Eventually, every great artist releases a Greatest Hits album. With Ray Conniff, however, that’s not easy. The question is: Which Greatest Hits? Ray’s list of Greatest Hits is nearly as long as the list of songs he has recorded.
Since it is not possible to include several hundred songs in one album, the task of repertory selection for “Ray Conniff’s Greatest Hits, was nearly insurmountable. Starting with Ray’s first solid Gold Record, “‘S Wonderful,” right down the list to his last release, “I Love How You Love Me” . . . even a cursory examination will reveal that every record deserves to be called a hit. The reason is as simple as the Conniff mystique; when Ray works his magic on a song, it’s his; it’s unique; it’s a hit.
The songs in this album are the greatest of Ray’s Greatest Hits. Some of them, like ‘S Wonderful, go back fourteen years. Rut, as always, they are as uniquely new, uniquely Conniff, as the day they were recorded; they sparkle with a freshness that only Ray Conniff can create, Like every Conniff album, this is a new listening experience. The Conniff magic has worked its charm again. The result? Well . . . ‘s wonderful.
As exciting as today’s youth is also the party sound of Peter Covent, known for his always topical hits à gogo. Who is behind this musical pseudonym? Carlos Diernhammer, born and bred from Munich, was born in Buenos Aires while passing through. Together with his current producer Egon L. Frauenberger, he went to school in Bavaria’s metropolis. At the age of 13, “Don Carlos”, as he is called by his friends, composed his first sonata. After graduating from the conservatory, he jazzed with Freddie Brocksieper and Max Greger, for whom he still works as an arranger. An offer from Woody Herman Carlos declined to America because he had just entered his current wife was in love young. He later went into business for himself, arranging and composing for the most famous German big bands. The musical and personal connection with his old school friend finally became “Peter Covent a la Mr. Hits à gogo” to the enthusiasm of all young people.
Label: Philips 844 361 PY Cover Photo: H. Dombrowski, Hamburg
Aquarius, Where’s The Playground Susie, A Time For Us (Love Theme From Romeo And Juliet), Happy Heart, One Summers Day, Windmills Of Your Mind, Fifty-Ninth Street Bridge Song (Feeling Groovy), Good Morning Starshine, Boom Bang-A-Bang, Galveston, Once In Each Life, Goodbye
The title of this album sums it all up admirably. This is Chaquito, and this is a very swinging Latin sound. The visas are optional, of course, but we doubt very much whether any of you will be honestly able to refrain from emitting some kind of applause or approving sound after you have listened to this LP. A decade is a long time in popular music.
Long enough for countless disc hopefuls to make their debut, perhaps achieve a few brief weeks or months of high-selling glory, and then sink without trace into that overcrowded oblivion that awaits so many short-lived inhabitants of the transient pop world. But Chaquito is an exception. It is now well over ten years since Fontana artists and repertoire manager Jack Baverstock invited Johnny Gregory to assemble a big line-up of top recording session musicians, and feed the demand for exciting examples of the currently popular cha cha cha dance music. Hence the “Cha” part of El Gregory’s soubriquet. The interest and appeal of Chaquito records did not recede in ratio to the wane of the cha cha cha vogue, however. Chaquito LPs were not abundant in quantity, but those that came along found increasing favour amongst an international audience, including Latin America, where record buyers are born to these types of rhythms and are accordingly hard to please. And now, over ten years later, Chaquito records, ancient and modern, are selling more and more in wider and wider areas of the globe as well as in Britain. He hasn’t topped the hit parade in any country yet, he hasn’t done “Sunday Night At The London Palladium,” or been invited by a giggling guru to meditate in the Himalayas*, but he has found a vital, vibrant formula based firmly on. the most torrid of Latin tempos that has provided unique longevity of recording existence and ensures unlimited prospects and potential for the future. Johnny Gregory is exceptionally qualified as an orchestrator of the whole gamut of quality music from the classics through film music to jazz, and his flair as a writer for strings is without peer in Britain today. Being of Latin descent himself, he has the innate feel for rhythm that characterises all the Latin races, and a boundless interest in and affection for the rhythms of Latin America.
