- Somewhere, My Love
- Stranger in Paradise
- Invisible Tears
- When I Grow Too Old To Dream
- You'll Never Know
- Try to Remember
- Wednesday's Child
- Midnight Lace
- Winds Of Change (mono)
- Love Is a Many Splendored Thing
- Lullaby of the Leaves
- Chances Are / It's Not for Me to Say
- Bali Ha'i
- Chanson d'Amour (Song of Love)
- The Warsaw Concerto
- If You Could Read My Mind
- Nadia's theme
- Je t'Aime Moi Non Plus (Love At First Sight) (mono)
- 's Wonderful (mono)
- Besame Mucho
- Theme from The Perry Mason Show (mono)
- Happiness Is
- Memories Are Made Of This
- I've Got My Eyes On You (mono)
This compilation CD was produced by Time-Life and contains several of Ray's singles.
It can be ordered by phone (1-800-488-4669) or from the Time Life website at www.timelife.com.
The Author: Joseph Lanza, author of Elevator Music: A Surreal History
of Muzak, Easy Listening, and Other Moodsong (from St. Martin's Press),
is a journalist whose interests include popular music, film history, and theme
Ray Conniff's contribution to American
popular music can be likened to a beautiful duet between music and marketing.
Combining reverberating horns, skip-happy beats and heavenly singers, Conniff
amassed a fortune making music that is suitable for dancing, singing along or
merely permeating the atmosphere as an unobtrusive mood elevator.
Conniff's career parallels the rapidly changing musical tastes that spanned
from the swing era to the advent of rock 'n' roll. Born in Attleboro, Massachusetts,
on November 6, 1916, Conniff was bemused by his dad's piano playing but took
to the trombone, learning the art of arranging via a mail-order transposer.
Enamored with the big band fad, he hooked up with Bunny Berigan's Orchestra
in Boston in 1935, en route to New York. By the '40s, he worked with the likes
of Bob Crosby and Artie Shaw and even composed and arranged for Glenn Miller.
Conniff collaborated with Meredith Wilson and Walter Schumann for the Armed
Forces Radio Service before reentering civilian life as a principal arranger
for Harry James. But with the postwar demise of swing and the rise of bebop,
Conniff had to make some vital aesthetic and financial choices. In 1948, he
left James and bebop behind to roam Hollywood. Facing the pressures of foreclosure
notices and supporting a wife and three children with only paltry gross earnings
and low-paying manual jobs, Conniff became fixated on the equation between good
music and good grosses. He diligently conjured the precise hit-making elixir
by studying chart toppers and commercial jingles in order to glean rhythmic
background patterns that would assure and subliminally lure listeners.
After soliciting every known record producer, Conniff greeted the '50s as a
chief engineer and musical director at Columbia. There he worked again with
James, at one point arranging the song Castle Rock for Frank Sinatra.
He had a cameo appearance as a trombonist in Universal's 1953 film The Glenn
Miller Story, and met the burgeoning television medium by supplying some
arrangements for Lucky Strike's Your Hit Parade. Then, in 1955, Mitch
Miller altered fate by asking Conniff to arrange the song Band of Gold for
singer Don Cherry. For the first time, Conniff experimented with a chorusa
studio effect that made the song a bestseller.
Conniff's chorusthe main ingredient of his melodic alchemyis arguably
the first such juxtaposition of instruments and voices: trumpets paired with
females, tenor and baritone saxes with males. Columbia's marketing department
targeted Conniff as an artist destined more for albums than singles and christened
his first LP 'S Wonderful in 1956. While launching his solo career, Conniff
continued to lend his enchanted backgrounds to recordings by Tony Bennett, Frankie
Laine, Rosemary Clooney, Marty Robbins, Guy Mitchell and Johnnie Ray. Besides
proving arrangements for two big Johnny Mathis hits, Chances Are and
It's Not for Me to Say, Conniff also combined them into a medley for
his orchestra and chorus.
Conniff soon followed up his album debut with 'S Marvelous and was voted
1957's most promising bandleader by Cash Box magazine. His studio effects
also improved, with an echo-reverberation that suggested a modernized big band
accompanied by the clinking of supermarket shopping carts and cash registers.
Theme from The Perry Mason Show (recorded during the 'S Marvelous
sessions) demonstrated Conniff's occasional departure from his metronomic
tempo for a more somber, elegant and sensual use of piano and voice. He also
showed a knack for string orchestras with his two Concert in Rhythm albums,
updating great masters such as Tchaikovsky and latter-day classicists such as
Richard Addinsell, whose Warsaw Concerto is included here.
Conniff's voices excelled initially as background "do-doos," "ba-bahs"
and "da-da-dahs," but they eventually went foreground. Ray Conniff
and the Singers reached No. 9 in 1966 with Somewhere, My Love (Lara's Theme),
from the film Doctor Zhivago, and won a Grammy for best performance
by a chorus. Besides singing Winds of Change at the beginning and end
of the 1968 Dean Martin movie How to Save a Marriage (And Ruin Your Life),
the Singers could be heard regularly in four-second radio station logo spots,
exhibiting the familiar single-note-per-letter finesse of AM. The Singers went
on for decades, releasing countless albums of popular song covers ranging from
a cleaned-up version of the risqué Je T'Aime Moi Non Plus (Love at
First Sight) to a reinterpretation of Gordon Lightfoot's folky If You
Could Read My Mind as a quasi-Gregorian chant.
In the early '70s, the internationally traveled Conniff was the first American
pop artist to cut an album in the U.S.S.R. using local musicians, singers and
studios. Two decades later he continues to make records (usually with a Latin
flavor) and gives concerts in Europe and Japan. He has culled a new generation
of listeners, predominantly in the South American market.
With "a view to making the masses understand and buy records," Conniff
won fans as diverse as the late Richard Nixon and adult-movie mogul Russ Meyer.
Historically, he served as a touchstone for the middle class during America's
most crucial technological and social changes. He represents a fascinating side
of the musical culture that has withstood years of louder-than-thou cacophony
and neglect from snooty critics. As long as there is a consumer pulse, the Conniff
beat will keep right on tapping.
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