Born in America in 1922, Takeshi “Tak” Shindo was a Japanese American musician, composer and arranger best known for his prominence in the world of exotica music. Active throughout the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, his main instruments were the clarinet and koto, but his musical talents extended into lots of other realms as well.
Tak Shindo also wrote and lectured on Japanese music as well as directing and composing music for various TV shows and films, including Gunsmoke, Sayonara, The Ed Sullivan Show and Wagon Train. He was a collector of Japanese instruments and infused these sounds and influences into his albums as blends of eastern and western musical styles and instrumentation poured out over his many compositions.
It has been written that he is possibly most remembered for his exotica albums, which he released from 1958 to 1962. Included in these albums were his debut full-length, Mganga! The Primitive Sounds of Tak Shindo (1958), Brass and Bamboo (1959) and Accent on Bamboo (1960). Not only did he record a series of exotica albums, but he also released several records in Japan during the mid-1960s that blended American and Japanese musical traditions. His birth place and heritage served him well, for he drew upon both elements and devised what became a unique sound of his own. Shindo once recalled what attracted him to Exotica, stating that, “Everyone is looking for a style. So in my case, I decided being Oriental, I had something I should draw upon and so I decided to go ‘exotic sound.'”
Mombasa Love Song is a wonderous, crazy feast of delights!!! It’s classic exotica at its finest but the Oriental flecks adds another sonic dimension, bringing new tastes and flavours – this literally adds the exotic to exotica! The song is taken from Shindo’s debut album, Mganga! The Primitive Sounds of Tak Shindo,, which was to be his first foray into the exotica genre! Exploring the primal rhythms of African music, influences from Afro-Cuban jazz are also woven into the bewitching mix, and its no wonder music critic Jason Ankeny (All Music Guide) described the record as “vibrant and intoxicating, with a rhythmic intensity quite uncommon for its era. For an artificial experience, it packs a genuine wallop!”
Mganga! is probably one of the bet known albums in the exotica genre and has been called “Shindo’s orchestral fantasy of Africa“. This music truly does deserve every bit of praise it receives!!! Listen above and if you fancy hearing the rest of the album, you can do that here.