Review by Frankie Hagan
The beauty of the instrumental is that there are no words. Think about that: no words. Without verbal binding to the music, mood is allowed to prevail. Mood, idea, emotion, and ambiance. And then reflection. That’s the genius of the Martini Kings and their new release, Intoxicating Sounds (SwingOMatic Records).
The Martini Kings have been a well-used cocktail band in California for some time, dispensing retro classics from the ’40s to the ’60s. Though the music is great background fodder, don’t be fooled: This is a marketable dance album for a number of rhythms.
As you imbibe the proffered tracks, you can almost picture yourself sitting at the corner table tracing the rim of your glass with a finger and lost in thought. It just doesn’t get any more reflective. The sublime sounds are generated by vibes, bass and drums (with a bit of guitar and sax). The opening track, “Bags and Trane,” is lovely smooth lindy or foxtrot material, whereas “The Days Of Wine And Roses” is an ethereal slow mambo or fast rumba (or a bossa nova), and “Water Melon Man” treads that groovy line of cha-cha. This reviewer’s personal favorites for ambiance or dance include a great lounge rendition of “Green Onions,” and a traveling more uptempo take on “Fly Me To The Moon.”
Swingin’ lounge enthusiasts or traditional ballroom dancers looking for a few new cuts will all be happy with this album, either for mood or for dance possibilities. Those who think vibes are only prevalent in elevator music might want to look for jazzy ensembles that select other instrumentation. Cocktails should come in several varieties, after all, and the Martini Kings always provide extra olives.