This LP proves all these points. Baia, with its lilting Brazilian batuque beat, the shrill power and intensity imparted by the piccolo unison with the trumpets, the swinging Latin jazz of the middle-eight release, and the lugubrious grunt of the rosined cane within a drumhead in the hands of Denis Lopez and known as a cuica, is good for openers. Then there’s the haughty bull-fight atmosphere superimposed on a crisp samba beat in Corrida, the soothing baion grace of Mexicana, and the fiery, polyrhythmic Afro-Cuban attack of the chunga written by Perez Prado, king of the mambo and chancellor of the chunga. The ritmo here, provided by Senores Jack Peach, Barry Morgan, Denis Lopez and Stuart Gordon, leaves nothing to be desired. In complete contrast, Barney Gilbraith’s vision of feminine loveliness, Francesca, glides seductively along in baion time before the full might of the Chaquito crew is dramatically unleashed again in Special project, which was used as signature tune for an independent television series. The second side begins with a nimble Kentonesque excursion written by well-known West End Latin bandleader Francisco Cavez, with a tremendous, explosive break-out by the whole orchestra after the initial thematic statement, erupting again behind the tenor-saxophone and trombone solos and leading into a brief jungle duet for Barry Morgan’s bongos and Denis Lopez’s congas. Campanella demonstrates conclusively that Chaquito is no mere wild man of the rhythmic woods by dint of its chiming brass tintinnabulation and delicate progression. El Greco in this case is Buddy Greco, and his tune gets a mixture of jazz and baion treatment. Parango, a Chaquito composition in hectic fast, guaracha style, spotlights Johnny Scott’s flute and some adept timbale punctuation and fill-ins from Barry Morgan after the flute’s first chorus. The pace relaxes for another chunga, and then Chaquito sketched out a few brief bars for the orchestra, instructed them to imagine themselves as a bibulous street band at carnival time, and gave them their musical heads. You will hear the exact carnival mood depicted, even the rockets soaring skywards by courtesy of the trumpets and Manny Winter’s piccolo. So carnival-minded was everyone that this busking furore went on for a full five minutes after Jack Baverstock faded down the controls. So here we have another Chaquito LP. Most of the exclamatory yelps of encouragement and enthusiasm audible came from Chaquito himself, and if you were directing a line-up like this, you would feel the same. As for how the musicians feel, it’s not un-common for them to forego lucrative commercial jingle and film sessions for the chance of blowing on a Chaquito date at normal rates. As for how you feel, we distinctly heard a yell of “Viva Chaquito!”
* a sly reference to the Beatles’ trip to India in 1968 where they studied meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Johnny Mann is a rare talent in the music business. Not only has he accrued countless credits for arranging, conducting and composing, but he also serves as Musical Director for one of the most successful night-time television shows, The Joey Bishop Show. In this album Johnny takes his talented group of singers through twelve golden hits with the versatility that has made this group the most popular chorus on record.
I Wish You Love (Que Reste-t-ll De Nos Amours), Bewitched, Manhattan, All The Things You Are, September Song, World In My Arms, The Girl From Ipanema, After Eight, More, You Go To My Head, As Time Goes By, Dream
Label: Major Minor SMCP 5010 Cover Photograph: Isabelle Foret/Heliotrope Dejay Sleeve Design: Stephen Hill
This, like every Ray Conniff album, is an adventure. An aural experience that cannot be duplicated. Ray’s musical contributions to our contemporary culture are no accident. This recording, in a way, is just like his previous records in that it reflects the taste and expertise of Ray Conniff, the man, and the talent and creativity of Ray Conniff, the artist.
But, as with each new Conniff offering, it is as new and exciting as each sunrise, exposing yet another side of the Conniff mystique… his timeliness. Ray’s timeliness shows not only in his choice of repertory but in its presentation; making every Conniff album a unique experience. JEAN offers two special examples of Ray’s taste, timeliness and creativity. The beautiful girl on the cover is Ray’s wife, Vera, and The Power of Love is Ray’s own composition. The first, an obvious example of impeccable taste and the second, a demonstration of the versatile timeliness, talent and creativity of the composer and artist. A very poor and overworked man was once asked why he was so happy and excited every morning. He replied, “‘Cause I ain’t never seen this day before.” So be it… you ain’t never heard this record before.
Waltz From “Der Rosenkavalier”, Etude In E Major Op. 10 No. 3, Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, Intermezzo From “Cavalleria Rusticana”, Waltz From “Faust”, Theme From “The Moldau”, Prelude In C Sharp Minor Op. 3 No. 2, Interlude From “Notre Dame”, Berceuse From “Jocelyn”, Espana
Fatiniza March, Acclamation Waltz, Mazurka From “Der Bettelstudent”, Die Muhle Im Schwarzwald, Quadrille From “Die Fledermaus”, Gruss Euch Gott From “Der Vogelhandler”, Brasilianer Galop, Ballsirenen Waltz From “The Merry Widow”, Leichts Blut, Florentina March
This front covers features a sticker showing 42/6. What does this mean? Those over a certain age will remember the currency format before there were a hundred pennies in a pound. Back then 42/6 stood for 42 shillings and sixpence or £2.12½ in today’s money.
On My Darling Clementine, Lonesome Road, When The Saints, Franky And Johnny, Sleep My Prince, Black Eyes, Swing Low Sweet Chariot, Muss I Denn, Just A Little While To Stay Here, Bye And Bye, Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen