George Cates (1911-2002) is best known for his role with the Lawrence Welk orchestra and TV show. Beginning in 1957, Cates was arranger and musical director for the show, which meant he conducted the orchestra in rehearsals.
At Welk's request Cates later conducted the orchestra on camera and stayed with the program until it ended in 1982.
Cates did manage to put out a few records under his own name including a fine album of exotica, Polynesian Percussion (Dot, 1961). What made this album unique was the use of a Novachord, played by Buddy Cole.
The Novachord was the first commercially available synthesizer and was put into production by the Hammond Organ Company in 1938. The first instrument was delivered to U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt in 1940 but the 500-pound behemoth failed to find much of a market. World War II halted production in 1942 and no more Novachords were ever produced. Less than 200 of the more than one thousand instruments manufactured are believed to have survived.
The Novachord was used on movie and TV soundtracks, often in horror and science fiction (House of Frankenstein and the Outer Limits TV show are two examples) and it certainly gives an odd and somewhat unsettling dimension to Polynesian Percussion.
Alvino Rey is the steel guitarist on the album and Larry Bunker and Milt Holland are among the percussionists.
I don't believe Polynesian Percussion has had a CD release. There are a couple of download releases floating about but these appear to be of rather dubious origin. The best sounding one is available here. Vinyl LPs appear to be fairly easy to come by and aren't expensive.
Alvino Rey and the percussionists get a chance to shine on the George Cates version of Hawaiian War Chant.