Enoch Light, Terry Snyder and the All-Stars – Persuasive Percussion/Enoch Light – Command Records/Top Music TM-SACD9013.2 stereo-only SACD, 50:49 ****:
(Featuring Tony Mottola; Willie Rodriguez; Dick Hyman; Jack Lesberg; Teddy Sommer; Artie Marotti; Stanley Webb, Dominic Cortese)
Enoch Light was a classical violinist, bandleader and sound engineer whose career spanned three decades (from the late 30s to the 60s). His greatest achievements were as a producer and band leader on his label Command Records. With Terry Snyder (drummer extraordinaire with Paul Whiteman, Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman) and the All-Stars, Light recorded a series of LP albums (the Persuasive Percussion releases) that raised the bar for modern stereo recording. Persuasive Percussion was a sonic achievement, first recorded in 1959 with groundbreaking “ping-pong stereo”. This technology featured the music jumping from the left speaker to the right and vice versa. Additionally, Light and Command Records set another precedent, using 35 mm film to record in place of tape, allowing higher levels and less hiss. The audiophile community was elated by this recording technique and the notion of hi-fidelity was expanded. Additionally, Command Records pioneered the gatefold sleeve format in vinyl packaging that became hugely popular and was used on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Light arranged the music (especially in Persuasive Percussion) to feature the recorded sound effects of the burgeoning stereo technology. While audiophiles helped the album sales, AM radio stations did not offer any airplay (as they were mono). Like many innovators, he was ahead of his time, and bottom-line marketing limited the commercial success.
While it is difficult to label the genre (space, lounge, bachelor-pad, easy listening, big band), the reissue of the first two volumes of Persuasive Percussion are still interesting and fun. From the opening bongos of the tightly-arranged “I’m In The Mood For Love”, the “ping-pong” effect is relentless. Each song manages a thrusting rhythm. “Whatever Lola Wants” (from Damn Yankees) introduces accordion, reeds, guitar and brush drumming to create a texture. “Miserlou” has a Middle-Eastern feel, but subtle touches (xylophone, gong, reeds) somehow work in the strict format. The Mary Martin show-stopper, “My Heart Belongs To Daddy” is a hybrid of big band jazz and gypsy accordion music. The electric guitar and vibes swing like a jazz combo. Cole Porter’s ballad “I Love Paris” has a café-smooth jazz arrangement, with a zany Spike Jones flourish. The liner notes detail the various sonic tricks that are heard on the individual tracks.
Latin influences imbue the albums with catchy dance tempos. “Miami Beach Rhumba” (with its baritone saxophone and marimbas and cowbell) could start the cocktails flowing. More salsa chaos ensues on “Mambo Jambo”, and subtle instrumental touches (like a Chinese cymbal on “Japanese Sandman’ and flute on “Aloha Oe”), showcase the complicated facets of the engineering.
Groups like Chaise Lounge and Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica have reinvigorated the “bachelor pad” music revival. Recent albums of Esquivel arrangements have preserved this quirky music. Top Music (with its superior equipment), offers a sophisticated precision to Enoch Light – Persuasive Percussion. (Especially in the Orient, where the album is targeted…Ed.)
(From Friendly Percussion Volume 1): I’m In The Mood For Love; Whatever Lola Wants; Miserlou; I Surrender, Dear; Orchids In The Moonlight; I Love Paris; My Heart Belongs To Daddy; Tabu; The Breeze And I; Aloha Oe; Japanese Sandman; Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing
(From Friendly Percussion Volume 2): Blue Is The Night; Blue Tango; Miami Beach Rhumba; Yours Is My Heart Alone; In A Persian Market; Mambo Jumbo
Pure Pleasure Records releases a re-mastered live vinyl of a great tenor saxophonist.