Album compilation and annotation by Mel Mayer. Sony Music Entertainment 2001.
Special thanks to Chris Bent and Sarah Reardon, Strategic Marketing, Sony Music Entertainment
Remastered by Toby Learmont at Sony Music Mastering, Huntingwood using High Density Technology.
Cover Photo: Tina Homer. Designed by Sony Music Design
CD liner notes:
Ray Conniff was born in Attleboro, Massachusetts on 6 November, 1916. Unlike Percy Faith and Andre Kostelanetz, Ray Conniff made his name as a trombonist in "The Big Band Era" which had its heyday from the 1930s until the late 1940s. During that time such names as Artie Shaw, Bunny Berrigan, Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman were dominating record sales around the world. Ray Conniff featured as trombonist with Bunny Berrigan, Bob Crosby, Art Hodes and Artie Shaw.
Ray had undertaken a correspondence course to study musical arranging and at that he was quite successful. He was contracted to arrange for many of the "Big Bands." During World War II, Ray had joined the Army and upon his return to the USA he worked with the Harry James Orchestra as an arranger.
As time went by and the end of "The Big Band Era" was in sight, Ray moved his family to Hollywood. It was not long after this move that he was "discovered" by that mighty man of Columbia Records, Mitch Miller. Mitch contracted Ray as a "house" arranger. The year was 1951. The work was run of the mill until Mitch asked Ray to arrange the sound for a proposed single release titled "Band Of Gold" by Don Cherry. The result was (perhaps as expected), brilliant, and the single charted world wide as Don Cherry's biggest hit.
It was now 1956 and Ray had reached the time whereby Mitch had decided to launch Ray as a solo performer with his Orchestra. The first international LP release by Columbia with Ray Conniff was "S'Wonderful." This was the first time we would hear Ray's unusual arrangements using female voices to blend with the trumpets and male voices to blend with the saxophones. It was an instant success!
As a matter of interest, on the album "S'Wonderful" Ray used the talents of Al Caiola and Tony Mottola on guitars. These famous guitarists were later to make albums in their own right. Later came the albums "S'Marvelous" and "S'Awful Nice."
Ray Conniff's new sound continued in popularity and it was not long after that he introduced trumpeter Billy Butterfield and then his "Singers" into the recording studio. There were 25 singers in the group. Usually they consisted of 12 female voices and 13 male. This now gave Ray Conniff a choice of sounds depending on the hit song or the instrumental version he wished to create.
Between the 1950s and the 1960s a total of 25 albums were recorded. The content of these albums was mostly Conniff arrangements of world renowned "standards." It was a few months later that he began introducing current pop songs in the recording repertoire. In all cases the result was the same... instant success with the record buying public. The Conniff sounds were here to stay.
During this successful time of Columbia Records, Ray Conniff was to cut one of his biggest top selling hits. From the movie "Doctor Zhivago" the singers released "Somewhere My Love" which was adapted from "Lara's Theme." The song is still popular in the new century and proves the everlasting quality of Ray Conniff's brilliant arrangements.
In total in the USA, 51 of Ray's albums charted in the best selling lists, let alone those which made prominence in other countries of the world. To add to the continuing story, Ray Conniff recorded Christmas albums with the singers and we feature five of those tracks on CD number three of this compilation.
On occasions, Ray would "mysteriously" appear on one of his tracks... which is a little unique to say the least. "Honey Come Back" is one of those rare treats. Ray is featured as the solo artist blending in with the singers. This track can be heard on CD 3, track 11 of this compilation.
Ray Conniff is still recording and plays live concerts in many parts of the world. He is extremely popular in Japan and in South America. Wherever he may be, Ray Conniff's music will always be the pinnacle of perfection. His music will continue to entertain well into the next century.
Ray Conniff's music and albums can be summed up in 3 words... 'S Wonderful, 'S Marvelous, 'S Awful Nice.
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