Posted on January 31st, 2014 3 comments
Swing back to a rehearsal hall in New York City, 1943. Those words, or something close to them were very probably spoken by the young bandleader as he coaxed his musicians into playing the lilting, modulating melody with a silky smooth finesse that would become part of the band’s signature style. The tune: Eager Beaver. The band: Artistry in Rhythm. The leader: Stan Kenton.
“Eager Beaver” was a sophisticated, swinging “riff tune” that featured Kenton on solo piano, engulfed in a true jazz orchestration that set the band apart from the traditional big band sounds of Miller, Dorsey, Shaw and Goodman. It was a hit – Kenton’s first big one – with growling tenor sax solo by Red Dorris and a crazy, loud and high-reaching trumpet section. The song would become so popular that it would be part of the Kenton songbook until his death in 1979. A sleeker, cleaner, definitive version was recorded in 1956 featuring Maynard Ferguson leading those high trumpet notes, and Vido Musso laying down the swingin’ tenor solo.
“Eager Beaver” laid the roots for Kenton’s “Progressive Jazz” style. Kenton and the band’s style was influential among musicians in the modern jazz, bop, west coast jazz and other styles that were forming in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. While Kenton’s style and sound progressed, Eager Beaver remained an important and steady chart in the Kenton library.
One of the things that always intrigued me about this tune was how flawlessly the arrangement combines the sounds of the saxes, trumpets and bones against a solid rhythm section. But the big things for me are 1) the tenor solo, and 2) the modulating ending.
The tenor sax solo was kick-ass before the term kick-ass was coined. The 1943 tenor sax solo had a growling, modern sound that was at least 10 years ahead of its time, forming the basics of what would become the Rhythm & Blues – and then Rock ’n’ Roll sounds of the 1950s sax players. The 1956 version by Vido Musso went a step further, being cleaner, more sophisticated and unique in tone and composition.
Now, the ending, that’s another thing altogether. As a young musician I tried desperately to get a copy of the arrangement to see how the modulations were written. But this was back in the 1980s, before the world was laid at our fingertips with the World Wide Web. I tried like hell to figure it out by ear, but it was beyond my ability.
A few weeks ago, on a whim, out of the blue, I typed “Stan Kenton Eager Beaver” into the eBay search box. Hot damn, Sam…this arrangement featured here came up for sale, cheap. I got it, of course.
Those of you who can read music can check out the Tenor and Alto sheets below. You can see how each verse at the end steps up, integrating with the next verse in such a fantabulous way that that the listener doesn’t even realize what is happening…they just know they are hearing something cool.
For those of you who don’t follow sticks (notes), the best way I can explain what’s happening is that at the end, the melody “steps up” a note each verse, but in such a way that the last note of the first verse becomes blends in with the second, stepped up verse so you don’t even realize there’s been a modulation. Crazy, sophisticated jazz, man.
Below are two videos of the riff. The first is a “soundy” from the early 1940s, giving you an idea of the original version of the song (it sounds like it’s been sped up a little in the video.) The second is the 1956 version, clean and cool, much closer to the way Kenton would have sounded live.
The 1956 version of Eager Beaver
Below here are the sheet music pages from the 1944 Robins Music arrangement. Follow along with the saxes at the end to dig the modulation.
You can see that his sheet music was well used; someone even added their own section at the tenor sax solo (underneath are the chord progressions for the tenor solo).
This sheet music is also great because it features several ads to buy more sheet music. Talk about a captive audience!
There seems to be a cocktail recipe for every song title ever recorded. Eager Beaver has not been spared, but the recipe is kind of dull compared to the complexity of the song (It’s also probable that the cocktail was invented independently of the song, and refers to the person eager to complete a task, or a chick who is hot to trot, which no doubt is whom the song is named after.)
– 2 oz rum
– 3 oz coffee liqueur
– 1 oz orange liqueur
Mix everything together in a shaker with ice; shake and pour over cubes in a highball glass. To “jazz it up” a bit, use spiced rum, and garnish with an orange slice and cherry. Good stuff.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this jazzy trip down a road that doesn’t get nearly as much travel as it should. I hope I opened some of you up to a cool tune that was recorded at the very start of the modern jazz era, and that it will inspire you to check out more by the master musician, Stan Kenton.
-Tiki Chris reporting from the listening room at Tiki Lounge Talk
Posted on January 17th, 2014 No comments
3 oz. HPNOTIQ
1-2 oz. Citrus Flavored Rum
Splash of Fresh Lime Juice
Splash of Club Soda and garnish with a pineapple
Pour the HYPNNOTIQ over ice in a stemmed rocks glass are highball glass. Gently add the rum and stir. Splash in the lime juice and club soda. Rim with raw sugar if you’d like, and garnish with a nice slab of pineapple.
This simple recipe not only looks good, but it also shares most of its name with one of our favorite Martin Denny tunes, Hypnotique. Play the tune while you’re mixing the drink, and it will taste even better.
