with James Call and Peter Huestis


LB - I did the Broadway album unfortunately in a year when there were no hits. You know, they wanted to do a Broadway album and every show was kind of a bomb. There was no music at all.

PH - WILDCAT AND TENDERLOIN! I don't think anyone has heard of these Broadway films anymore.

LB - There was only one song--from CAMELOT--that had any quality at all.

PH- Well, I like El Sombrero on this album.

LB - What in the world is that? Is it any good?

PH - [laffing] It's from WILDCAT... Yeah, it's good.

LB - What does it sound like?

PH - Well, [holding up cover] here's "The Great White Way--the Les Baxter way!" Um, it's a pretty imaginative, lively arrangement. I think it has maracas in it. Do you ever listen to your old material?

LB - Never.

PH - Never? Do you think most of it is good? What are your favorites of your records?

LB - Do I think most of it is good? I think most of it is wonderful. [chuckles] My favorites are the exotic things and LA FEMME.

PH - Ahh, James has that one.

JC - [Going through stack] Yes. [Now holding up album]

LB- The best cover. And the best music. Wonderful music. Of course it was Frank Pourcel who did the compositions--are interesting. I love this album. You know, the comments on these albums are a much better interview than you are going to get later.


LB - Well, I had great hopes for that and it did absolutely nothing.

PH - It's a very lush album.

LB - It was supposed to be a story of a love affair. It just didn't work, I guess. I don't know.

PH - This is a pretty interesting record. This is on Reprise Records. THE PRIMITIVE AND THE PASSIONATE.

LB -That was a smaller orchestra than I would have liked to use.

PH - Now this is one of my favorite albums of yours. Actually, this is one of my favorite albums period, AFRICAN JAZZ.

LB - Really? My goodness. [Starts humming one of the tunes]

PH - Exactly! That's uhh, Congo Train. Excellent!

LB - Well, I used Plas Johnson on this. Does he get credit?

PH - [looking at the jacket] Um... There's several names here ... uhh ... Yeah! "Plas Johnson provides the surprising tenor sax passages."

LB - Yeah, he's fabulous.

PH - Also have "Larry Bunker playing xylophone, vibraphone and marimba."

LB - You know who he was?

PH - Not really.

LB - Ella Fitzgerald's accompanist, pianist and he played all kind of instruments.

PH - It also credits Milt Burnheart on trombone. [holding up next album] TAMBOO, of course. Another favorite of mine.

JC - I looked up the Billboard charts on you and TAMBOO and SKINS were listed as top-40 hits.

LB - You know what I want to do? I knew that SKINS was a hit album. It sold a lot. And I have mentioned to several--not really to record companies--I must be mentioning to the wrong people--I mention occasionally to somebody in the business that I want to do another album called "Brazilian Skins," or "Rio Skins," because Brazilian drums are just sensational. There isn't anything[out] on it.

JC - When did you get interested in that kind of drums?

LB - God. Right from the beginning. I've been down there 6 times and there's nothing like Brazilian percussion.

JC - It seems like it was the exotic drums that took you to the exotic directions, is that true?

LB- Yeah. God, I want to do a "Brazilian Skins." If you could help me on that.

JC - Be happy to.

LB - Any label. Anywhere. If they want a Les Baxter album. And it'll be just a--it won't be a big orchestra. You know, 12 at the most. Uhh, Brazilian percussionists, but it'll be interesting. I really want to do that.

PH - Have any of your records been released on CD?

LB - BEST OF BAXTER was. And I have...

JC - Did Capitol put that out?

LB - I think so and then they dropped it. But Gene Norman has an album out of me.

JC - He's over at Crescendo.

LB - Yeah. A Brazilian album out on CD.

PH - This one's kind of interesting, VAN DE CAMPS PRESENTS LES BAXTER, "music of the 60s." This strikes me as being another real hodgepodge. Stuff taken from different albums.

LB - Well, I did a TV show called, MUSIC OF THE SIXTIES, and they released an album off of the show, I guess. It was a really good TV show. I have a tape of it.

PH - Really? That would be interesting to see.

LB - There was a big orchestra and chorus.

PH - You know, James and I would really like to see some of these re-released. We were talking about how great, for instance, a compact disc re-release of TAMBOO and SKINS would be. And then one of RITUAL OF THE SAVAGE and, uhh...

LB - Well, RITUAL... and TAMBOO would be better, and then PORTS OF PLEASURE and whatever. You know...and Martin Denny gets re-released all the time.

PH - Even with Martin Denny, it's mostly collections and compilations, not whole albums.

LB - Yeah, but they're still re-releasing him. I don't know what the problem with Capitol is. Some one's got to wake 'em up. Prod 'em a little bit.

JC - Well, you know what. The most recent Martin Denny re-issue was on Rhino Records. They have a really good one--there's some 20 songs on it. Maybe Rhino would, uhh...

LB - I talked to them once and they said, "Oh, yes, we know you work very well. And then he said something else; I don't know what. And then that was it.

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