This week’s artist spotlight is on vibraphonist extraordinaire, Cal Tjader! I pride myself on being Cal’s #1 fan, and collector of every one of his albums, give or take a few. So, when I saw this album recently, took a look at the song list, the personnel, not to mention the action shot of Cal on the cover, smiling, mallets in the air, playing live for KHIP, an FM Jazz station out of San Francisco, I knew it had to come home with me. Prior to seeing it in person, someone in one of the exotica music groups I belong to on Facebook, had posted a YouTube of one of the songs on it, along with the shot of the album cover. I’d never seen this album before, and didn’t even know of its existence! (How this one managed to slip past my radar, all this time, I’ll never know.) Perhaps I attracted it to me, because I really wanted to find it after that….and about a week later, BAM! There it was, staring me in the face! And it was a red disc! I love colored vinyl records!
The album was recorded live at The Blackhawk in 1959 and features some mellow as well as fast rhythms. My favorite track is “Mambo Terrifico.” The musicians include:
Bass – Victor Venegas – Drums – Mongo Santamaria, Timbales – Willie Bobo – Flute – Rolando Lozano Piano – Lonnie Hewitt
If you don’t have this record, you need to get it! Some say Cal’s music isn’t exactly exotic, but it depends on what album you listen to, as well as what you consider exotic, really. Some of it is more Latin Jazz, some completely different, like Several Shades of Jade. What made Cal such a great musician, in fact, was his versatility and willingness to explore different musical landscapes. We play a lot of his music on our show because we feel it pairs well with exotica music, which contains lots of Afro-Latin rhythms. If you already love his music, this album is definitely one to add to your existing collection of Cal Tjader albums.
Can’t get away for a tropical vacation? Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered with our very own tiki cocktail, the “Polynesian Paradise”! One sip of this tasty banana-coconut-pineapple baby and you’ll think you’ve been transported to the South Seas! Cheers! Here’s the recipe:
1 ounce Cruzan coconut rum or rum of your choice
1 ounce 99 bananas
1 ounce cream of coconut
3 ounces pineapple juice 1 ounce Meyers’s dark rum to float on top
Combine coconut rum, banana liqueur, cream of coconut and pineapple juice in a cocktail shaker. Fill with crushed ice. Shake vigorously for about 30 seconds. Fill two tiki mugs, Hurricane or brandy sifter glasses, your choice, half way with crushed iced. Pour mix. Finish with dark rum float on top. Enjoy!
One afternoon, recently, while browsing through YouTube videos, I found this one of Sondi, who, if you are really into exotica music, you will definitely recognize as an important figure on the scene, at the time. Tonight on the show we will be featuring music from her album, Sondi. Sondi Sodsai was born on March 18, 1934, in Siam, or what is now known as Thailand. Upon graduation from college, she received a Fulbright scholarship to study and teach English as a second language in the U.S. However, she changed direction and chose, instead, to study drama at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she focused on acting, directing and playwriting. She was often selected for leading parts in plays, from which she became noticed, and was subsequently invited to appear on talks shows, like “The Tonight Show.” She was later signed on to record for Liberty Records, the same label as Martin Denny, and recorded her one and only album for the label, called, simply, “Sondi.” It’s even said Denny personally recommended her to Liberty. She also appeared on “Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer” TV show, which is what you see here. Later, she went on to attend UCLA, declining a seven year contract with Fox Studios, in order to do so. She was awarded another scholarship, this time for two years, to pursue more schooling and training in drama. During her TV acting stints, she appeared on the series “Adventures in Paradise,”as well as “The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour.” In 1959 she represented Thailand in the Miss Universe pageant and won “Miss Friendship.” We hope you’ve enjoyed our exotica artist spotlight! Cheers!
