Orienta - The Markko Polo Adventurers
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74321 782292 7
1. Song Of India
2. Yokahama Ferryboat
3. Rain In Rangoon
4. Madam Sloe Gin's
5. The Girlfriend Of A Whirling Dervish
6. Mountain High, Valley Low
8. Limerhouse Blues
9. Night Of The Tiger
11. Train To Ranchipur
12. Runaway Rickshaw
Recorded in Hollywood, 1958
There is really nothing with which to compare the music of Orienta. One might say it resembles the dreams of an imaginative person who has fallen asleep during a "Dr. Fu Manchu" movie on television. For these incomparable musical vignettes combine the sounds of the East with the wit of the West; the charm of the Orient with the humor of the Occident. They are the adventures of a sensitive traveler who wears glasses which are slightly out-of-focus and who is irrepressibly irreverent of Asiatic saws and clichés.
But most important: these impressions are excellent music and hi-fi Fun with a capital "F"! Here are sounds and effects to gladden the tweeters and woofers of the most critical hi-fi addict, coupled with interesting melodies, exciting rhythms and adventurous harmonies.
The album has been carefully designed for stereophonic reproduction. The interplay of music and effects between the tracks creates an amazing illusion of motion. The listener is transported to the scene of activity, becoming a part of the musical drama. It would be difficult to find a recording more ideally suited for the demonstration and enjoyment of stereophonic equipment.
Orienta is not without its serious moments. Indeed, it is primarily a serious artistic effort. Impeccably written, performed and recorded, the album is a study in mood and sound, delightfully combining music and sound effects to tell stories of humor, romance, intrigue and life in the Orient.
Arranger-conductor Gerald Fried has accomplished these ends by skillful writing and the use of a wide assortment of woodwind and rhythm instruments. During the recording sessions the studio was virtually filled with percussion instruments, as many as twenty-five of them at one time. These were played by five of the nation's top percussionists, each of whom "doubled" on several instruments. This astounding array of paraphernalia prompted one of the musicians to quip: "Why don't they hire that Oriental god with six or eight arms?" Many hours were spent in preparing, recording and editing the music and authentic sound effects to insure the finest stereophonic reproduction.
Rimsky-Korsakoff's Song of India finds the ancient music of the Beggars' Procession vying for attention with the sounds of a country struggling to become modern. A light jazz inflection underlines the contrast.
Yokohama Ferryboat takes the listener on a picturesque journey in an antique boat. Gulls, whistles and milling passengers accompany the musical tourist as the boat huffs and puffs into the slip, pouring the commuters into the teeming city.
Rain in Rangoon was composed for the album by Vernon Duke and depicts a Burmese maiden whose reveries in the garden are interrupted by a tropical storm. She seeks refuge indoors until a final clash of thunder marks the end of the storm and the resumption of her placid dreams.
When an American sailor wanders into the Singapore hot-spot called Madam Sloe Gin's", he finds Oriental honky-tonk jazz, booze and girls. Getting his fill of the first two, he leaves with the latter to seek further adventures.
When The Girl Friend of a Whirling Dervish asks a touring jazz group to accompany her dancer friend, the poor Dervish has a rough time catching the beat. He finally gets "hip," however, and turns out to be a swinger.
Tlie Raymond Scott composition, Mountain High, Valley Low, is used to frame the story of a Princess who periodically descends from her mountain sanctuary to address her Chinese subjects. Having intoned her benediction, she returns to the hills. Marni Nixon provides tin-voice of the Princess.
Scheherazade is music for dancing girls. The Arabian setting would not deceive the well-traveled American. Burlesque is burlesque . . . even in a Sultan's court.
Limehouse Blues is an Oriental ballet version of the American classic, "Frankie and Johnnie." Frankie is now called Chin and Johnnie is Chan but the result is the same: Chin stops Chan, Chan stops a bullet, the police stop Chin.
Tlie Night of the Tiger takes the listener to the interior of India where a festival is in progress. The roar of a tiger throws the celebrants into a panic which fasts until the "swish" of a hunting spear and the death cry of the big cat announce that the festival may continue in peace.
In the Harry Warren song Nagasaki, humor runs rampant. Tlie listener envisions the selection being played by a traditional Japanese orchestra, the members of which are gradually replaced by modern jazz and rock-'n'-roll enthusiasts.
Train to Ranchipur takes the listener on a hectic ride past dense jungle, through a tunnel and triumphantly into Ranchipur. The odor of the packed coaches defies even hi-fi description.
Runaway Rickshaw is a Leon Pober composition depicting the plight of a rickshaw boy pulling an overweight tourist. The going is bad enough uphill, and the downhill ride is brought to a wild end amid flying merchandise from a peddler's cart.
© by Radio Corporation of America, 1959