Ray Noble

No. 6

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Ray Noble wrote many works that have long since become standards favored by jazz musicians, including "Cherokee," "The Touch of Your Lips," "The Very Thought of You," and "Love Locked Out," to name just a few. But hearing the English bandleader conducting either his own orchestra or the New Mayfair Novelty Orchestra, with the odd-sounding vocals of Al Bowlly, takes some getting used to. Sure, there's a jazz sensibility within his arrangement of Noel Coward's "Twentieth Century Blues" and Laurie Payne's delightful baritone sax solo in "On the Other Side of Lover's Lane." But tracks like the excruciating "Lady of Spain" (long one of the first pieces accordion students learned from their teachers) and the even worse "This Little Piggie Went to Market" make Paul Whiteman's most elephantine commercial recordings sound positively swinging. Bowlly's vibrato especially grows tiresome in a hurry. So in spite of Warren Vaché's laudatory liner notes, most jazz fans familiar with Ray Noble the composer may want to think twice before picking up this LP, last available in the 1970s from the now-defunct Monmouth-Evergreen label.