Love Is The Sweetest Thing: 36 Original Recordings 1931-1946
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Audio CD, November 29, 2011
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(2-CD set) Ray Noble was born in Brighton, England in 1903. He learned to play piano as a child and during his teens was given lessons in orchestration. Noble's skill for arranging impressed Jack Payne, bandleader for the BBC, who hired Noble as his arranger. Noble began recording on the HMV label as the director on the Mayfair Orchestra and was soon given label credit under his own name. From 1929 to 1934 Noble made over 500 records for HMV, also released in the U.S.A. on Victor. Noble wrote many hit songs, four of which are provided here. His classic Goodnight Sweetheart completes this album. In late 1934, Noble, his wife Gladys, his manager and Al Bowlly, Noble's long time vocalist, came to the States, and started arranging for Paramount Studios. In early 1935 he formed a new band with several respected jazz musicians such as Charlie Spivak, Glenn Miller, Will Bradley, Bud Freeman and Claude Thornhill. In 1935 the band had its first recording session cutting 7 songs including Soon. During 1935-36, Noble made many others including Top Hat.
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The British musicians of Noble's orchestra are presented here in the early 1930's recordings. However, when Noble came to America, he was bound by law to hire American musicians for his gig here. Although the musicians on this side of The Pond were a different breed from what he was accustomed to, Noble (in his gentlemanly way) expected and received no less from them. They delivered. Man, did they deliver! The result is wonderful!
The one thing I must comment on that is highly evident in this collection is the influence of the great Glen Miller. Miller joined up with Noble in New York in the mid 1930's and brought on board the best American musicians of the time, among them Charlie Spivak, Bud Freeman, Pee Wee Erwin and Johnny Mince. Miller turned Noble on to the "new emerging sound" on the North American continent, SWING. Ray Noble, being no fool, included Swing in his New York engagement, much to the delight of Miller and the other "hot" musicians. The result here is a sound that represents and spans two musical eras: Dance/ballads Era and the later Swing/Hot Jazz era (the soundtrack of WWII). This will delight Glen Miller fans, for here is the best of his early works, a preview of the greatness to come. This will also delight fans of the hot jazz masters, too.
This cd comes with a very informative booklet of liner notes written by Randy Skretvedt (2002). Skretvedt gives us a history of the Noble-Miller pairing and their subsequent parting, as well as Noble's career. I highly recommend you read this booklet for the full picture. I commend Randy Skretvedt for a job well done on these notes!
I could go on and on about how beautiful and delightful the songs are, but ultimately it is you the listener who will decide which are the gems based on your own taste and musical ear. Many of the songs are from movies (such as "Top Hat" with Fred Astaire, "The Big Broadcast of 1936" and "Follow the Fleet," etc.). "Top Hat," "Let's Face the Music and Dance," and "Why Dream" are examples of some of the movie tunes, all done fabulously and featuring Al Bowlly on vocals. The Miller-influenced hotter numbers (mainly on disc 2) include the rousing "Let Yourself Go," "Dinah," "Let's Swing It," and "Sleepy Time Gal."