Red Norvo: Dance of the Octopus


Dance of the Octopus


Red Norvo (marimba)


Dance of the Octopus (Hep 1044)

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Red Norvo (marimba), Benny Goodman (bass clarinet), Dick McDonough (guitar), Artie Bernstein (bass).

Composed by Red Norvo


Recorded: New York, November 21, 1933


Rating: 93/100 (learn more)

Music, declared Surrealist Manifesto author André Breton, is "the most deeply confusing of all art forms." He might've been referring to "Dance of the Octopus." After hearing a test pressing, a Brunswick Records exec manually shredded Red Norvo's contract. This was an understandable reaction to the strangest jazz track theretofore recorded. If we define surrealism as a phantasmagoria of irrational juxtapositions, then "Dance of the Octopus" is surrealist jazz. As wonderfully wacky as Hollywood's early 1930s black-&-white animated shorts (to which it could easily be a soundtrack), this quirky submersible by jazz's primo malleteer is an experience not be missed.

Reviewer: Alan Kurtz

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