At last some important gaps in Percy Faith’s impressive recording career have finally been filled.
PERCY FAITH AND HIS ORCHESTRA
ASV LIVING ERA CD AJS 278 [2 CDs]
These two CDs contain Percy Faith’s earliest commercial recordings, made for the Majestic, Decca and RCA Victor labels in the 1940s, none of which have ever been issued on CD, plus a selection of those he made after joining Columbia including his best sellers "Delicado", "Swedish Rhapsody" and "The Song from Moulin Rouge". Thus this collection finally fills the gaps left by the many other CD reissues of Faith’s music allowing us to hear many fascinating and long-forgotten examples from his long and distinguished career.
CD ONE – THE EARLY YEARS
01 Amor (from "Broadway Rhythm") (Gabriel Ruiz)
02 Negra Consentida (My Pet Brunette) (Marjorie Harper / Joaquin Pardave)
03 Embraceable You (from "Girl Crazy") (George & Ira Gershwin)
04 Baia (Ne Baixe Do Sapateiro)
05 If There Is Someone Lovelier Than You (Arthur Schwartz / Howard Dietz)
06 Tico Tico (Ervin Drake / Zequinha Oliveira)
07 Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year (from "Christmas Holiday") (Frank Loesser)
08 Bem Te Vi Atrevido (Lina Pesce)
09 I Love You (from "Mexican Hayride") (Cole Porter)
10 Capullito De Aleli (R Hernandez)
11 Long Ago And Far Away (from "Cover Girl") (Jerome Kern / Ira Gershwin)
12 La Cumparsita (Matos Rodriguez)
13 Stardust (Hoagy Carmichael / Mitchell Parish)
14 Mar (Stars In Your Eyes) (Gabriel Ruiz / Mendaz)
15 Bim, Bam, Boom! (John A Camacho / Noro Morales)
16 I’ll Close My Eyes (Billy Reid / Buddy Kaye) (Vocal – Hildegarde)
17 There’s No Holding Me (Arthur Schwartz / Ira Gershwin) (Vocal – Hildegarde)
18 Dancing In The Dark (Howard Dietz / Arthur Schwartz
19 That Old Black Magic (Johnny Mercer / Harold Arlen)
20 All Through The Night (from "Anything Goes") (Cole Porter)
21 Begin The Beguine (from "Jubilee") (Cole Porter)
22 The Touch Of Your Hand (from "Roberta") (Otto Harbach / Jerome Kern)
23 Tia Juana (B Green / R Scott)
24 Temptation (from "Going Hollywood") (Arthur Freed / Nacio Herb Brown)
25 Noche Caribe (Caribbean Night) (from "Starlift") (Percy Faith)
TOTAL TIME – 76:35
CD TWO – INTO THE FIFTIES
01 Swedish Rhapsody (Midsummer Vigil) (Hugo Alfven)
02 Body And Soul (Heyman / Sour / Eyton / Green)
03 Da Du (Percy Faith) (with Male Chorus)
04 Deep Purple (Mitchell Parish / Peter De Rose}
05 Fiddle Derby (Percy Faith)
06 My Dream Concerto (David / Lawnhurst) (Vocal – Ray Charles and Chorus)
07 Dizzy Fingers (Zes Confrey) (with The Magic Voices)
08 I Got Rhythm ("Girl Crazy") (George & Ira Gershwin)
09 Flight 33 1/3 (Percy Faith)
10 Solitude (Duke Ellington / Eddie De Lange / Irving Mills)
11 Nervous Gavotte (Percy Faith) (Featuring Lou Stein – Piano)
12 Mosquitoes’ Parade (J Kennedy / Howard Whitby) (with Chorus)
13 La Mer (Beyond The Sea) (Charles Trenet) (with Wordless Chorus)
14 Kitten On The Keys (Zes Confrey) (with The Magic Voices and Stan Freeman & Bernie Leighton – Pianos)
15 Whirlwind (Jones) (with Chorus)
16 El Cumbanchero (Rafael Hernandez)
17 Goodbye John (Edward Eager / Alec Wilder) (with The Ray Charles Singers)
18 Perpetual Notion (Percy Faith)
19 They Can’t Take That Away From Me (George & Ira Gershwin) (with Chorus)
20 Soft Lights And Sweet Music (Irving Berlin)
21 Oodles Of Noodles (Jimmy Dorsey)
22 Would You (Freed / Brown) (Vocal – The Magic Voices and Peter Hanley)
23 Cumana (Hillman / Spina / Allen)
24 Delicado (W Azevedo) (Harpsichord – Stan Freeman)
25 The Song from "Moulin Rouge" (Where Is Your Heart?) (William Engvick / Georges Auric) (Vocal – Felicia Sanders)
TOTAL TIME – 77:56
Compiled by Alan Bunting from his own collection.