Even though this is a really wacky name for a “not intended for commercial release” live recording of Martin Denny’s September 1964 performance at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska, this obscure gem, plucked from tapes of the live broadcast of the show on Alaskan Air Force Command Radio, is a real treat for the ears of any hardcore Martin Denny, or exotica music fan, for that matter. This rare recording, now on CD, but very hard to find, and pricey when you do, offers the listener a front row seat to a top notch show, complete with bird calls and awesome percussion elements, as per usual Denny, doing what he does best, playing tunes we all know and love, like “Quiet Village,” “Burma Train” as well as other hard to find covers, like “The World of Suzie Wong.” What else could you ask for? Just put it on, sit back, relax and let the music take you away. And if you have a tiki cocktail in hand when you do, you might never want to leave. So, when in doubt, always order the mai tai for yourself… and the Baked Alaska.
By popular request, since we’ve had so many people message us to give out the recipe for the “Kitty’s Fang” tiki cocktail I came up with, by experimenting with different recipes and coming up with something more to my taste, behold the final recipe!
How to make a Kitty’s Fang:
Serving: 1 – So, if you plan on having doubles, or more guests, you’ll have to do some calculating! We suggest you do all the math BEFORE you start drinking! 😉
In a cocktail shaker, combine the following ingredients:
1/2 oz. lime juice
1/2 oz. orange juice
1/2 oz. velvet falernum
1/4 oz. homemade grenadine – made with equal parts Pom pomegranate juice and white sugar
1/4 oz. passionfruit syrup. We recommend Liber
1 1/2 oz. aged dark rum – (Plantation Original Dark or Doorly’s 8 year work well with this drink.)
1/2 oz. 151 Demerara rum – (You can also use Wray & Nephew Overproof, if you don’t have 151 Demerara)
1/8 tsp absinthe. We prefer Mephisto
1 dash angostura bitters – (an extra couple of dashes if, like me, you like to taste more spices in your cocktail).
Add crushed ice
Shake for about 30 seconds to get contents very cold, or until you see frost on your cocktail shaker
Strain out contents into a Hurricane glass or tiki mug containing crushed ice.
Finally scored this Les Baxter album we’d been looking for, for a really long time! Que Mango! It’s lush, sophisticated, yet playful and romantic, all in one! It’s hard to pick just one track. They’re all different, yet mesh so perfectly together as an album. Play it and imagine yourself in a villa somewhere in Latin America, sipping a fine brandy or cognac, perhaps a glass of red wine or champagne, if that’s more your thing, and gazing out the window, dreaming of that special someone, planning a future rendezvous on a yacht or perhaps running wild with abandon with them through a field of flowers, and feeling all is right with the world, because when you play Les Baxter’s music, it is.
Two things usually happen when you put on “East of Suez“ by The 101 Strings Orchestra: 1) You either start walking around the room, sort of like Peter O’Toole in “Lawrence of Arabia”, looking for your camel, smoking cigarettes, and squinting for no apparent reason or 2) You feel the need to light some incense, grab some scarves and start dancing, freestyle, around the room, like Cleopatra at a rave. Trust us. It’s very theatrical, very cinematic. Very….very. But, in a good way. Just like exotica music. Once you’ve heard the whole album, though, don’t blame us if you get the sudden urge to order a side of falafel, decorate your bedroom with a bunch of colorful throw pillows and go around blinking your eyes and crossing your arms at people you don’t want to deal with, but it never works. Don’t say we never warned you!
We hope 2020 has already become a far distant memory for all of you, as foggy as everyone’s crazy Uncle Joe’s visions of sugar plums dancing to the frenzied beats of Perez Prado and Cugat’s mambo records after indulging in a few too many mai tais! 😀 We are soooo looking forward to a far better 2021, full of health, wealth and happier times for all of us! And we’re thrilled to continue to be a regular part of your weekends and very excited for what the coming year will bring us all! Here’s to a fabulous 2021! So, with that said, let’s all follow Mr. Moai and Mini Moai’s words of ancient wisdom and “Tiki On!” Cheers, baby!
Merry Christmas From “Kitty & Mr. C’s Enchanted Tiki Hut Show! We’re so grateful for each and every one of you and for your continued support of this show, and so very happy to have you as our guest each week for our virtual happy hour in the tiki hut! Happy Holidays and all the best to you and yours! Cheers! 🗿☃️🎄🌴🎵🍹🍸🎼😉 xo- Kitty & Mr. C!