote scores for films such as ‘The Time Machine’ and ‘Atlantis’ and contributed music to the television series ‘Rawhide’ and ‘The Virginian’. In the mid-’60s, he wrote several original works for Stan Kenton’s ‘Neophonic’ orchestra. He also published a book on arranging and orchestration that’s still considered a primary text. (!)

Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald & Russ Garcia
Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald & Russ Garcia (Porgy & Bess)

Let’s go to our album:

Fantastica remains the gold standard by which all outer space exotica records are judged, composed and conducted by Russ Garcia, the album is a marvel of sound and structure, brilliantly evoking the music of the cosmos via revolutionary studio techniques, cinematic arrangements, and innovative electronic elements!

Created in tandem with Liberty Records‘ chief engineer, Ted Keep, Fantastica bears little resemblance to conventional earthly music: alongside traditional instruments like woodwinds, harp, and percussion is a series of electronic devices and effects, including a sine wave generator that creates treble and bass tones of almost inhuman extremes. Conjuring horrific images of alien attack (The Monsters of Jupiter), natural disaster (Nova), and chilling isolation (The Lost Souls of Saturn) that articulate the collective unconsciousness of humankind, a true masterpiece!

The Maestro
The Maestro

The ‘IM’ Highlights are Venus and Frozen Neptune. (this is an exclusive rip)

Summing up, this is my Top 3 of the whole genre, an atemporal Lp, nothing appealing or stereotypical as some mentioned during our entry, startle yourself!

Приятно пътуване!

Tracks Include:

A1 Into Space

A2 Nova (Exploding Star)

A3 Lost Souls of Saturn

A4 Monsters of Jupiter

A5 Water Creatures of Astra

A6 Venus

B1 Red Sand of Mars

B2 Goofy People of Phobos

B3 Volcanoes of Mercury

B4 Birth of a Planet

B5 Frozen Neptune

B6 Moon Rise

Credits

  • Arranged, Composed: Russ Garcia
  • Artwork (Cover Design): Garrett-Howard
  • Effects, Electronics, Engineer: Ted Keep
  • Producer: Simon Jackson

Notes

Spectra-Sonic-Sound the ultimate in transistorized stereophonic hi-fidelity sound.

Liberty ‎– LST 7001

Jane Fonda’s Barbarella

Bebi Dol – Mustafa Single (1981)

capa cópiaSerbian culture refers to the culture of Serbia and ethnic Serbs. For centuries straddling the boundaries between East and West, Serbia had been divided among the Eastern and Western halves of the Roman Empire; then between the Kingdom of Hungary, the Frankish Kingdom and Byzantium; and then between the Ottoman Empire and the Habsburg Empire, as well the Republic of Venice in the south. (!)

These overlapping influences have resulted in cultural varieties throughout Serbia: its north leans to the profile of Central Europe, while the south is characteristic of the wider Balkans and even the Mediterranean. Serbs were initially governing the Byzantine frontiers and were later through their sworn alliance gave independence, baptized by Greek missionaries and adopted the Cyrillic script.

Migration of the Serbs, 1896 (Paja Jovanovic)
Migration of the Serbs, 1896 (Paja Jovanovic)

The Byzantine influence on Serbia was profound, firstly through the introduction of Eastern Christianity (Orthodoxy) in the Early Middle Ages. The Serbian Orthodox Church has had an enduring status with the many Serbian monasteries constituting the most valuable cultural monuments left from Serbia in the Middle Ages.

Following Serbia‘s autonomy after the Serbian revolution and eventual independence, the culture of Serbia was restrengthened within its people!

Studenica Monastery
Studenica Monastery

Let’s go to our artist:

Born as Dragana Šarić on 2nd October 1962, Belgrade. Singer and composer Šarić had contact with music since her early years, as her father, Milenko Šarić, was a jazz musician. She started in the late ’70s in the band Tarkus, in 1979 her first studio recordings: as a guest (backing) vocalist on the Igra Staklenih Perli album Vrt VetlostiYU Grupa album Samo Napred..! and also KIM Band’s 1981 release.

In 1981, with the guitarist Goran Vejvoda and the bass guitarist Ivan Vdović, she formed the short-lasting band Annoda Rouge. Soon after, Šarić under the (worldwide known) name Bebi Dol, released her (brilliant) solo debut, Oriental music-inspired single ‘Mustafa’, which she composed together with Saša Habić.

1981
1981

The song featured the recording of Slobodan Konjović‘s voice, he was at the time, Studio B musical editor, and participated the whole production. Mustafa was voted the best pop song in Yugoslavia in 1981 and was re-released, two years later, on her debut album, Ruže I Krv, to great critical acclaim and popular success!

Her next album, Ritam Srca, was released more than a decade later, in 1995, even though she regularly performed as a pop and jazz singer (for three years she lived in Cairo, singing in Sheraton hotels), recording and appearing as a guest artist on the albums of other artists. The second pause in her work came in the late ’90s and her album, Ljuta Sam, was released only in 2002 (with electronic tinges).

Early Promo
Early Promo

Her last releases, Čovek Rado Izvan Sebe Živi, in 2006 and Veče U Pozorištu in 2007, were mainly based on American covers, the last a live album. She also made a famous presentation on Eurovision 1991, with one of its mega-hits, Brazil.

Let’s go to our album:

An excellent vocalist gifted with a soaring voice, ultra-eccentric musical talent and altogether this young lady comes in some adorable, nutty package that we had not seen before or since. Here she was catapulted into the national scene, if not exactly to the stars because this single was way too underground for the mainstream audience.

Mustafa sounds one of those rare songs that simply stand the test of time and it has an original message to the protagonist: forget all those European ladies with flower pots on their heads, who make love shamelessly (!). Na Planeti Uzdaha is her own take on famous Edvard Grieg piece where the chorus of vailing and out-of-this-world voices (multi-recorded Bebi Dol herself) sing her atmospheric siren song!

Bebi Dol, Lately
Bebi Dol, Lately

Thanks to our friends from Jugo Rock Fever and many others through the net, we’re able to discover and admire this fabulous music scene developed since communist times. Here are some fine acts, from the 70’sSmak, YU Grupa, Galija and Korni Grupa (hard and prog). And incredible acts from the ’80sIdoli, Šarlo Akrobata, Električni Orgazam and Disciplina Kičme (new wave and synth-pop).

I cannot stop listening to this obscure little gem, Bebi Doll’s performance is quite something, all abroad the Trans-European rail network and Бон Воиаге!

Tracks Include:

A Mustafa

B Na Planeti Uzdaha

Credits

Arranged: A. Habić

Music, Lyrics: D. Šarić

Companies

Printed: GIP ‘Beograd’

PGP RTB ‎– 1120999

Danube, Belgrade
Danube, Belgrade

Grupo Vocal Argentino – Chango Farías Gómez Presenta (1974)

chango farias cópia

Hola Amigos! Today is a special day, after a tour de force by the Middle East, let’s return to Latin America, our motherland and celebrate the memory, talent, and passion from one of the greatest Argentinian musicians: Chango Farías Gomez!

Characterized by his pioneering and innovative spirit in the way of interpreting the folk music roots and especially for being one of the first musicians who introduced polyphony in the Argentine and Latin American folklore. As we have done in other entries, his complete biography and interviews will be shown in future posts, as we intend to deliver MPA (Musicos Populares Argentinos) and La Manija soon.

Sadly, he died on August 24, 2011, following a cardiac arrest. (RIP)

Today we will focus on Argentinian Folklore!

Let’s go to our history:

La Chacarera
La Chacarera

The word folklore was created by the English archaeologist William John Thomas on August 22, 1846, etymologically derived from ‘folk’ (people, breed) and ‘lore’ (knowledge, science). The date coincides, in Argentina, with the birth of Juan Bautista Ambrosetti (1865-1917), recognized as the father of folk science.

Argentinian folk music has a century-long history which has its roots in the original indigenous cultures. Three major historical and cultural events were molding it: Spanish Colonization (XVI-XVIII centuries), European Immigration (1850-1930), and lastly, but no less important the Internal Migration (1930-1980).

El Pericón
El Pericón

Although folklore is just a cultural expression that meets the requirements of being anonymous, popular and traditional, in Argentina folklore or folk music it’s an author known music, inspired by rhythms and distinctive styles of provincial cultures, mostly indigenous and Afro-Hispanic colonial roots.

The projection folk music began to gain popularity in the 30’s and 40’s, coinciding with a large wave of internal migration from the countryside to the city and the provinces to Buenos Aires, to settle in the 50’s, with the boom of folklore, as the main genre of popular music alongside with the Tango!

Tango, La Boca
Tango, La Boca

In the 60’s and 70’s the popularity of Argentine folklore expanded and linked to similar expressions in Latin America, with the help of various musical and lyrical movements of renewal, as the emergence of the genre in major festivals, including the Festival Nacional de Folclore de Cosquín, one of the largest in this field!

After being seriously affected by the cultural repression imposed by the dictatorship installed between 1976-1983, folk music arose from the Falklands War of 1982, although more related to other genres of Argentina and Latin American popular music expressions, like the Tango, the so-called Rock Nacional, El Cuarteto, and Cumbia.

Atahualpa Yupanqui
Atahualpa Yupanqui

The historical evolution of folk music took shape in four major regions in Argentina: Cordoba-Northwest, Cuyo, The Littoral and Pampa-Patagonian Surera, influenced by, and influential in the musical cultures of border countries such as Bolivia, southern Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay.

Atahualpa Yupanqui, Mercedes Sosa, and Andrés Chazarreta are unanimously considered the most important artists in the history of folk music of Argentina.

Let’s go to our album:

The Grupo Vocal Argentino is a folk music group created in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1966, composed by two stages with different integrations: the first between 1966-1970 led by Chango Farías Gómez and the second from 1974 onwards, led by Carlos Marrodán. In the first stage, the group was a quintet characterized by its modern and innovative style in how to interpret the folklore, being considered the best vocal group in the history of the folk music of Argentina. (!)

They recorded two albums, Grupo Vocal Argentino (1966) and Misa Criolla in (1968), the latter considered as one of the best albums from all-time.

In 1970 the group disbanded.

Carlos Alberto Marrodán
Carlos Alberto Marrodán

Simultaneously, in 1973 the musician Carlos Marrodán, an admirer of Chango Farías Gómez work had attempted to enter the GVA, forming an unnamed octet and invited Chango to witness the first results. Chango was so pleased that he offered the use of the name Grupo Vocal Argentino to Morrodán.

With this composition in the following year, he recorded the today’s album with the following formation: Carlos Heredia, Carlos Fanelli, Roberto Maldonado, José Bravo, Adrián Gómez, Eduardo Curetti, Raúl Bissón and Ricardo D’Agostino.

MPA, 1986
MPA, 1986

Chango has a curious statement that sums up everything we’ve seen so far:

‘I had to always struggle with the dichotomy of whether I do or not folklore. Accept the term folklore was one of the many misfortunes that befall us as a people at the cultural level. I always found that word shifted the concept of evolution possible in our music. All of our historical problems of whether or not this is the folklore was settling in musical terms. So I built the Huanca Huá, which was the foundation stone for the vocal groups were seen, over time, as natural within the genre. In the MPA I got with modern codes that arise in the world and proved that you can keep playing ours. With La Manija showed the excellence of the popular’

The ‘IM’ highlights are Debajo de la Morera and Cholita TraidoraBuen Viaje!

Tracks Include:

A1 La Finadita (Francisco Díaz, Julián Antonio Díaz) / Chacarera

A2 Torcaza, Paloma, Torcaza (Roberto Margarido / Angel Ritrovato) / Cancíon

A3 Debajo de la Morera (Virgilio Ramón Carmona) / Zamba

A4 Chacarera Santiagueña (Tradicional) / Chacarera

A5 Coplas Para la Pena (M. Antonia Barros / Carlos Marrodán) / Zamba

B1 Cholita Traidora (Tradicional) / Carnavalito

B2 Zambita del Caminante (Atahualpa Yupanqui) / Zamba

B3 Añorando (Hermanos Simón) / Chacarera

B4 La Tupungatina (Cristino Tapia) / Tonada

B5 Viva Jujuy (Tradicional) / Bailecito

Raúl Bissón, José M. Bravo, Eduardo Curetti, Ricardo D’Agostino

Carlos Fanelli, Adrián Gómez. Carlos Heredia, Roberto Maldonado

Arreglos y Dirección: Carlos Marrodán

Trova XT-80092

El Ateneu, Library
El Ateneu, Library

Osanna – Preludio Tema Variazioni Canzona (1972)

cover

Italy. Rome has for centuries been the leading political and religious center of Western civilization, serving as the capital of both the Roman Empire and Christianity. During the Dark Ages, Italy endured a cultural and social decline in the face of repeated invasions by Germanic tribes, with Roman heritage being preserved by Christian monks. Beginning around the 11th century, various Italian communes and maritime republics rose to great prosperity through shipping, commerce and banking (capitalism has its roots in Medieval Italy); concurrently, Italian culture flourished, especially during the Renaissance, which produced many notable scholars, artists, and polymaths such as da Vinci, Galileo, Michelangelo, and Machiavelli.

Meanwhile, Italian explorers such as Polo, Columbus, Vespucci, and Verrazzano discovered new routes to the Far East and the New World, helping to usher in the European Age of Exploration. Nevertheless, Italy would remain fragmented into numerous warring states for the rest of the Middle Ages, subsequently falling prey to larger European powers such as France, Spain, and later Austria. Italy would enter a long period of decline that lasted until the beginning of the 18th century.

Renaissance Ensemble
Renaissance Ensemble

The second and the third wars of Italian independence resulted in the unification of most of present-day Italy between 1859 and 1866. From the late 19th century to the early 20th century, the new Kingdom of Italy rapidly industrialized and acquired a colonial empire in Africa. However, Southern and rural Italy remained largely excluded from industrialization, fuelling a large and influential diaspora. Despite victory in WWI, Italy entered a period of economic crisis and social turmoil, which favored the establishment of a Fascist dictatorship in 1922.

The subsequent participation in WWII at the side of Nazi Germany ended in military defeat, economic destruction, and civil war. In the years that followed, Italy abolished the monarchy, reinstated democracy, and enjoyed a prolonged economic boom, thus becoming one of the most developed nations in the world.

El Duce, Speech
El Duce, Speech

Let’s go to our history:

The Years of Lead was a period of socio-political turmoil in Italy that lasted from the late 1960s into the early 1980s. This period was marked by a wave of terrorism, initially called Opposing Extremisms (Opposti Estremismi) and later renamed as the Anni di Piombo. Among the possible origins of the name is a reference to the vast number of bullets fired, or even the 1981 Margarethe von Trotta’s homonym film (in Italy).

There was widespread social conflict and unprecedented acts of terrorism carried out by both right-and left-wing paramilitary groups. An attempt to endorse the neo-fascist Italian Social Movement (MSI) by the Tambroni Cabinet led to rioting and was short-lived. The Christian Democrats (DC) were instrumental in the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) gaining power in the 1960s and they created a coalition.

Multiple Murders
Multiple Murders

The assassination of the Christian Democrat leader Aldo Moro in 1978 ended the strategy of historic compromise between the DC and the Italian Communist Party (PCI). The assassination was carried out by the Red Brigades, then led by Mario Moretti. Between 1969 and 1981, nearly 2,000 murders were attributed to political violence in the form of bombings, assassinations, and street warfare between rival militant factions. Although political violence has decreased substantially in Italy since that time, instances of sporadic violent crimes continue because of the re-emergence of anti-immigrant, neo-fascist, and militant communist groups. (!)

The left-wing autonomist movement lasted from 1968 until the end of the 1970s. The years of lead began with the shooting death of the policeman Antonio Annarumma in 1969 and the Piazza Fontana bombing.

Aldo Moro, Kidnapped
Aldo Moro, Kidnapped

Is in the midst of this boiling cauldron that Italian prog (or symphonic) scene is established from Collage, La Orme’s second album in 1971. The Lp, beyond the indisputable technical merit, had a great reception and was hailed as a turning point to Italian rock. At the dawn of the 70s, Italy was the first country to recognize the talents of some British progressive bands such as Genesis, Gentle Giant, and Van der Graaf Generator, whose first albums had been ignored at home, becoming their market reference; they even toured and entered at the musical charts.

Thenceforth bands like Premiata Forneria Marconi, New TrollsBanco del Mutuo Soccorso, MetamorfosiIl Balletto di Bronzo, Goblin and Osanna played symphonic rock heavily influenced by classical music, against the backdrop of the Italian canzone tradition. The scene more or less ran dry by the end of 1975, owing to the difficulty of making a living as a rock band, many bands from Italy released only one or two albums before disappearing. Emphasis on PFM, they were the only band to enter the U.S. charts and completed four tours in the country!

