Exotica renaissance man Arthur Lyman (vibraphone/marimba/bandleader) leads Alan Soares (piano), John Kramer (bass/guitar/flute), and Harold Chang (percussion) through updates of a dozen popular titles on Blowin' in the Wind (1963), although the cover of Bob Dylan's anthemic folk statement is as potentially subversive as it gets. Continuing in his trend away from the overblown trappings of tropical tiki fare, Lyman lends his seasoned sense of musicality into a comparatively jazzier direction. His refined and stylish arrangement of "(I've Been Workin' on The) Railroad" takes on an upscale sensibility, as his tidy and brisk vibes hammer out well-developed phrases. The even-tempered interpretation of "Blowin' in the Wind" is clearly informed by Peter, Paul & Mary's melody-driven version, as opposed to Dylan's ragged acoustic original. Modern listeners might question that decision, however in the light of 1963, it isn't surprising since the trio were the ones who had the survey-topping adult contemporary hit. Never too far from their native roots, Lyman heads back into the jungle atmosphere for an outstanding rendition of "Nature Boy" Eden Ahbez's native bohemian classic "Eden's Island." Chang's unmistakable handiwork recalls his often underappreciated contributions to the combo -- especially as they move away from the quirky and passé space age bachelor pad style and into a less obtrusive approach. However -- as revealed in the Lyman scored "Arri Rang" -- the unit is easily able to return to its roots. Soares' strident piano even goes so far as sounding modish à la Dave Brubeck. A similar disposition drives the raucous "Brazilleros," as well as the impish groove permeating their spin of Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon Man." The romantic side of Blowin' in the Wind surfaces on the languid and lovely revision of "My Coloring Book" and perhaps of most significance the Mack Gordon/Harry Revel's ballad "Sweet Someone" as it would become a staple for Hawaiian artist Don Ho. Lyman and Soares each get a final chance to shine on the rhythm & blues fueled "Suzy's Waltz" -- which bears a striking resemblance to Ray Charles' soulful standard "What'd I Say." Lyman and crew likewise look to the silver screen for the Viva Zapata (1952) selection "Fantasia Mexicana." In 2008, Collectors Choice Music coupled Blowin' in the Wind with the album Cotton Fields (1962) onto a single CD as part of their complete reassessment of Lyman's Hi-Fi Records output.
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer