In its article titled The Lecuona Song, Spaceagepop.com says,
“Taboo” (or “Tabu”–the spellings are interchangeable): F.W. Murnau’s 1930 film of the same name had put the word into the popular vocabulary. A blend (or bastardization, depending on your viewpoint) of documentary and fiction, Murnau’s film was shot on location in Tahiti and was, for many Americans, their first view of the South Pacific.
Tabú (Margarita Lecuona) — The composer was a cousin of the famous Cuban composer and pianist Ernesto Lecuona. Tabú (also recorded as Tabou, Tabu, and Taboo) is a jazz and popular music standard which was first recorded by Cuarteto Machin in 1934.
Margarita Lecuona also wrote the song Babalu, which was popularized in the Latin American world, (according to Wikipedia) by Miguelito Valdés, and in the United States by Desi Arnaz.
Cuarteto Machin — 1934?
The Lecuona Cuban Boys — (as Tabou)B-side of the 78 rpm EMI Columbia single Amapola (catalog numbers: DF 1820, France; F.B. 1273, UK) — recorded, suggests the provider, in Paris in October 1935
The Comedian Harmonists — 1937
– Rudolf Mayreder – Bass
– Roman Cycowski – Baritone
– Harry Frommermann – 3. Tenor / buffo
– Erich A.Collin – 2. Tenor
– Hans Rexeis – 1. Tenor
– Ernst Engel / Fritz Kramer – Pianist
Herbert Ernst Groh — Odeon O-26 304b / mx. Be. 12343, Berlin, 1939
From the description by the video provider:
This video features a beautifully arranged version by the treme[n]dously popular Swiss tenor Herbert Ernst Groh (1906-82) who studied in Milan, Zürich and München and made his first recordings in Italy in the late 1920s. From 1930 onwards he recorded exclusively for the Lindström company. He recorded not only classical parts but also schlager and movie songs. H[i]s enormous popularity led to movie offers as well but Groh failed to make an impact on the big screen.
The video features scenes from “Mandalay” – an American movie from 1933 starring Kay Francis – the Queen of Warner Brothers until the arrival of Bette Davis. This movie was made before the strict production code came into effect.
Max Rumpf mit seinem Tanzorchester, Gesang: Schuricke-Terzett (Schuricke Trio)– Imperial 17256, Aufnahmedatum: Mai 1939
Orchester Theo Reuter
Gesang: Erwin Hartung
Schallplattenvolksverband / Clangor
Matritzennummer: T 4690
Versions by jazz artists include:
Stan Kenton and his Orchestra — recorded 1944?
Johnny Smith (guitar), Stan Getz (tenor sax), Sanford Gold (piano), Eddie Safranski (bass), Don Lamond (drums)
Yusef Lateef Quintet — recorded at Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, 11 October 1957; released in 1959 on the LP Other Sounds
Morris Nanton — Morris Nanton: piano, Al Beldini: drums, Norman Edge: bass — released on the 1965 album Something We’ve Got
Taboo was also favored by Exotica exponents:
Les Baxter — from the 1955 album Caribbean Moonlight
From Wikipedia’s Arthur Lyman profile:
After graduating from McKinley High School [in Honolulu] in 1951, he put music on hold to work as a desk clerk at the Halekulani hotel. It was there in 1954 that he met pianist Martin Denny, who, after hearing him play, offered the 21-year old a spot in his band. Initially wary, Lyman was persuaded by the numbers: he was making $280 a month as a clerk, and Denny promised more than $100 a week. Denny had been brought to Hawaii in January on contract by Don the Beachcomber, and stayed in Hawaii to play nightly in the Shell Bar at the Hawaiian Village. Other members of his band were Augie Colon on percussion and John Kramer on string bass. Denny, who had traveled widely, had collected numerous exotic instruments from all over the world and liked to use them to spice up his jazz arrangements of popular songs. The stage of the Shell Bar was very exotic, with a little pool of water right outside the bandstand, and rocks and palm trees growing around. One night Lyman had “had a little to drink,” and when they began playing the theme from Vera Cruz, Lyman let out a few bird calls. “The next thing you know, the audience started to answer me back with all kinds of weird cries. It was great.” These bird calls became a trademark of Lyman’s sound.
When Denny’s “Quiet Village” was released on record in 1957 it became a smash hit, igniting a national mania for all things Hawaiian, including tiki idols, exotic drinks, aloha shirts, luaus, straw hats and Polynesian-themed restaurants like Trader Vic’s.
That same year, Lyman split off from Denny to form his own group, continuing in much the same style but even more flamboyant. [read more]
Arthur Lyman — from the 1958 album Taboo (subtitled “The Exotic Sounds of Arthur Lyman”), HiFi Records SR806 (Stereo), HiFi Records R806 (Mono)
Marty Wilson and his Orchestra — from the 1959 album Jun’gala, Warner Bros. B 1326 (Mono), Warner Bros. WS 1326 (Stereo)
The Del-Tones — Storm Records S-983 — date unknown, probably late 1950s
The Surfmen— from The Sounds of Exotic Island, 1960
About the Surfmen, Spaceagepop.com says,
The closest thing in exotica to a super group. 101 Strings creator and Somerset label chief D.L. Miller, acting on his always-reliable trend-following instincts, pulled together a group of top Hollywood session men, including Jack “Mr. Bongo” Constanzo, Alvino Rey on console guitar, Irv Cottler on drums, Emil Richards on vibes, the late great Jimmy Rowles on piano, and Paul Horn on sax (who would later record in such authentically exotic settings as the Pyramids and the Taj Mahal). He gave them the task of producing a quickie knock-off of the then-popular Martin Denny and Arthur Lyman sound.
They appear to have taken on the challenge with enthusiasm, taking more than a few opportunities to poke fun at Denny/Lyman trademarks like bird calls (the Surfmen’s are possibly the phoniest ever put on vinyl) and savage jungle noises. Their material reads like a primer of exotica music: “Quiet Village”; “Taboo”; Moon of Manakoora; “Hawaiian War Chant”; Fire Goddess; Orchid Lagoon; Jungle Romance; Bali Hai. [read more]
The La Bombas — New Teenage Records single NT 5000, b/w The Tantrum, issued in 1961; the group is described by The Exotica Project as a “Twin-Cities teen combo”
Ted Auletta and his Orchestra — from the 1962 album Exotica
Ângela Maria — date unknown