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Robert Drasnin

  • Born 17 November 1927, Charleston, West Virginia

Drasnin deserves a solid spot in the history of exotica for his 1959 album, Voodoo (also released with a different cover as Percussion Exotique), which exemplifies the genre as well as the best of Martin Denny or Les Baxter. Following its release, in fact, he was hired to arrange Denny's Latin Village album. Raised in Los Angeles, Drasnin started as an alto sax player, working with Tommy Dorsey, Les Brown, and other big bands. He later switched to flute and performed with small combos, including Red Norvo's. After the early 1950s, he worked primarily as a studio musician and arranger. He did graduate work in composition at UCLA in the mid-1950s and became an associate conductor of the UCLA Symphony. He eventually became musical director for CBS television, where he scored such shows as "Lost in Space" and "The Wild, Wild West." He and Gerald Fried handled most of the scoring work on "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." after Lalo Schifrin left. Drasnin also scored the films "The Hot Angel," "Picture Mommy Dead," "Ride the Whirlwind," and "The Kremlin Letter." He now teaches film music composition at UCLA and has been rediscovered with the new revival of exotica. He collaborated recently with archivist and arranger Skip Heller and ex-X drummer D.J. Bonebrake to record an album of standards in a film noir style under the title of The Blue Dahlias.

Dionysus Records, which has reissued "Voodoo" on CD on its Bacchus Archives label, has an excellent interview with Robert Drasnin at its website.


  • Voodoo (also released as Percussion Exotique), Tops 9694
  • Voodoo (reissue), Bacchus Archives BA09

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