Arthur Lyman

Taboo: The Greatest Hits of Arthur Lyman

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Along with Martin Denny, whose band he played in before going it solo, Arthur Lyman was one of the greats of exotica. It could also be argued that he was a little more consistent than his former boss too. Taboo: The Greatest Hits of Arthur Lyman does a good job of proving just that. At his peak Lyman was recording four albums a year, leaving the compilers a wealth of material to choose for this set. The title cut was Lyman's springboard to cocktail fame, his biggest hit and still standing out as his strongest outing, but the man was so consistent that it's hard to fault any tune that he laid his vibe mallets to, no matter how hoary. "Quiet Village," "Maui Chimes," "Jungle Drums," and "Hawaiian War Chant" are some of the sure winners that match the classic birdcall and percussion overload instrumentation of Lyman's band with equally exotic themes. Popular hits of the '60s get their due also with the surf chestnut "Miserlou" and Mongo Santamaria's "Afro Blue." Where this set pushes the limits and proves that Lyman had none (it's up to listeners to decide if those were limits of taste or ambition -- or both) is with standards. Jazz standards like Ellington's "Caravan" and Cole Porter's "Love for Sale" and unlikely traditional pieces like "Havah Nagilah" all get the exotica overhaul, and the arrangements work quite well, no matter what the source.

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