"The secret to success? Never settle for being content."
Fans had a wonderful time at the 2013 Ray Conniff convention in Brussels. Many thanks to Manfred Thoenicke and Claudine Deman for making it all possible. Here's a summary of events:
Day 3: Sunday morning we attended a tribute concert to Ray Conniff by the Big Band of Chantilly Orchestra, conducted by Dominique Grebert. Favorite selections included "My Cha Chornia" (with trombone solo by Marc Legay), "Besame Mucho" (with vocal solo by Fiona Maillard) and jazz standard "C Jam Blues." Francis Charriere played trombone and provided warm introductions for members of the orchestra. One surprise was Ray's "stage band" instrumental arrangement of "Somewhere My Love" which we enjoyed hearing for the first time. Hopefully we can share clips of this event on YouTube shortly:
The afternoon saw sunny skies so many of us spent the afternoon touring the city. I had promised myself not to purchase any vinyl on this trip but found myself lured into a jazz record store. I wasn't even looking for Conniff but fate put a copy of Exitos Latinos into my hands. I'm certain the sales clerk thought I was crazy when I told her that the cover model of this 35 year old record was staying at a nearby hotel. Vera graciously inscribed the cover after dinner.
This evening we returned to La Rose Blanche for dinner and a final round at A la Mort Subite, a historic bar whose name translates to "Sudden Death."
Day 2 (Saturday): We were joined today by Vera and Tamara Conniff. We travelled to Brugge via charter bus and listened a wonderful collection of Conniff tunes on the ride. Most of us went on a guided walking tour of the city and had a late lunch. We took a half hour cruise on the canals in the rain. Lots of laughter as we enjoyed the sites.
Then back to Brussels for dinner at Aux Armes de Bruxelles. Manfred spoke eloquently about the history of the conventions (11 of them dating back to 1986). Tamara shared some exciting news about the possibility of Ray's 1965 Christmas show being broadcast this fall as well as a 2-CD compilation to be released in the UK (details to come). We were treated to some live music to honor Ray and wrapped up shortly after 11pm.
Day 1 (Friday evening): The convention "offically" began at 5pm with a reception at nh Hotel Grand Place Arenberg where we spent more than two hours enjoying refreshments and getting reacquainted with one another while listening to great recordings by Ray Conniff and His Orchestra and Chorus. We were greeted by organizers Manfred Thoenicke and Claudine Deman.
We then moved to private dining in the third floor of La Rose Blanche at the Grand Place where we enjoyed a lovely dinner. A special thanks to Claudine for handling all the meticulous details!