Transfers, audio restoration and re-mastering by Alan Bunting.
This new release marks the realisation of a cherished ambition by Alan Bunting. As the acknowledged British expert on Percy Faith recordings, his enthusiasm for the music of this great Canadian conductor has endured three distinct phases. First of all there was something approaching desperation in the early 1990s, when the flood of reissues on CD of material from LPs seemed to be ignoring the great contribution from Faith. Then gradually the situation improved as the close of the 20th century approached, and today the position has been reached where – astonishingly – virtually all of his albums are now available once again, mainly due to the support of Collectables in the USA. But these reissues have largely ignored Faith’s work in the pre-LP era, when he was closely involved with radio and his commercial recordings provided many clues to the greatness that was to follow.
Would any record company in the USA or elsewhere ever cover this period, even if they could locate the original 78s? It seemed unlikely, until Alan managed to persuade Ray Crick, the enterprising label manager at Living Era in England that there was a demand from Percy Faith collectors world-wide for this now very rare material. Not only did Ray encourage Alan to work on this project, but he also allowed him a 2-CD set in order that the missing gaps could be properly filled.
Alan was the ideal choice to compile this collection, in view of his extensive knowledge of Faith’s work. Also there was the important factor that a lifetime’s collecting meant that Alan actually possessed all the rare 78s from this period. His considerable experience in the digital restoration and remastering of vintage recordings has produced superb results which will delight collectors with their clarity and richness of sound.
In his comprehensive notes accompanying this release (which includes full recording dates and catalogue numbers), Alan explains why it is so important that these tracks should be available at long last:
"Percy Faith is considered to be one of the greatest arranger/conductors ever in the field of light and popular music and many rate him as number one. This is borne out by the fact that more of his work has been re-issued on CD than that of any comparable artist. Until now though, none of his earliest commercial recordings have been available on Compact Disc. These two CDs contain all of his Majestic, Decca and RCA recordings, plus a selection of the first he made with Columbia in the early 50s.
"Faith's broadcasting career had given him boundless opportunities to arrange and conduct every kind of music - classical, choral, swing, popular, even jazz and he was well versed in providing appropriate backings for singers ranging from operatic stars to the latest pop idols. It is therefore rather surprising that someone who was extremely popular in both the USA and Canada, and had been broadcasting to huge audiences in both countries every week since the end of the 30s, didn't make any commercial records until 1944. Even more surprising is that some of these weren't actually released until several years later. The precise reasons are unclear - certainly Canada's record industry had always been overshadowed by America and did little to promote native artists, especially orchestras, but why Faith was ignored for so long by the American Record industry will probably remain a mystery.
