Artists on This is Vintage Now Vol. 2
Sad Salamanders is a studio project fronted by Emmy-nominated film and television music composer Scooter Pietsch. Scooter’s love for the movies of the 1960s led him to pay attention to their music scores, and he began writing music in similar styles, working in particular to replicate the frenetic and over-the-top atmospheres in the films’ party and club scenes. “The Exotic Sandy Warner” is one of the mellower selections from the group’s debut album Cigarettes and Fishnets (2008). The song is named for 1950s/1960s actress and model Sandy Warner, who is known today as “The Exotica Girl” because of her appearance on fourteen different album covers by exotica music legend Martin Denny.
Buy Cigarettes and Fishnets by Sad Salamanders on CDBaby.
Continuing the exotica theme is the late composer Robert Drasnin. Drasnin’s reputation rests on one album of Les Baxter-styled exotica music entitled Voodoo (1959) that has become a favorite with collectors and lounge music fans. Upon retiring as Director of Music at CBS Television in the 1990s, Drasnin revisited his exotica work, performing at tiki conventions and releasing a follow up album, Voodoo II, in 2007. Drasnin left a set of unfinished tracks upon his 2015 passing that were completed by musicologist and composer Skip Heller, and have been released as a third and final LP entitled Voodoo III. The MPS Records-style jazz track “Hulabalu” is taken from this latter LP.
Buy Voodoo III by Robert Drasnin on Amazon.com and iTunes.
Organist and instrument salesman Barry Morgan has won the hearts of fans throughout his native Australia, both with his numerous appearances on Australian television, and as a featured tour guest of rock performer Gotye (of “Somebody That I Used to Know” fame). Morgan’s zany personality is wildly entertaining, and he plays up the kitsch factor to dizzying heights as he demonstrates his “One Finger Method” that brings out the organ player in even the most tone deaf of novices. Our song, “Big Bossa,” is an edited version of the opening track on Morgan’s excellent debut album, The Touch of You.
Netherlands-based Sunday Combo is a one-man musical project created by a gentleman named Bas Doppen. Sunday Combo’s debut album, Music For Lounge Chairs, is largely electronically generated, but still delivers an impressively authentic-sounding Vintage atmosphere in a 1960s “crime jazz” style. Doppen opted to use real vibraphones, organs, and pianos as the album’s lead instruments, largely shifting the electronics to the background; he credits this as the reason why he was able to achieve the high level of authenticity heard on the album. “Womp” is the lead-off single from Music For Lounge Chairs.
Buy Music For Lounge Chairs by Sunday Combo on Bandcamp.
Veteran jazz vocalist Sue Raney released her first album with Capitol Records in her late teens. She has continued to record and release albums over the years, including the moving 2011 album Listen Here, featuring Alan Broadbent (Paul McCartney, Natalie Cole, Irene Kral) on piano. “Aren’t You Glad You’re You” is a rare track from the Listen Here sessions that was only released on the Japanese edition edition of the album.
Kenny Sasaki & the Tiki Boys
Japanese film and television music composer Ken Sasaki (or “Kenny Sasaki” when working with the Tiki Boys) is another artist who caught the tiki/Vintage bug and decided to try his hand in recreating music in the exotica and cocktail jazz genres. His albums started out electronic, but have become more and more authentically Vintage sounding over the years, and actually predate the tiki/exotica music explosion that kicked off in 2011. “Fly Me to the Island” opens Sasaki’s fantastic third album Island Slumber (2010); the song’s simplicity and brevity are positively spellbinding.
Buy Island Slumber by Kenny Sasaki & the Tiki Boys at CDBaby.
Sarah Jane & the Blue Notes
Sarah Jane is a St. Louis-based singer and vintage reseller whose unique home, which she calls “The Deco Fortress,” features a carefully curated collection of art deco furnishings and memorabilia, and has become a favorite sleepover destination on Airbnb. Sarah Jane’s big band Sarah Jane & the Blue Notes features some of the best of St. Louis’ veteran big band musicians, and has become a regular attraction at Miami Beach, Florida’s Art Deco Weekend. Our track, Our track, “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” is an exclusive and otherwise unavailable song that the group recorded especially for This is Vintage Now Vol. 2.
Click on the album title and scroll down to buy Sarah Jane & the Blue Notes’ album Sarahnade En Bleu (2015), which features Sarah Jane and the band swinging through an hour’s worth of big band and jazz tunes. It’s a joyous, atmospheric collection that sounds like an underground band rehearsal in an alternate world where swing is still king.
Sweden’s premier exotica group Ìxtahuele (pronounced IHKS-tah-hweh-leh) became a worldwide sensation after their formation in 2011, thanks to their faithful recreations of combo exotica in the style of Martin Denny and Gene Rains. Sweden has a rich heritage of music education that gives their renditions of music in all genres a recognizable weightiness and “cut above” quality, and Ìxtahuele have continued this tradition of musical excellence in their chosen genre. The tracks on Ìxtahuele’s 2012 four-song demonstration recording initially perpetuated the word of mouth excitement about the group; these tracks were subsequently rerecorded for their debut album Pagan Rites (2013). The edited version of “Searching the Souq” presented here comes from the original 2012 demo recording.
Alika Lyman Group
If the name “Alika Lyman” sounds familiar, well, it should. Alika’s uncle is none other than Arthur Lyman, one of the big three pioneers of the exotica music genre, alongside Les Baxter and Martin Denny. Hawaii-based Alika Lyman is a bass player who has followed in his famous uncle’s footsteps, keeping the tiki torch burning for current fans of Vintage music. His jazz combo's self-titled album, The Alika Lyman Group (2013), evokes a late-night sound that’s great for overnight drives and afterhours reminiscing. “Crude” is one the moodier selections on the album, and features exotica disc jockey and radio host Mark Riddle (aka Marty Lush) on vibraphone.
Buy the self-titled album by The Alika Lyman Group at Bandcamp.
London-based singer Purdy has achieved a good bit of notoriety in her native England, most recently touring with British TV personality Jools Holland. In 2012, Purdy wrote and produced “This Is the Song,” a track created as an unofficial follow-up to Vera Lynn’s WWII hit “We’ll Meet Again.” The hard work paid off, with Dame Vera Lynn herself commending Purdy on the song, and Purdy performing the track at Wembley Stadium as Britain’s ITV channel broadcasted the performance. “This is the Song” was rejected by British radio for “not being modern enough,” and is presented here as a rare exclusive track.
Buy Purdy’s debut album Diamond in the Dust (2015) at Amazon.com or iTunes. Diamond in the Dust features a vast, Spaghetti Western-cum-Phil Spector sound, with Purdy’s alluring contralto permeating the air like a siren at sea.
Dallas-based jazz singer Laura Ainsworth is breathing new life into the previously staid “jazz standards” album format. She and her husband, musicologist and author Pat Reeder (Hollywood Hi-Fi), have assembled a repertoire of rare period tracks that have only been recorded a few times; familiar standards that are given fresh treatments; and recent songs written in older styles. The songs coalesce to tell a story of a dangerous but fascinating woman (played by Laura) who is “addicted to love.”
“Last Train to Mercerville,” from Laura's second album Necessary Evil, was written recently by a New York-based gentleman who composes songs in a convincing Gershwin/Irving Berlin/Johnny Mercer style. The lyrics reference 33 Johnny Mercer songs total; can you find them all?
Buy Necessary Evil by Laura Ainsworth on CDBaby.