POLYNESIA – THE BUDDY COLLETTE SEPTET
Catalogue number JBH082LP
BUDDY COLLETTE, flute, clarinet
GENE CIPRIANO, oboe, English horn, bass clarinet
GERALD WILSON, trumpet
JUSTIN DiTULLIO, cello
AL VIOLA, guitar, banjo
RED CALLENDER, bass, tuba
EARL PALMER, drums
ED LUSTGARDEN, cello
BILLY BEAN replaces Justin DiTullio and Al Viola on "Flight", "Gaugin" and "Singapore Sling."
TABOO (Lecusona - Stillman) – 2:20
FLIGHT (Collette – Groeg) – 3:20
Marni Nixon, Soprano
GAUGIN (Collette – Groeg) – 3:20
Marni Nixon, Soprano
SINGAPORE SLING (Collette) – 3:30
POLYNESIAN SUITE (Collette – Groeg)
Tennin – 1:18
Barbarian – 1:34
Mistress – 1:18
Anchorage – 1:14
Corpse - :47
Sleeping Gypsy – 1:06
Room With Skies – 2:00
JAPANESE SUITE (Collette – Groeg) – 5:20
Side Two narrated by Robert Sorrels
This is without doubt the rarest of all exotic LP. And, dare I say, one of the most extraordinary. Issued originally in 1959 it seems to be the only LP ever pressed on the Music & Sound label out of Pheonix, Arizona.
The album was commissioned by the label, and brings together two worlds: the jazz genius of Buddy Collette with the academic oriental studies and translations of A.I Groeg.
Little can be found of A.I. Groeg, for all I know Music & Sound was his, or her company. But before the LP was recorded A.I Groeg had translated several Polynesian and Japanese manuscripts. These form the basis of the dark narrations and lyrics across the album.
Sublime vocalist Marni Nixon (the voice of Maria in West Side Story) was brought in for two songs and fledgling actor Robert Sorrels (now a convicted murderer) supplied the strangely unsettling and almost otherworldly narration.
The original LP states that "Buddy was given carte blanche with the material. After six months of composing and studying with the voice soloists, the results were two instrumentals and two songs on side one, and tone poems on side two. The latter represents a new musical genre. They are musical descriptions, preceded by spoken lines, and they become tone poems or musical illustrations inspired by the islanders, their words and marvelous simplicity. The mood is complete, yet hovers strangely in the air like a vague tantalizing dream."
I’d first heard the album in about 2010 on a bizarre bootlegged CD (edited strangely with exotic library music), and spent the next few years desperately trying to find an original pressing. About one copy turns up a year, it seems to be far rarer than the legendary Eden's Island album and occupies a similar musical space. But this has a little more death.
Heaven knows what new listeners will think of Polynesia, but it sure is a dark and weird musical trip. One I feel everyone should take.
Thanks for listening
Now, since I issued this LP, more weird info has come to light. Someone from the Trunk mailing list emailed me. He is a fan of the guitarist, Billy Bean. In the Billy Bean autobiography he writes about Polynesia. This is possibly the only time the LP has ever been written about, apart from here and now. Anyway it seems as though A.I. Groeg is all made up. According to an interview with Collete in the book, the story was different. The LP producer George Moran was responsible. He wanted to be a big music producer, apparently drank heavily, and also wrote a lot. He was a rich guy, a spoilt guy, and certainly not a young guy at the time. He’d already convinced his daughter that the poetry he’d "found" was all by this A.I. Groeg (or possibly A.E. Grove) character. Anyway, Collette who was a friend of Moran was asked to write music to accompany his poetry and according to Collette, "it was strange, so I had to make the music strange. It was sort of dead."
As well as this information, I was sent this clipping about the narrator.