Concert In Stereo: Live At The Sahara/Tahoe
About This Album
The Recording Sessions for This Album Were Supervised and Produced by Jack Gold
Arranged and Conducted by Ray Conniff
The Sound Was Supervised by Bob Ballard
Engineering: Jack Lattig and Bruce Morgan
Cover photos: Frank Bez / Inside collage: Ray Gray
In an age where fame can come and go quickly, and so many stars don't even pause in their raise and fall, it is especially gratifying to note how long the Conniff star has burned and how much brighter it is today than it has ever been.
The tremendous durability and versatility of the Conniff genius become apparent when one has the opportunity to see the Conniff Orchestra and Singers in concert.
Like the separately brilliant sides of a many-faceted gem, we are first introduced to the original Conniff technique, mostly instrumental with voices as sounds; thus we hear Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, Besame Mucho, and On The Street Where You Live. Then we become aware of the contemporary songs that we have come to love with the Conniff touch. With the chorus singing words in this fashion, we hear, Honey, Those Were The Days, and the great Conniff hit,Somewhere, My Love.
Other sides of the Conniff gem emerge as the music journeys into the classics. Once more the ooh's and ah's of recognition greet the sound of each arrangement including An Improvisation On Schubert's Serenade and An Improvisation On Chopin's Nocturne In E Flat.
It seems almost impossible for one man to have moved so successfully into so many areas, but the audience watching Ray Conniff conduct his orchestra and singers soon begins to understand how it all came to be.
Conniff's control over his musicians and voices is instant, electric, and apparent. No one could conduct with that much assurance except the man who had written the arrangements himself. Now the mystery of how the voices phrase so well is unraveled as we watch him coax, urge, and command all at the very same time.
An unexpected, bug huge, bonus is the Conniff personality. Ray introduces the numbers with an unpretentious charm that puts the audience completely at ease.
Additional dimensions of the Conniff talent are exhibited when Ray plays the clavietta on Somewhere, My Love and joins Rica Moore on a tongue-in-cheek vocal version of It's So Nice To Have A Man Around The House.
One of the biggest surprises is when Ray picks up the trombone, gathers six of his key musicians, and they embark on an authentic Dixieland segment that literally stops the show. The tremendous musicianship of everyone in the group is completely apparent. The crowd loves it.
Famous musicians included in the Dixieland group are Johnny Guarnieri, piano, ex-Artie Shaw-Benny Goodman great; Panama Francis on drums, once the mainstay of the Cab Calloway rhythm section; Skeets Herfurt, clarinet, well known for his work with the original Dorsey Brothers Orchestra, and Johnny Best on trumpet, who is remembered so well for his brilliant playing with the original Glenn Miller Orchestra; and in this fast company, Ray Conniff demonstrates trombone work that makes one remember his early days as a musician with Bunny Berigan, Bob Crosby, and Artie Shaw.
A final dimension of the concert, and of Ray Conniff, is exposed when Ray leads the audience through an entertaining sing-along version of Memories Are Made Of This. The audience becomes part of the Ray Conniff chorus and loves every minute of it. Ray exhibits unexpected poise as an MC, getting many laughs in the process.
The concert ends on a note of excitement with the performance of Mame which builds to an encore and finally a standing ovation. Somewhere in the audience a man hollers out that he came 3,000 mile to hear them perform Mame and the crowd that is there makes it sound like they think that the trip was well worth while. — Jack Gold