Conniff Live in Tokyo
Smallchief | 03/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ray Conniff had an amazing 65-year career as a big-band trombonist, conducter, and arranger. Maybe somebody has made more albums and recorded more songs than Conniff -- but I don't know who. This is album number 88, recorded live in Tokyo in 1992 when he was 75 years old. He continued recording and touring for another decade.
Conniff was a big deal in the US in the late 1950s and 1960s but fell out of prominence thereafter. He continued to be very popular in Latin America and, oddly enough, Japan and Russia. Throughout his recording career he pursued the same winning formula: a shuffle beat; a bold, brassy, bright sound; and a mixed chorus, sometimes singing words, sometimes doos and daas like an instrument of the band. You won't like all his arrangements, but he gets it right with a fresh interpretation of a familiar song about 75 percent of the time.
This live album consists mostly of newer songs, i.e. from the 1960s and later, rather than big band standards. I especially enjoyed the energetic finale in which Conniff led the orchestra in "Brazil," an archetypal Conniff arrangement, a swinging "Mack the Knife" and a great arrangement of "On the Steet Where you Live" which converts a drippy showtune into a toe-tapping masterpiece. Along their way are some pleasant surprises: two Carpenter's songs which I didn't like in the original but were excellent in Conniff's arrangement and a song I've never heard before, "My Cha Chornia."
For a cross section of Conniff's music this is an excellent CD."