PFM, U.S. Tour
PFM, U.S. Tour

Let’s go to our album:

Osanna came from Naples and was formed in 1971. The band was composed of Danilo Rustici (guitar), Lino Vairetti (vocals), Lello Brandi (bass) and Massimo Guarino (drums), all these musicians come from the band Cittá Frontale. There was also Elio D’Anna who came from Showmen. The group immediately began an intense concert activity, beginning in 1971 at the Caracalla Pop Festival and later taking part in the Festival of Avant-Garde Music and New Trends in Viareggio. With all band members dressed in long vests and with their faces painted, the collaboration with theatrical groups produced unique shows, odd for the Italian audience of the time.

The group signed a contract with Fonit and debuted with the album L’uomo, who receives a good reception and won the Record Critics’ Award Italian.

The following year, master Luis Enriquez Bacalov involves the group in the execution of the soundtrack composed for the film Milano Calibro 9, a police noir thriller. The album is titled Preludio Tema Variazioni Canzona, and fits into the genre between classical orchestra and rock music, which had just been started by the same Bacalov with the Concerto Grosso by New Trolls.

1972, Backcover
1972, Backcover

The intense live activity continues in 1973, in that year, they release Palepoli, which is considered one of the most successful Lp’s of the Italian prog scene (mine’s favorite). The record consists of three long compositions, which are developed around the contrast between tradition and modernity, between the urge to innovate which is opposed to the recovery of the folk tradition. Palepoli, means the ancient city, is ideally opposed to modern Naples, cold and detached in his metropolitan selfishness.

In 1974, Landscape of Life is released, though the group is undermined by internal strife, heightened during the process of recording. After its publication, the group dissolves to reconstitute itself in 1977 without Elio D’Anna, replaced by keyboardist Fabrizio D’Angelo, and with Enzo Petrone on bass. With this formation, Osanna realizes Suddance in 1978 for CBS, a record that despite critical acclaim does not receive the expected success. They finally melt at the beginning of the following year.

Palepoli Promo
Palepoli Promo

The band reformed in 1999 (with Lino Vairetti) releasing the Lp Taka Boom the following year, including old successes and some new songs. Their next production was Prog Family, under the name of Osanna/Jackson, featuring notable figures of prog rock history, such as Van der Graaf Generator’s saxophonist David JacksonKing Crimson’s David CrossBalletto di Bronzo’s Gianni Leone and others. (!)

Later, with David Jackson and Gianni Leone, the band contributed eight tracks to the live boxed set Prog Family (2009). And finally Rosso Rock Live In Japan (2012).

Although not being a proghead, I’ve always tried to bring things beyond the usual, thankfully, today’s album is no exception, and despite not even being the best of the band, Palepoli (forementioned). Here, Osanna’a terrific timbres, strong recording, and performance is a need between the Italian scene, they’re my faves!

Portrait
Portrait

Classical and Rock, I will leave the magnificent Preludio and Tema with you, this Lp also ends with some tacky  (sentimental) rock ballad, a must-see. The ‘IM’ highlights are for: Variazione III (Shuum…), a preview of the direction the band took in Palepoli, Elio D’Anna’s performance resembles Hermeto Paschoal freaky technique, short but amazing. And Variazione VI (Spunti Dallo Spartito…) a serious hard rock with a soul pause and a King Crimson ending. Kyau Tafiya!

Tracks Include:

A1 Preludio (Bacalov)

A2 Tema (Bacalov)

A3 Variazione I (To Plinius)

A4 Variazione II (My Mind Flies)

B1 Variazione III (Shuum…)

B2 Variazione IV (Tredicesimo Cortile)

B3 Variazione V (Dialogo)

B4 Variazione VI (Spunti Dallo Spartito n° 14723/AY del Prof. Imolo Meninge)

B5 Variazione VII (Posizione Raggiunta)

B6 Canzona (There Will Be Time) [Baldazzi, Bacalov, Bardotti]

