In the '50s, Martin Denny and Les Baxter were pioneers of a style of music that became known as exotica or lounge music. Arthur Lyman was a member of Denny's band. He formed the Arthur Lyman Group and achieved fame on his own. The Best of the Arthur Lyman Group is a set of traditional pieces and unexpected transcriptions by Lyman and his combo. Richard Vaughn recorded all of these tracks live in Honolulu. This stuff is so outlandish that it is cool. There is no need for deep listening. Lyman's group uses any and all forms of found sounds and yelps, yips, barks, whoops, and man-made animal noises. It is quite interesting to hear an island version of Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade" next to the big band sound (and island transcription) of "76 Trombones." Lyman's sound design skills give his four-piece ensemble a huge sound. Exotica has come and gone, but it still sounds pretty cool. This CD is the best of one of the best. It is essential.
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AllMusic Review by Jim Brenholts