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Net echt in Egypte

May 14, 2011

the music of cleopatra on the nile (mount vernon music lp, 1964) album

Cool 1960 cash-in lp on the popularity of the Cleopatra character – probably done in the wake of the 1963 movie starring the late Elizabeth Taylor. The concept for these so-called “exploito records” is simple: rush something into the marketplace in the hope that you can profit from a current popularity of a random phenomenon. There are no players or composers listed on this lp. Usually not a problem with exploito lp’s, since the sounds on the record are often based on what the producer thinks will “hit” with the audience – concepts like creativity and/or authenticity are of no importance when trying to cash in!

Something’s up with  “The music of Cleopatra on the Nile” however: it’s really pretty good, and i for one am curious as to which (American) players were able to sound this fiery and eastern in 1964. People like Yusef Lateef, Ahmed Abdul Malik and John Coltrane were all exploring Eastern themes back then, but had a high output rate under their own name on regular jazz labels and therefore no reason to appear on what was probably an underpaid job. Some sites mention the possibility of Sun Ra appearing on this album. I have my doubts about that, but his biography suggests circumstances that leave room for speculation…

All speculation aside, i’ve grown to really like this album – give it a spin and listen for yourselves.

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