Playlist halp: happy retro instrumental cocktail night?
November 15, 2014 1:23 PM   Subscribe

Anywhere from Dixieland to Penguin Café Orchestra, via Django Reinhardt and something Latin, what musicians/tracks/albums can you suggest for a 4-hour playlist to make a happy, potentially boppable score to a cocktail party? Would be nice to divide it into intro, main and outro parts - but all suggestions are welcome for a fun, refined, vocal-less (or at least mainly so), non-pop soundtrack to a charming, light-hearted evening. (Bonus points if sourceable via Rdio.) Thanks!
posted by progosk to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (17 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Illinois Street Lounge on Soma FM!
posted by ghostbikes at 1:35 PM on November 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Esquivel, Space Age Bachelor Pad Music. Uses uses vocals in his arrangements, but pretty much human-voice-as-another-instrument, not lyrics per se. Seems to be on Rdio as well.
posted by Diablevert at 2:22 PM on November 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

My favorite is Ultra Lounge: Mondo Exotica.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 3:23 PM on November 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Marc Ribot y Los Cubanos Postizos
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 3:30 PM on November 15, 2014

I would respectfully disagree with some of the above suggestions that focus on Esquivel and similar "space-age bachelor pad" music. I like Esquivel as much as the next guy, but most of his stuff is so arch and, moreover, sonically intrusive (what with all the boings, bangs, and "WOW!"s), that it is not really good background music for anything like a civilized cocktail party. I would agree that Esquivel and other space-age bachelor pad stuff can be charming and the genre is definitely light-hearted (which you state that you seek), but I would never use the word "refined" in connection with Esquivel and his kin. It's campy fun; not sophisticated or subtle.

You might want to try the "A Night Out with Verve" CDs that came out in 2000; Amazon appears to still have some for sale. Also, don't discount the value of Cole Porter, the ne plus ultra of 20th Century American sophisticated cocktail music. There are many collections of his tunes out there, particularly those recorded by folks like Blossom Dearie and Anita O'Day that would be just the right touch, I think.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 4:29 PM on November 15, 2014

Some Palm Fabric Orchestra would be a great addition...
posted by 1367 at 5:01 PM on November 15, 2014

Herb Alpert and the Tiajuana Brass, Whipped Cream & Other Delights, The Lonely Bull.

Charlie Hunter Quartet, "Ready, Set, Shango!"
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 5:22 PM on November 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Do you know about the Retro Cocktail Hour? Their playlists should give you a good jumping off point.
posted by god hates math at 8:16 PM on November 15, 2014

The first album from Tipsy should work. You may also want to checkout Senor Coconut.
posted by boilermonster at 11:18 PM on November 15, 2014

posted by Jon Mitchell at 12:32 AM on November 16, 2014

Response by poster: Some wonderful stuff here already - Esquivel was new to me, Tipsy's groovy, but I'll also be going through the less exotica-vibed suggestions - keep'em coming!
posted by progosk at 1:04 AM on November 16, 2014

If you fancy something retro, up-tempo yet backgroundy, try some tracks from Zucherzeit by Cluster - I'd give Caramel or Hollywood a listen. About twenty years more modern with plenty of callbacks, Plaid can spin some quirky, dancable yet delicious cocktail party vibe, like Kortisin or Myopia. Towards the end of the evening, Tonto's Expanding Head Band can cool things down with Timewhys or Tama.

All of the above are non-mainstream and non-intrusive but have that 'haven't I heard that somewhere before?' factor that can just catch at the attention enough to keep things interesting, especially when dropped in at the right point.
posted by Devonian at 3:58 AM on November 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Some wonderful lounge/jazz mixes were featured in the blue awhile back:
High quality ecletic mixtapes by Luanda Baldijão
posted by klarck at 6:53 AM on November 16, 2014

Response by poster: - a fair number of tracks from A Night Out with Verve were a little too down-tempo, but some are just right, thanks!

- the faster of Charlie Hunter's Shango tracks are great (if a little unironic, perhaps).

- Plaid's Myopia yes! Kortisin less so; looking through their catalogue now, though a lot of it seems sort of darker...

- the Luanda B podcasts look really interesting (just an issue that they're not single tracks to build our playlist with).

It's coming together nicely - anything in the Dixieland or Django Reinhardt vein?
posted by progosk at 8:39 AM on November 16, 2014

In the Django vein, there's a French native guitarist who moved to Austin named Olivier Giraud (not to be confused with another guy by the same name). He's been in a series of bands and my wife and I have CDs by two of them, Paris 49 (whom I like more) and 8 1/2 Souvenirs (whom my wife prefers). The latter has more vocals than the former (and I hate the girl singer, which is why I like Paris 49 more) but there's a lot of Django-style guitar. And I assume you've also just investigated Django himself (who has a significant presence in our own cocktail playlist).

There's also a "band" called the Django Reinhardt Festival All-Stars, but I don't know if they have any actual recordings (their tours seem to be consist of whoever's available from a list of REALLY talented people). In general the keywords "Hot Club" or "Gypsy Swing" should help you search in general for that sort of music.

Dunno about Rdio for any of those though.
posted by fedward at 12:03 PM on November 16, 2014

Baden Powell
+2 Moreno Domenico Kassin - Imã (starts a bit slow)
posted by hydrophonic at 8:36 PM on November 16, 2014

Response by poster: Still working on it, but just so as to share back, here's the current playlist on Rdio - best set to random!
posted by progosk at 8:00 AM on November 20, 2014

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