Here’s Martin Denny…
-Tiki Chris P. reporting from the Tiki Bar at Tiki Lounge Talk, the Blounge for swingin’ retro hipsters.
Posted on October 4th, 2013 No comments
#IECD is a day to celebrate with our favorite Tiki drinks. It doesn’t matter where you are, whether at home or at a Tiki bar, just mix up some rum and fresh juices and top with a pineapple slice and a paper umbrella! (Where appropriate. Don’t put a paper umbrella on a Jet Pilot, for instance 😉
Yours truly, Tiki Chris, started International Exotic Cocktail Day a few years ago as a way to bring my world-wide Tiki friends together, without actually getting together. You don’t have to do anything special…a Rum Swizzle in your living room is fine; or you can go all-out and plan a happy hour with friends at The Mai Kai or Trader Vic’s.
Enjoy the day/night with a Tiki Cocktail!
Here’s a few drink recipes in case you decide to host your own #IECD party at home. For more great recipes visit Tiki Lounge Talk’s Tiki Drinks! page.
Mai Tai, from Don the Beachcomber:
• 1 oz Rhum Clément VSOP Martinique rum
• 1 oz Appleton Estate Extra dark Jamaican rum
• 1 oz fresh lime juice
• 1/2 oz Orange Curacao.
• 1/4 oz Simple Syrup.
• 1/2 oz Orgeat Syrup
Add to a shaker with crushed ice and shake it up, baby. Pour over rocks in a Tiki mug or Old Fashioned glass and garnish with mint sprig, so that you sense the mint as you take in the drink. An umbrella is mandatory, unless you have a fresh tropical flower to replace.
oz Light Puerto Rican Rum (Bacardi Silver, Meyers White)
1 oz Dark Jamaican Rum (Myers Dark, Coruba Dark, Appleton Estate)
1 oz Demerara Rum
3/4 oz Fresh Lime Juice
3/4 oz Fresh Grapefruit Juice
3/4 oz Honey, warmed
Club Soda Shake everything but the soda up in a shaker and strain over rocks in a tall Tiki mug. Top it off with the soda and give it a quick stir with an appropriate swizzle stick (a flamingo, Tiki head, or something vintage. Don’t be lazy and use one of those plain plastic ones with the little ball on the end and nothing else). Garnish this masterpiece with a combination of lime, pineapple and cherry on a sword, and if you can, add an orchid. Fantabulous, man!
Tiki Galore (A Tiki Chris original!)
The Tiki Galore
1 oz. Amaretto
1 oz. Dark Rum
1/2 oz. Triple Sec
2 oz. Orange Juice
1/2 tspn powdered sugar
Pour everything into a shaker with shaved ice, shake, and strain over ice cubes in a tiki glass. Garnish with everything tropical-looking you can find. You can make it a little more tart by squeezing in some lemon, a little sweeter with more sugar. Drink up! It ain’t bad, and will knock you on your ass! Cheers!
8 ounces of silver Rum (personally I prefer dark rum, and it gives this concoction a richer taste)
4 ounces Brandy (used something decent, not that $11 a bottle junk!)
8 ounces of orange juice (fresh squeezed is best)
4 ounces of lemon juice (you can add a little more if you want it more tart)
3 ounces orgeat syrup
2 cups of crushed ice (plus extra cubes)
Mix up everything except the ice in a big bowl, bucket, tub, whirlpool, whatever you’ve got. Toss the crushed ice in a blender for a few seconds, and add about half to your Scorpion or Volcano Bowl. Fill with the booze, add in a few cubes. Garnish with floating flowers and use those long-assed straws to drink it up. This big bowl-o-rama is best enjoyed with a couple of hip friends, some Martin Denny playing on the hi-fi, and candlelight or Tiki torches.
You’ll have to keep tasting this stuff before you pour it in for you guests, as the balance can be tricky. Too much orgeat syrup and it will be overly sweet. Too much lemon and you’ll pucker up like a duck. Fresh juices make a much better, more authentic-tasting drink (always) and will impress your friends. If you have a Volcano Bowl, add an ounce of 151 Rum to the volcano and light it up!
We’ll be heading to The Mai Kai in Fort Lauderdale tonight. I’m planning on a few Jet Pilots and Mai Tais, and a stretcher to get me out of there. Cheers!
-Tiki Chris, reporting from behind the bar at Tiki Lounge Talk
Posted on September 6th, 2013 1 comment
There are two sides to the exotic or “Tiki drink” story.
One, which is most accepted, is that in order to be a true Tiki bar drink, the recipe must follow (as closely as possible) the original recipes from drinks created from around the turn of the 19th to 20th century, to the 1960s. Anything else is not “authentic”.
The other side states that exotic Tiki drinks are always evolving, as mixologists use their ingenuity to create new and exciting cocktails in the Tiki spirit.
