's Awful Nice
About This Album
At least one reference book has credited 's Awful Nice as being the very first stereo Lp released. One fact is certain, it was the very first stereo release from Columbia Records, simply by virtue of its catalog number. When Columbia issued its first batch of stereo Lps in mid-1958, CS 8001 topped the list, followed by albums by Les Elgart, Frank Comstock, Mitch Miller and Percy Faith.
"April In Paris," "All The Things You Are," "June in January," and "It Had To Be You" on March 18, 1958. "Lovely To Look At," "That Old Feeling," "Paradise," and "Lullaby of Birdland" on March 20, 1958. "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes," "The Very Thought Of You," "I Cover The Waterfront" and "Say It Isn't So" on March 23, 1958. Mono release on June 2, 1958, stereo on July 14, 1958.
Bell Laboratories began experimenting with stereo sound
Of course, experiments with two track and stereo recording had begun back in the 1930s but they never were released commercially. Ray himself had begun recording on 3-track Ampex tape a year earlier and 's Marvelous was remixed and released in stereo later in 1958.
This is it, the third panel of the triptych that began with "'S Wonderful" and continued with "'S Marvelous." Those particular Conniff albums were received with small cries of glee by dancers, disk jockeys and record dealers alike, being a fine blend of new sounds, strong beat and first-rate music, qualities which are likewise present in this new collection. Here again are fine songs, arranged for dancing or listening, with the instrumental use of the human voice. Here are the new approaches to old favorites, and the wonderfully inventive voicings of Ray Conniff, one of the liveliest conductor-arrangers around (Ray is the gray-suited man on the cover).
One of the first things that happens when a Conniff album is recorded is the acquisition of top-flight musicians, and again this new collection is no exception. On trumpet is Bernie Glow, other notable members of the group include Lou McGarrity and Will Bradley on trombone, Tommy Mitchell on bass trombone and Panama Francis on drums. There is also the skillful and perceptive selection of material ó this albums contains three numbers by Jerome Kern, along with others by Ray Noble, Vernon Duke, Irving Berlin and similar outstanding composers. Altogether, it adds up to an exciting addition to its best-selling predecessors, a fine new collection of dance music.
Ray Conniff was born in Attleboro, Mass., and did his first dance orchestra work with his high school companions, a group known as Van Rounseville and his Hollanders. After graduation, he worked with Dan Murphy's Musical Skippers, learning a great deal about what makes dance music tick. In 1935 he joined Bunny Berigan's Orchestra, playing trombone, arranging many of the pop tunes and contributing originals as well. In 1938, he moved over to Bob Crosby's group, and in 1940 joined Artie Shaw, writing much of the Shaw book from then until 1945. A short term in the Army followed, and Ray came out to join Harry James as staff arranger. During this period he made an intensive study of what went into a hit record, not just gimmicks, but the basic content of sound, beat and rhythmic pattern. His work came to the attention of Columbia executives, who gave him a chance arranging and conducting for singers, and Ray turned out so many successful backgrounds that he was invited to try his hand at an instrumental album. "'S Wonderful" was the result, so entertaining and popular that a sequel was provided soon thereafter. And "'S Marvelous" proved just as successful as its predecessor. Now comes "'S Awful Nice," which indeed it is, another scintillating example of Ray Conniff's imaginative work.