About This Album
Shortly after the release of Dance The Bop! (April 15, 1957), Ray and Mitch Miller realized that they had made a mistake. Listeners were disappointed that Ray's second Lp didn't feature the same style and sound as 's Wonderful. So Mitch asked Ray to write arrangements as fast as he possibly could for a new album similar to 'S Wonderful!
Ray had to spend around ten hours writing the arrangement for each song [Serge Elhaïk, 1994]. The recording sessions began on August 16, 1957 with "You Do Something To Me," "They Can't Take That Away From Me," "I've Told Ev'ry Little Star" and "Where Or When." During this time Ray was constantly arranging and conducting for Columbia vocalists. On August 20, he recorded two songs with The Landon Sisters and two "Jay Raye" recordings ("Finesse" and "Steel Guitar Rock") for Epic. He resumed his album sessions on August 29 with "Be My Love," "I Hear A Rhapsody," "In The Still Of The Night" and "The Way You Look Tonight." Three more followed on September 6: "As Time Goes By," "Someone To Watch Over Me" and "Moonlight Serenade." The final session took place on September 13 and included "I Love You" plus two extra songs: "Park Avenue Beat" (Theme from Perry Mason) and "Symphony Of Love."
's Marvelous was produced by George Avakian. Ray worked with the engineers on the mix for the monaural release of the Lp (CL 1074) which was released on November 4, 1957. The album was remixed for stereo the following year and released on September 15, 1958 after the stereo releases of 's Awful Nice and Concert In Rhythm (which explains the out of sequence catalog number: CS 8037). The engineer who remixed the album used the wrong take of "I Love You" which appears on the stereo Lp and CD. The album was RIAA certified Gold on July 19, 1962.
'S Conniff, too, with a companion volume, although in no sense a sequel, to his best-selling 'S Wonderful! This time the music is slightly moodier, the arrangements a little more subtle, but there is still the same irresistible beat, the same imaginative use of wordless voices to add new sounds to the orchestra. Anyone who has danced to the earlier volume, or listened to some of the Ray Conniff backgrounds on any one of a dozen hits records, will have some idea of what is in store, but with or without that prior knowledge, everyone is in for a treat.
Born in Attleboro, Mass., Ray received his initial musical training on the trombone, taught by his father. Within a remarkably short time, there were two trombonists in the Conniff family, and by the time Ray entered his junior year in high school, he was playing and arranging music as well. The second musical talent was largely self-taught, with some help from a mail order device which taught him the difference between chords. Graduation in 1934 took Ray to Boston, where he worked with a number of society-type orchestras and other musical groups, improving both his playing and his ability as an arranger.
In 1936, he moved to New York, and found work with Bunny Berigan's band, where he was heard as trombonist and arranger for two years. Thereafter he played with Bob Crosby's orchestra on numerous tours, and then moved along to Artie Shaw's group where Ray emerged as a first rate arranger (vide such memorable contributions as Prelude in C-Sharp Minor and Jumping on the Merry-go-round). During the four years he remained with Shaw, Ray also worked on various radio shows and studies at the Juilliard School of Music.
After service in the Army, where he worked with Meredith Willson and Walter Schumann on the Armed Forces Radio Service, Ray was hired by Harry James not as an instrumentalist but as an arranger. Here thereupon turned out such fine settings as Easy On, The Beaumont Ride, and September Song. While working with the James group, Ray wrote so many fine arrangements that he soon attracted the attention of recording companies, and was signed by Columbia to write backgrounds for such vocal stars as rosemary Clooney, Johnnie Ray, Guy Mitchell and many others. From there it was short step to 'S Wonderful!, and an even shorter one to 'S Marvelous.
Ray opens his new program with Jerome Kern's The Way You Look Tonight, given an unusual twist in the strong beat that is a Conniff trademark. I Hear a Rhapsody comes next, in a slow shuffle beat under the smoothly written melodic line, and George Gershwin's They Can't Take That Away from Me follows, set in medium tempos over intriguing figures. Moonlight Serenade, the old Glenn Miller theme, is presented with a slow shuffle beat, while a beguine treatment is provided for Cole Porter's I Love You. The first side closes with a bright and bouncy arrangement of another Kern song, I've Told Ev'ry Little Star.
Equally bright and bouncy is the opener on the second side, Porter's You Do Something To Me. A smooth ballad treatment of As Time Goes By comes next, and is succeeded by a slightly up tempo treatment of Porter's In the Still of the Night. Another Gershwin contribution is Someone to Watch over Me, with its full, rich sound. Be My Love follows in a smooth setting that builds to a logical climax, and the program close with a delightfully bouncy presentation of Richard Rodgers' Where or When.
's Marvelous features some of Ray's best arrangements: "The Way You Look Tonight," "Where Or When," "I Love You" among others. While I don't rank it higher than 's Wonderful!, Ray was definitely on an upward momentum which I feel peaked with the recording of four great instrumental albums in 1958.
This album deserved a much better CD reissue than it received. The songs are out of order (side 2 before side 1), the first note of "Where Or When" is missing, there are no liner notes or recording details, and the cover looks like it was made for the bargain bin. The overall sound quality is excellent. This album should be repackaged with several bonus tracks: a stereo mix of the preferred take of "I Love You" as well as "Park Avenue Beat" and "Symphony Of Love."