Music: Mood Merchant

A conch shell wailed, the conga drums thump-thumped, the bamboo sticks clattered. The four men on stage were constantly on the move—clacking wooden blocks, scratching a corrugated gourd, flailing away at Chinese gongs, weaving rhythms that were insistent, sinuous and hypnotic. Occasionally, when the spirit moved them, they barked like seals or whooped like cranes. The happy audience at Chicago's Edgewater Beach Hotel rattled the rafters whooping back.

Many a stereo bug could recognize the sounds immediately—and name the man who was making them. At 29, Arthur Lyman and his group of Hawaiian...

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