Enoch Light

Provocative Percussion, Vol. 2

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Imprisoned in an infinite whirl of hi-fi LP spinning, the victim should keep in mind that percussion deemed provocative, persuasive, and even pertinent is potentially preferable to that known as Ping Pong Percussion. The latter term was coined to describe a gimmick that was discovered moments after the concept of stereo: the idea of moving any obnoxious sound back and forth between the left and right stereo speakers. In some cases this term was used in lieu of the name of an actual artist: both Enoch Light and the lesser-known Chuck Sagle were involved in such productions. Pushing his own identity as the leader of ensembles such as the apparently well-illuminated Enoch Light & the Light Brigade, the maestro carefully sketched out musical arrangements in which percussion instruments would be featured as an integrated, essential aspect of the music, not the sore thumb or acne illumination associated with the ping pong plank of the platform. Listeners delving into a side of American culture that retroactively seems like space age pop may indeed wonder what all the fuss was about. The second volume of a series presented as Provocative Percussion really doesn't feature percussion any more heavily than a good big band, especially one steeped in Latin jazz. Compared to these standards, the opening snare drum solo played with brushes on "Speak Low" is superb, while a "Hernando's Hideaway" outing with castanets and cowbells sounds a bit like a big-band station broadcasting while the radio itself bounces around inside a metal shopping cart, but not enough like that to really provoke anyone. Light can be a heavyweight when it comes to big-band charts -- the only thing to perplex picky percussion people is how often other sections of the band are featured just as strongly, from a brass fanfare ringing like Harry James to the hot saxophone swaggering swing of "The Lady Is a Tramp."

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