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Young at Heart. Nicolas de Angelis. Grand Concert Live. The Soul of Spain, Album). Many Splendored Themes. London Philharmonic Orchestra. The Diamond Symphonies. The Mystic Moods Orchestra. Moods for a Stormy Night. Edmundo Ros. Henry Mancini. Music Of Hawai Music Of Hawaii by Henry Mancini — isn't one of those late blooming entries of the Exotica genre when it was released in In fact, the existence of the album was most definitely a well set up ploy of the marketing people at RCA Records, trying to cash in on a highly contemporary phenomenon: the launch of George Roy Hill's sophisticated film Hawaii with Max von Sydow and Julie Andrews in the lead roles.
Suddenly, the tropical topos of these islands was rediscovered for a short amount of time, causing an ephemeral revival of the Exotica genre. And indeed does Mancini come up with a version of the original Hawaii Main Theme by Elmer Bernstein, while the rest of the album consists of various Hawaiian classics and one unique Mancini composition.
To be honest, I'm treating Music Of Hawaii quite unfairly in this introductory description, for the production value Heavenly - Nino Ricci - Nino Ricci´s Multicoloured Jazz Selection (CD top notch on the one hand, the used choir and silky brass sections offer a glimpse of Bert Kaempfert's style, and Heavenly - Nino Ricci - Nino Ricci´s Multicoloured Jazz Selection (CD multicolored strings provide a first flavor of the prospective 70's Easy Listening lushness.
On the other hand, the album has a huge and I really mean it! It reminds of the first cautious Funk movements that became equally successful a few years later. Surprisingly enough, this instrument is played in such a wonky Heavenly - Nino Ricci - Nino Ricci´s Multicoloured Jazz Selection (CD tonk way that Mike Simpson's Jungle Odyssey of the same year comes to mind on more than one occasion.
Apart from this, he plays it save and remains in slightly melancholic and all the more opulent realms, making this one of those melodious yet perishable albums at first, but provides a few twists and renditions that are interesting enough to make this a strong poster child of 60's Easy Listening Funk yay, another genre blending.
Still, it's not mandatorily a top pick for Exotica fans as you will see below. Fittingly enough, the album launches right with Bernstein's aforementioned Theme Of Hawaiiwhich was at the time a brand-new piece of music, only a few months old and not yet engraved in the collective mind of the listening audience.
Bernstein's version is what you might expect from a typical cinematic piece: it's pompous, melodramatic and string-heavy. Mancini, enslaved by the characteristic traits of the album, needs to streamline and limewash the overly loud and coarse sections and decides to deliver an entirely different, superbly technicolored approach with Heavenly - Nino Ricci - Nino Ricci´s Multicoloured Jazz Selection (CD harps, sloping ukuleles and a good-spirited choir.
Still, even Mancini decides to introduce quieter bridges filled with vibraphone sprinkles, a harpsichord and gentle percussion.
The last third sees the increased use of brass instruments and a rather curious final inclusion of the harpsichord that doesn't fit in this new context. But since the Theme Of Hawaii is seldom featured in the Exotica context, my complaint is negligible. The second song is a surprise … and is yet entirely expected at the same time.
Les Baxter's eternal classic Quiet Village — although not strictly tied to Hawaii — is offered in an orchestral setting that is much closer to the original than the various quartet or quintet incarnations of the genre's usual suspects. The rustic piano intro is enhanced by a humming male choir while the golden shimmering string section is accompanied by female singers.
Paradisiac flutes swirl in the background, a nylon-string guitar that is mixed way too loud takes over, followed by a warped harpsichord that is actually positively amusing in this setting. Gleaming woodwinds, which again are mixed too loud for my taste, are followed by the complete choir whose smashing performance marks the high point before the punchy brass leads the way to the exit.
A very curious version whose ingredients don't seem to fit and are too arbitrarily mixed. Still, if you're up for a unique cut of Quiet Village, this one could please you. Alfred Newman's composition The Moon Of Manakoora is next, and Mancini better not starts to fool around with the genuine gentleness of the original by featuring yet another harpsichord.
Luckily, he doesn't, as the slow exotic percussion is boosted by the cozy washes of harp strings and further refined by a female lead singer who adds mystique and grace.
She is later accompanied by the choir together with lavish, glowing strings. The appearance of the brass sections is especially silky. The best thing I can say about this version is that it is faithful to the original and the spirit.
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