With that in mind, this week we are featuring a cool new drink found on Savuer.com:
The Barbacoa Cocktail
From their site:Julian Cox, a bartender at the Los Angeles restaurant Rivera, gave us the recipe for this colorful cocktail, which takes its smoky flavor from puréed chipotle chiles in adobo and its sweetness from ginger syrup. To make your own ginger syrup, boil 1/3 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water with one 2” piece of peeled and smashed ginger for 5 minutes. Strain and refrigerate.Sounds good, huh? Peppers in a drink? Here’s the recipe:1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
1/4 oz. agave nectar
1/4 oz. ginger syrup
1 tsp. puréed canned chipotle in adobe
1/2 lime, quartered lengthwise
2 oz. mezcal or white tequila
1 strip red bell pepper, for garnish
1 small piece beef jerky, for garnish1. In a cocktail shaker, combine lemon juice, agave nectar, ginger syrup, chipotle purée, and lime wedges. Using a muddler or a wooden spoon, muddle ingredients.
2. Add 1 cup cubed ice and pour in mezcal; stir. Transfer mixture to a cocktail glass and garnish with bell pepper and beef jerky. Yes, that said beef jerky.Now, I haven’t tried this drink yet, but I’m guessing it’s pretty crazy in a good way. I’m planning on trying it this weekend, but if any of you kats or kittens tries it out, please leave me a comment on how it turned out!International Exotic Cocktail Day 2013Don’t forget, this year’s International Exotic Cocktail Day is Friday, October 4th! No matter where you are, take a minute to enjoy an exotic Tiki drink, to celebrate our love of the good life! Join the Facebook Group for info, events and more recipes!-Tiki Chris reporting from the bar at Tiki Lounge Talk, the B-lounge for swingin’ Tikiphiles and vintage hipsters.
Posted on August 15th, 2013 2 comments
Yes, there is a “day” for everything…but when there’s a day for something as important as RUM, you know damned well there will be a post about it at The Tiki Lounge! A quick search of teh interwebs doesn’t give us much info on the origin of this fantabulous day, but who cares!
Ok, first of all, a very nice person (Christine) representing Captain Morgan’s Rum sent me some very tasty-looking recipes. I haven’t tried them yet (saving them for Rum Day) but I dig Captain, and I’m pretty sure these are going to be winners. I’ll list them at the end of this post.
Second, I can’t help but bring back one of my favorite original recipes,
The Pirate’s Wench, Your Weekend Tiki Bar Cocktail
I came up with this a few years ago while experimenting at the Tiki Bar on the lanai. It’s a twist on a Cuba Libre, and it will knock your socks off!
1 oz strong spiced Rum (Captain Morgan Black, Sailor Jerry, Kracken work nicely)
1 oz Malibu Coconut Rum
1 oz Dark Rum (I prefer Meyer’s)
3 drops bitters
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
sprinkle of nutmeg
Start with a shaker of ice, add the three rums, bitter, and vanilla. Shake it up, baby. Strain into a large Tiki mug filled with ice. Liquor should fill mug about half way. Fill with Coke, squeeze in juice of 1/4 lime, and two shakes of nutmeg, stir. Top with a little more nutmeg and lime wedge. Damned good grog! It you like it sweet, add a little pineapple juice to taste. If you like it super strong, add a 151 floater, if you dare, and call it the Drunken Wench. Avast! And May Ye Enjoy The Captain’s Original Concoction !
Now for MORE Cocktails…those cool drinks from Captain Morgan…
PORT ROYAL PUNCH (Serves 25)
2 46-oz. cans of pineapple juice
3 cups mango juice
1 750 mL bottle of Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum
4.5 oz. grenadine
3 oranges sliced thinly and quartered
3 cans of Sprite for fizz
In a punch bowl or large serving vessel, add the above ingredients and stir. Serve over ice in a punch glass – or glass of your choosing.
BLACK & GINGER TEA
· 3 oz. Ginger Tisane (tea base)
· 1 oz. Captain Morgan Black Spiced Rum
· 1 Tablespoon agave nectar (or sweetener of choice)
· 1/4 oz. lemon juice
Directions: Brew tea base or tea bag in 6-8 oz. of water. Brew hot for four minutes and flash-chill, or cold for one hour. Shake with Captain Morgan Black Spiced Rum, sweetener and lemon juice, and pour into rocks glass over ice. Created by Owl’s Brew <http://theowlsbrew.com/> .
· 1 oz. Captain Morgan Sherry Oak Finish Spiced Rum
· 1 oz. Grand Marnier® Liqueur
· 1/2 oz. lime juice
· 2 dashes of bitters
Directions: Add all ingredients to an ice-filled rocks glass. Stir to blend and garnish with lime wedge. Created by Owl’s Brew <http://theowlsbrew.com/> .
Cheers, kids! -Tiki Chris, reporting from the Tiki Bar on the lanai
PS: Don’t forget, Friday, October 4th is International Exotic Cocktail Day! Watch for details…