quinta-feira, 23 de abril de 2015

Ray Conniff - 'S Wonderful! (The Ray Conniff's First Album)

  1. 'S Wonderful
  2. Dancing in the Dark
  3. Speak Low
  4. Wagon Wheels
  5. Sentimental Journey
  6. Begin the Beguine
  7. September Song
  8. I Get A Kick Out of You
  9. Stardust
  10. I'm An Old Cow Hand
  11. Sometimes I'm Happy
  12. That Old Black Magic
'S Wonderful!

Ray Conniff had a solid career of big band arranging and conducting the orchestras backing Columbia Records' stable of '50s pop singers before he managed to get his name on a record himself. But that didn't prepare anybody for the success of this album, named after the Gershwin song he first arranged when he was working for Artie Shaw. Conniff updated the big band sound to the '50s, retaining its danceable tempos and building upon the unison section innovations of Glenn Miller, his own added idea being a vocal chorus that hummed and sang syllables as an extra part of the ensemble. Employing standards with familiar melodies, the imaginativeness of his work became all the more noticeable, and 'S Wonderful! became a substantial hit that kicked off a run of successful albums in the same style.  

(by William Ruhlmann from allmusic.com)
    As is almost invariably true, the best way to find out about music is to listen to it, and that is especially so of this dazzling new collection by Ray Conniff and his orchestra. Striking out along new paths in popular sounds, its distinction, apart from the superior songs it includes, arises from explorations in colorings, textures and improvisation, all impossible to capture in words.

    What the talented Mr. Conniff has done with these beloved and familiar melodies is to build forward from them on an orchestral and choral basis, with a free use of percussion as a coloring force as well as a rhythmic one. Moreover, he has taken his chorus and used the singers as instruments in the arrangements; frequently the voices are along with the other instruents, at other times they are off on contrasting lines of their own. The result is a sort of musical dialogue between various voices and choirs of the orchestra as well as the vocal chorus. Improvisation is also present in the instrumental sections, allowing for an even freer interplay of sonic textures. If this sounds technical to some degree, remember that the basic conception of Mr. Conniff's work is the interesting presentation of interesting music: the fine melodies are still there and just as songful as ever. What he aimed at is an increase in the already substantial interest of the music.

    A former student at the Juilliard School of Music, Ray Conniff prefaced his studies with ten years of arranging and composing, in addition to a solid career with the trombone. He was born in Attleboro, Mass., where he received most of his early training from his father. After finishing his early schooling he moved to Boston and began working with various local orchestras, mostly in the "society" category, learning his trade as arranger with these and other, more swinging outfits. In 1936 he shifted to New York and joined the great Bunny Berigan outfit; later he joined Bob Crosby and Artie Shaw, for whom he arranged the 'Prelude in C-Sharp Minor' and ''S Wonderful!' among other memorable works. After an interlude in the Army, he continued his studies and went to work arranging for Harry James. Later still he joined Columbia, arranging and conducting for star vocalists, and makes his album debut with this collection.

    Along with the tingling Conniff arrangements may be heard some of the finest musicians in New York, among them Billy Butterfield, Urbie Green, Hymie Schertzer, Osie Johnson, Tony Mottola and others. The result is a collection of unusual musical interest, not only for the songs chosen, but for the far-ranging settings and the uncommon musicianship of the participants. From the introductory title song by George and Ira Gershwin, right through to Johnny Mercer-Harold Arlen's 'Black Magic', a program of wonderful listening lies ahead.

    (Liner notes taken from the original analog releases)


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