"Percy's first commercial recordings were for American Decca and on April 20th 1944 he recorded Amor and Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year in their Chicago studios. He returned in May to record five more titles although one of them, If There Is Someone Lovelier Than You, was not destined to be released as a 78 and record buyers had to await the arrival of the LP format before they could hear this superb arrangement. The next Decca titles were cut in New York in June 1945. As The Contented Hour didn't move to New York until some six months later one wonders why these sides weren't recorded in Chicago where he had a ready made orchestra familiar with the arrangements, most of which had already been tried out on the programme. There was now a gap of over a year before he recorded again, this time in the role of accompanist to the popular singing star Hildegarde. Four titles were recorded in October 1946 and, although not strictly speaking "Percy Faith and his Orchestra", two of them are featured here as a vocal interlude before we move on to the next phase of his recording career.
"For some reason Decca did not call further upon Mr. Faith's services (a decision they probably regretted in later years), and Percy's next recording venture was an album for the fledgling Majestic label. The term ‘album’ as used here refers to the original concept of an album - a number of 78 rpm discs contained in an album with the discs stored in individual pockets. Majestic was a division of The Majestic Radio & Television Corporation of New York, but it was short-lived and the parent company didn't last much longer. Faith recorded eight sides for them in 1947 and six were issued as the 78 album Presenting the Exciting Music of Percy Faith. Again two titles never appeared as 78s and there was a long delay before they eventually surfaced. In fact we had to wait for Majestic to sell their catalogue to The Mercury Radio & Television Corporation in 1948, and for Mercury in turn to sell it on to the Wright Record Corporation (part of the now long defunct Eli Oberstein empire) less than a year later. Mercury had re-issued the six sides as 78s but Wright dubbed them to LP format and released them, together with the two previously unissued tracks, on their Royale label. All of the Majestic titles subsequently turned up on a variety of Oberstein labels, among them Varsity, Rondo-lette, Galaxy and Allegro under several different overall album titles.
Two years were to elapse before Faith's next recording session, this time for RCA. In 1949 he recorded twelve tracks at RCA's Manhattan Center and, yet again, two of them never made it as singles, eventually being included in the LP album Soft Lights and Sweet Music. Although still very busy with his radio commitments, this lack of interest in his music from the record companies must have been quite frustrating for him but, very soon, everything was to change dramatically.
"RCA may well have been hoping to make further recordings but Columbia were planning a major assault on the popular market and, in 1950, having appointed Mitch Miller as Head of Artists and Repertoire, they invited Percy to join them as Director of their Popular Division. Some 26 years later Percy was still recording for Columbia and continued to do so until less than a month before he died, on February 9th 1976. Initially Percy had a dual role at Columbia; as well as making recordings in his own right, part of his contract was to develop up and coming new singers and also to ‘rescue’ established ones whose careers were faltering. Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Johnny Mathis, Guy Mitchell and Doris Day are just a few of those nurtured by Faith and their success owes much to his skills. The majority of his own Columbia recordings at this time featured arrangements of current hit songs, usually with vocal chorus, as well as some superbly arranged instrumental items. These usually used a somewhat smaller orchestra than the Decca, Majestic and RCA recordings - the lush and exciting orchestral albums which made him world famous came later and are outside the time span of this collection.
"A prolific composer (five of his pieces are to be found in this compilation), he always argued strongly in interviews that arranging is very similar to composing and deserves equal status. Unlike the majority of orchestra leaders, Faith always arranged everything himself and it was one of his ‘arrangement / compositions’ that became one of his greatest hits. He adapted Swedish Rhapsody from themes by Hugo Alfven and, backed with his memorable version of The Song From Moulin Rouge, it became one of Columbia's best selling singles of that era. As well as this vocal version of Moulin Rouge, he also recorded a magnificent extended arrangement and one wonders why he didn't use it for the Felicia Sanders recording. Perhaps it was considered too long for a single in those days so, in speculative mood, this compilation ends with a composite version of the two, which may well be what the maestro would have preferred to record over fifty years ago!"
The above excerpts from Alan Bunting’s booklet notes are reproduced by kind permission of Alan and Living Era. A comprehensive Percy Faith discography may be found on Alan Bunting’s WEB pages at http://homepages.tesco.net/~alan.bunting/