Easy Listening Essentials

Easy Listening Essentials

There's a certain comfort in music that sounds familiar even if you've never heard it before. In the mid-’40s, WWII soldiers returned from the South Pacific with a taste for the music they’d been exposed to there, as reflected in the sunny, humid vibrations of artists like Martin Denny. Jazz musicians like saxophonist Stan Getz gorgeously mixed João Gilberto's Brazilian bossa nova with California cool. And Herb Alpert topped '60s pop charts as the (one-man) Tijuana Brass. Composers like Nino Rota (Federico Fellini's longtime provider of fabulous filmic festivity) and Argentine-American Lalo Schifrin (known for his catchy action scores) can both be found sipping Mai Tais under easy listening's big tent. Usually instrumental, the genre embraces the accordion-and-guitar minimalism of '40s nightclub veterans The Three Suns as much as it does Percy Faith's sumptuous orchestral arrangements, which repurposed pop hits as golden mood music.

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