Fonit ‎– LPX 14

Music A3 ~ B5 by: Osanna

Credits

  • Arranged by, Directed by (Orchestra Direction) – Luis Enriquez Bacalov
  • Bass – Lello Brandi
  • Drums, Percussion, Vibraphone, Vocals – Massimo Guarino
  • Guitar, Vocals – Danilo Rustici
  • Saxophone, Flute, Vocals – Elio D’Anna
  • Vocals, Synthesizer – Lino Vairetti
  • Producer: Sergio Bardotti
  • Recorded by: Giancarlo Jametti
  • Recorded by, Mixed by: Plinio Chiesa
  • Liner Notes: Matthias Scheller
  • Artwork, Photography by: G. Greguoli
  • Transferred by: Franco Brambilla

Soundtrack from the movie Milano Calibro 9

Vesuvius View
Vesuvius View

Yma Sumac – Voice of the Xtabay (1950)

cover

Peru. The Andes is the longest continental mountain range in the world. It is a continual range of highlands along the western coast of South America. This range is about 7,000 km (4,300 mi) long, about 200 km (120 mi) to 700 km (430 mi) wide, and of an average height of about 4,000 m (13,000 ft). The Andes extend from north to south through seven South American countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela.

Along its length, the Andes is split into several ranges, which are separated by intermediate depressions. The Andes is the location of several high plateaux – some of which host major cities such as Quito, Bogotá, Arequipa, Medellín, Sucre, and La Paz. The Altiplano plateau is the world’s second-highest following the Tibetan plateau.

Peruvian Andes
Peruvian Andes

Many years before Les Baxter set off his brilliant career as a composer and arranger with the cornerstone exotica album Ritual of the Savage, formerly Martin Denny establish commercially the genre in 1957 peaking a #1 position on the Billboard charts two years later, or even afore Hawaii emancipate itself as the 50th state in the U.S. along with the tiki culture fever, deep in the Peruvian Amazon forest, there was a girl supposed to be an heiress from the ancient Incas, who molded his voice within the jungle fauna. This unrealistic story could be a lie, but it is not.

A supernatural coloratura that showed to the world the original indigenous traditions, its music, customs, and beauty. Thanks to this Peruvian songbird post-war America enjoyed as never the musical impressions from distant regions and unknown places, later sold as mythical Shangri-las or stereotype South-American jungles.

Machu Pichu Overview
Machu Pichu Overview

The girl, was Yma Sumac certainly the grandiose female voice of the twentieth century, owner of a vocal range of 4 and a half octaves! Today’s post will begin the search for that which has already been heralded as the revelation of all time, admired by Sinatra, Dietrich, Elizabeth II, and many others, the diva throughout its career has gone from folklore chants for the opera, mambo, jazz and even rock.

She also starred in two Paramount films, Secret of the Incas (54) and Omar Khayyam (57), worked on Broadway, even got his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and literally toured across the world in more than 500 shows over 20 years of hight activity. On Capitol Records, she sold more than 4 million albums through the 50s and early 60s! These achievements should never be forgotten, Yma’s strong personality and endowed voice will always remain. (RIP)

Yma Sumac, 1954
Yma Sumac, 1954

Let’s go to our history:

Born in the high mountains of Ichocan, Peru, Zoila Augusta Emperatriz Chavarri del Castillo (13 September 1922 – 1 November 2008), had dreams of being a great singer since his childhood. However, such a dream was deemed almost impossible in Peru and especially for a proper lady. But the girl was unstoppable, around the age of 9 she could often be seen high atop a mountain in the High Andes singing ancient Peruvian folkloric songs, to a group of rocks, which she pretended was her audience. Entranced by the beautiful birds that sang nearby, she began to imitate them, by incorporating their high pitched sounds into her repertoire. (!)

Her voice matured by age 13, a year before Yma’s arrival in Lima, Moisés Vivanco, musician, composer, and director of the Peruvian National Board of Broadcasting had formed the Compañia Peruana de Arte, a group of Indian dancers, singers and musicians. On hearing the young girl sing, he invited her to join his company, but her mother would not consent. Yma, however, was interested, on the pretext of attending night classes, she rehearsed regularly with the Compañia and with them made her radio debut early in 1942, appearing there in over Radio Belgrano, Argentina.

Traditional Costume
Traditional Costume

Vivanco and Miss Sumac were married on June 6, 1942, in a civil ceremony in the city of Arequipa, at the foot of El Misti, famed Andean peak. After the wedding, the troupe played in theatres, night clubs, concert halls, and over radio networks in Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, and Mexico City. Soon enough South America was quite enchanted with this amazing voice, in 1943, she would record around 16 songs in Argentina. Seeking bigger dreams they arrived in New York on January 1946, the company reduced to three members, Moisés, Yma, and her cousin Cholita Rivero, and sought engagements as the Inca Taky Trio.

