Friday, February 17, 2012
In Search of New Tabus: Milt Raskin- Kapu (Forbidden) 1959
Milt Raskin's Kapu is a positively sterling addition to Exotica canon. Well-played, thoroughly Exotic, and committed to the specific tropes of the genre, it's a perfect-- if still somewhat slightly unremarkable-- Exotica LP. But what sets it apart from other perfect-in-tone, yet somewhat vaguely underwhelming efforts-- such as Ted Auletta's Exotica, Warren Barker's William Holden Presents: A Musical Touch of Far Away Places, to name just a couple-- is that the record contains a set of (almost?) exclusively original Raskin pieces.
A swing jazz pianist from way back, and a widely-employed, if not widely-known, session player, Mr. Raskin here employs his gift and experience in the disreputable and glorious art of the Exotica facsimile. The results are, as has been previously noted, sterling. Dreamy, Polynesian in flavor, lightly percussive, lush with strings and harp, Jungle Book flutes, and laden with bird calls... a casual listener might easily feel he was listening to a set of Exotica standards, but they're all unique. That said, once examined, none of the songs seem as though they could have become standards or standouts; they aren't that distinctive or weird, and their melodies don't endure like, say, "Taboo" or "Quiet Village". Which is okay. Think of this as a lost soundtrack to an old safari movie, and enjoy Mr. Raskin's excellent piano work and pitch-perfect production details. Notice that there ain't a bad track.
Just to clear up any confusion, this record has some alternate titles and artwork, so Exotic Percussion and Exotic Tahiti are essentially the same record as Kapu (Forbidden). The tracklisting may vary, but the selections do not.
This is eminently listenable, lovely, and original 2nd-tier Exotica. Not an all-time classic, but a must-have for any medium/large collection.
KAPU (FORBIDDEN) (320)