LES BAXTER & HIS ORCHESTRA
Les Baxter's Jungle Jazz
[engl] PLUS 4 BONUS TRACKS! Les Baxter (1922-1996) used to be an utterly talented composer and bandleader who was on the go to the max during his active years. His version and as I should say vision of jazz music was a contemporary fresh and colorful sound with an exotic vibe due to the use of many elements of latin music within a modernized big band sound. We speak of the exotica and space age era when jazz music became more than just a few musicians on stage in a back street pub sweating their life out while improvising. He draws inspiration from the various swing orchestras of the late 1920s and combines this lush big band approach with a hot south american groove that shows an affinity for Cuban club music, for mambo and salsa. With rhythmical effects and a few wordless female vocal passages added he builds this haunting jungle atmosphere on top while leaving out the too obvious animal voices. The latin jazz and swing elements harmonize fairly well with each other and the melodies Les Baxter and his orchestra create drag you into a different world. You can dance to this or just close your eyes and float upon this gentle river of sound. The tunes are all built and arranged like a movie score which is no wonder as Les Baxter has been a soundtrack composer ever since. What makes this record so special are the pictures that come to ones mind with the always changing soundscapes it features. It is by far not only an evergreen jungle forest with big cats, apes and savage men hunting for white goddesses but also an urban jungle with grey skyscrapers growing beside the dirty streets, a bridge between the exotic dreams of each young American in the 1950s and the often gloomy reality in the big cities. But it is always a joyful experience. The album gets performed by an orchestra of extraordinary talent with an exceptionally tight interplay and still sounds fresh and powerful after nearly 60 years. A reissue is welcome to drag it back into the light of attention as many younger jazz fanatics might have overlooked this gem due to whatever circumstances. This new edition makes sure ?Jungle jazz? survives and infects a whole new generation of swing kids.