Released in 1964, BAJA MARIMBA BAND (LP/SP 104) was only the fifth album issued by A&M Records since its debut two years earlier. The LP peaked at #88 on Billboard's 200 chart.
Julius Wechter, founder and mallet-wielding frontman of BMB, was previously a member of Martin Denny's exotica cocktail music group. In 1959, Denny's birdcall laden cover of Les Baxter's "Quiet Village" peaked at #4 on Billboard's Pop chart.
To get the Bajas firmly established, A&M's Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss produced these sessions, with Herb and Wechter arranging.
"Back Door," a relaxed set opener with a raucous jazz band break, sets the stage for what follows. Julius on marimba and a flautist play in unison and also harmonize on a medium paced "Maria Elena." The cha-cha-ish "Pedro's Porch" echoes Wechter's exotica days. It's a fine track with mariachi touches and solos for a couple of players. On "Baja Nights," a mixed chorus is spread across the soundstage, with a soprano at far right hitting some remarkably high notes. Mandolin and cranked-up electric bass dominate their mellow cover of "Charade."
"Acapulco 1922," a tune originally on Alpert's THE LONELY BULL single and album, alternates between vibrato sax and a loud neo-Dixieland band complete with oompahing tuba. Like a sluggish clock, a woodblock is struck on every 4th beat of "Maria's First Rose," a quiet song.Read more ›
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Once upon a time, there was a record label called A&M Records. It had been founded by Herb Alpert & Jerry Moss with a single and and album called THE LONELY BULL. Looking for ways to expand the fledgling label, Herb turned to his studio marimba player and the two invented the Baja Marimba Band; those same two arranged a bunch of songs and Herb and Jerry Moss produced this first album.
Though it didn't chart very high, the Baja Marimba Band would go on to be very popular on the TV variety show circuit. They'd do their comedic "shtick" of being a sloppy, lazy bunch, but whenever the music started, it was a superior effort all the way.
This first album, simply called THE BAJA MARIMBA BAND, was only released on CD once for a very brief period of time in Japan as part of the 25th Anniversary celebration of A&M's founding (catalog D32Y3555). It is today, almost impossible to find. I myself searched for more than a decade before finding one at a reasonable price in the marketplace here at Amazon. The disc, case, inserts and obi strip were all included and in perfect shape.
It would be wonderful if the album - and indeed all Baja Marimba Band albums - were widely released in the CD format.