From 1946 to 1949 they played in many clubs, but Americans were not prepared or particularly interested in the music, finding it a bit bizarre, but many were enchanted with Yma’s lovely face and voice. One night in a small New York club, a talent scout from Capitol Records was present. The man apparently saw great potential in this young lady, he immediately signed them to Capitol, a major American record label.

Moises Vivanco & Yma Sumac
Moises Vivanco & Yma Sumac

However, changes would have to be made. Imma Sumack would be changed once again, to Yma Sumac a more glamorous spelling. The focus would be on Yma, and Vivanco would be the man behind the Diva. The simple twangy traditional Peruvian accompaniment would have to be incorporated into large and lush orchestral versions if it were to take on Universal appeal. Now in her mid 20’s Sumac’s voice had reached its unparalleled peak, and her beauty intoxicating. Voice of the Xtabay was recorded in 1950 and sold over 100,000 copies without major publicity. (!)

After a massively successful concert at the Hollywood Bowl that same year, Yma Sumac would become world-famous, traveling the globe and being a vocal phenomenon. She toured and recorded 7 albums for the entire decade of the ’50s, had worldwide fan clubs and was eventually declared the 8th wonder of the world! In 1961 she went to make two weeks of concerts in Russia, there, the demand for her was so great that she stayed in staggering for 6 months. By tours end, she and husband Moises Vivanco were more than ready for (their second and final) divorce.

Life Magazine, 50s
Life Magazine, the 50s

In the early 1970s with the encouragement of a few fans, Yma Sumac recorded a complete album of psychedelic music, titled Miracles. Her now-infamous temperament dominated the entire project and the album was quickly pulled from record stores everywhere, once complications arose. The original story from this fabulous Lp will be held here soon. The millennium brought a handful of surprise personal appearances, which resulted in Yma Sumac being awarded the Orden Del Sol of Peru in May of 2006, she traveled to accept the honor in person and stayed two weeks.

Let’s go to our album:

I’m very proud to introduce this kind of music, besides all rock, the folklore and world traditions will always be welcomed here! Our today’s album is Yma Sumac’s first and most popular release, and also one of her least hokey or pop-oriented. The spectacular cinematic arrangements composed, arranged and conducted by Les Baxter leads us to many different colorful landscapes, always accompanied by Yma’s frightful performance; the fuzz about his vocal range is ample but I’m not an aficionado in high notes, his technique in lower regions are incredible even for a contralto singer.

Life Magazine, 50s
Zoila Augusta Emperatriz Chavarri del Castillo

Our history with an artist like her is just starting, I’m sure everyone will enjoy the many releases of the Inca empress. The ‘IM’ highlights are for: Virgin of the Sun God (Taita Inty), probably the greatest arrangement from the album, a slow-paced percussion invites to the wonders of some faraway place, with lush strings and Yma’s vocal outbursts, an instant classic. And Tumpa (Earthquake), this folklore chant has a short clip in-film on Secret of The Incas, Yma’s shrieks are really incredible, be welcomed to this ancient Latin American treasury and ಉತ್ತಮ ಪ್ರವಾಸ!

Tracks Include:

A1 Virgin of the Sun God (Taita Inty)

A2 Lure of the Unknown Love (Xtabay)

B1 High Andes! (Ataypura!)

B2 Monkeys (Monos)

C1 Chant of the Chosen Maidens (Accla Taqui)

C2 Dance of the Winds (Wayra)

D1 Earthquake! (Tumpa!)

D2 Dance of the Moon Festival (Choladas)

78 rpm album

Capitol Records, Monophonic – 1950 United States

Capitol (1950 and 1952 releases), track position may vary.

All songs by Moises Vivanco, except:

A2 John Rose / Leslie Baxter and C1 Moises Vivanco / Leslie Baxter

Credits

  • Conductor, Arranged by, Composed by (Additional Music): Leslie Baxter
  • Music by (Inca Music), Lyrics by Moises Vivanco
  • Photography: Tom Kelly

Recorded in February 1950

Originally released as a 78 set and 7″ boxed set

Lima's Shore
Lima’s Shore