Essence Of Ray Conniff
- 's Wonderful (from 's
- Young At Heart (from Young
- I'll See You In My Dreams (from Young
- Midnight Lace, Part 1 (from Happiness
- Memories Are Made Of This (from Memories
Are Made Of This)
- Somewhere My Love (from Somewhere
- What The World Needs Now (from It
Must Be Him)
- Up, Up And Away (from It
Must Be Him)
- (Where Do I Begin) Love Story (from Love
- I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing (from I'd
Like To Teach The World To Sing)
This compilation was released as part of "The Essence Of" series
in 1993 (Columbia/Legacy CK 53574).
Compilation Producer: Didier C. Deutsch
Digitally remastered by Chris Herles at Sony Music Studios, New York
Product Manager: Penny Armstrong
A&R Consultant: Tony Natelli
Art Director: Allen Weinberg
Computer Graphics: Kim Gaucher
Packaging Coordinator: Hope Chasin
CD Liner notes:
In the field of popular music, successful
instrumentalists are often considered a rarity. But as if the odds against him
were not enough, Ray Conniff marked an entire generation with his music, playing,
of all things, the trombone, an instrument seldom associated with solo careers.
That he succeeded so well is a testimony to his deft understanding of what people
wanted to listen to when he emerged on the music scene in 1956.
Born in Attleboro, Massachusetts, in November, 1916, Conniff received his early
musical training from his father, a trombone player. After finishing school,
he moved to Boston and began working with various local "society"
bands, learning his trade as an arranger with these and other more swinging
outfits. Following stints with Dan Murphy, in 1934, and Hank Biagini, in 1936,
Conniff joined the great Bunny Berigan in 1937, and subsequently Bob Crosby
with whom he stayed through 1940.
In the heyday of the big bands, there was no dearth of trombone players, but
because he could also write snappy arrangements, Conniff managed to make a name
for himself and stand out from the crowd. In 1941, he formed his first group,
but when success eluded him he quickly returned to the fold with better known
band leaders, notably Vaughan Monroe, and Artie Shaw, whom he followed in the
Navy. While with Shaw, he arranged "Prelude In C-Sharp" and "
After the war, Conniff became an active member of the Harry James band, notably
contributing many riff arrangements for James' easy-going type of music. But
the big band era was coming to an end, and by 1948, Conniff found himself increasingly
relying on his talents as an arranger rather than as a player. In August, 1954,
he went to work as a staff trombonist for NBC, and the following year signed
with Columbia Records as arranger-conductor for some of the label's pop vocalists,
like Guy Mitchell, Rosemary Clooney, Frankie Laine, Johnnie Ray, and Marty Robbins,
When Mitch Miller, then head of A&R, asked him to score "Band Of Gold"
for a new album by Don Cherry, Conniff wrote an introduction to the tune using
a vocal chorus. The novelty caught on, and, as a result, the song became a million-seller.
In June, 1956, Conniff entered the studio to record his first album as a leader,
and applying to himself the formula that had worked so well for Don Cherry,
recorded " 'S Wonderful." His tingling arrangements and exuberant
rhythms turned the tune into a huge hit, and introduced what became known as
the "Ray Conniff sound," in which the singers often are heard either
playing along with the other instruments or contrasting them with lines of their
own in what amounts to a musical dialogue.
Released in 1956, 'S Wonderful stayed on the charts for nine months,
and paved the way for a string of other albums such as 'S Marvelous (released
in November, 1957) and 'S Awful Nice (released in May, 1958), all which
relied on the same inventive formula.
In 1959, Conniff decided to move out of the studio and into the live concert
arena, bringing along with him the sophisticated sound mixing that had ensured
his success. His first appearance, at the Santa Monica auditorium promptly sold
out, a feat duplicated shortly after at the Hollywood Bowl where he and his
group performed in front of 19,000 people.
Undaunted by the onslaught of rock 'n' roll and changing tastes, Conniff went
on recording albums throughout the 1960s and '70s, appearing in concerts all
over the world, and making new converts to his infectious brand of music. One
reason for his perennial appeal may be seen in the fact that he wisely chose
to upgrade his repertoire, switching from the great Tin Pan Alley standards
to contemporary hits by today's best pop writers.
Indicative of this, this compilation contains some of the tunes that kept Conniff's
name in the limelight during these years. Beginning with " 'S Wonderful,"
it includes some standards, such as "I'll See You In My Dreams" and
"Memories Are Made Of This," as well as new compositions, like "Somewhere
My Love (Lara's Theme)" (a #9 hit), "What The World Needs Now,"
"Up, Up And Away," "(Where Do I Begin) Love Story," and
"I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing (In Perfect Harmony)."
Today, 36 years and 88 albums after he made his debut as a leader, Conniff continues
to inspire the world with his unique brand of music. Only last year, he released
a new album for the label, 'S Always Conniff, proving that he had lost
none of his appeal. In a field where instrumentalists are not known to last
long, this is saying quite a lot about the man with the happy beat and the infectious
Didier C. Deutsch
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