Renée Raff, Pat Dahl (vcl), Billy Byers, Benny Carter, Billy May, Lyn Murray, Marty Paich, Pete Rugolo, Shorty Rogers (arr, dir), Harry Edison (tp), J.J. Johnson (tb), Jerome Richardson, Buddy Collette (ts, fl), Don Elliott (vib, clavietta), Hank Jones, Don Abney (p), Barry Galbraith, John Gray (g), Milt Hinton, Ernie Furtado (b), Osie Johnson, Ronnie Bedford, Shelly Manne (d)
Reference: FSR V122 CD
Bar code: 8427328641227
The Best Voices Time Forgot
Collectible Albums by Top Female Vocalists
· Collector's Edition
· 2 Original LPs on 1 CD
· Original Cover Art, Liner Notes
· Complete Personnel Details
· Stereo Recordings
· Newly Remastered in 24-Bit
Among the Stars
Originally from South Africa, Renée Raff settled in the United States in the early 1960s. She was a singer with an innate sense of musicality, no doubt thanks to her academic background —piano lessons and voice training from age 7, then the Royal College of Music in London, and Julliard. The material on "Among the Stars," her only album, recorded late in 1964, covers a wide range, from sophisticated Noel Coward, to jazzman Gerry Mulligan with lyrics, to Jan Pierewiet, a South African folk song. Arranger Billy Byers made subtle use of the fact that Miss Raff is an obviously jazz- oriented performer. His inventive arrangements left ample room for delivery while sustaining the mood of each tune, be it a soft ballad, or swinging up-tempo.
We Dig Pat Dahl
On this 1966 album, the luscious, blue-eyed, blonde Londoner (singer and dancer), with her versatile voice, unaffected articulation, subtle humor and sensuality, sings an eclectic track selection, which ranges from On the Good Ship Lollipop to I Who Have Nothing to Ten Cents a Dance. The lush, creative arrangements are due to the talent of Billy May, Lyn Murray, Benny Carter, Pete Rugolo, Shorty Rogers and Marty Paich, who made this album a perfect, if obscure, example of mid-’60s vocal pop.
"This is another in Jordi Pujol’s intriguing series The Best Voices That Time Forgot, devoted to forgotten singers.
South Africa born Renée Raff benefits from arranger Billy Byers’s superior arrangements on a selection of six standards together with six originals. She had a musical background that included piano and voice training at London’s Royal College Of Music followed by studies at the Julliard School Of Music with John Mehegan who was a friend of Leonard Bernstein.
Ms Raff’s clear diction and intimate delivery recall both Julie London and June Christy at times especially on Let There Be Love, Among The Stars, Mad About The Boy and April’s Fool. There are very few solo opportunities for the stellar ensemble but Buddy Collette has a brief flute outing on Starting Tomorrow and J.J. Johnson’s elegant trombone is heard on Gerry Mulligan’s Butterfly With Hiccups.
Pat Dahl, who studied at London’s Arts Education School, appeared in Jerry Lewis’s 1961 film The Errand Boy. She once enjoyed top billing at the London Palladium and appeared on several TV shows including her own TV series. Just like Ms Raff, this was her only album. It boasts charts by a veritable who’s-who of top Los Angeles arrangers such as Billy May, Lyn Murray, Marty Paich and Shorty Rogers.
Her pronounced vibrato and dramatic approach occasionally brings the great Lena Horne to mind on Stout Hearted Men, It’s Alright, What Now My Love and especially I Who Have Nothing. Ballads like Ten Cents A Dance, Someone To Watch Over Me and Benny Carter’s Lonely Woman are sensitively handled."
Gordon Jack (May 14, 2020)
"Renée Raff performed with her trio at Feinstein’s/54 Below in New York in November 2019, and they are scheduled for a return engagement on 19 May! She quit performing for many years and returned about 10 years ago. In the last few years, she has performed with her trio at Don’t Tell Mama in New York and the WDNA Jazz Gallery in Miami.
Ms. Raff was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1934. She began singing and accompanying herself on the piano at age six. Nat “King” Cole was her main musical influence. At age 19 she went to London to study piano and singing at the Royal College of Music. After she received her degree, she began performing professionally in clubs in London and on tours. The clubs included Ronnie Scott’s, Grosvenor House, Les Ambassadeurs, and Leslie Hutchinson’s Casanova. She moved to New York where she studied piano and voice at Juilliard, and had a jazz trio as early as 1965. Also in 1965, according to a contemporary news article, she had a two year old child and a six year old child. She performed regularly in clubs in New York throughout the 1960s, including Jilly’s Saloon, which was a favourite hangout for Frank Sinatra. Pianist Erroll Garner would listen to her there and say, “Baby, you’ve got good time.” In 1980 she performed at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, but that is all I could find about her until her recent reemergence.
In an article by Emily Smith in the 21 December 2017 edition of the “New York Post” newspaper, she wrote, “Perfectly preserved cabaret star Renée Raff, who is 80, performed on Thursday night at Don’t Tell Mama, and joked to the crowd that she always “makes sure that my ear doctor, eye doctor and dentist are always in the audience, just in case.” For about the past five years, she has collaborated with double bassist Jay Leonhart, and at their recent Feinstein’s/54 Below gig, they celebrated this by teaming up with jazz clarinetist Ken Peplowski. For the 19 May engagement, jazz trumpeter Bryan Lynch will replace Mr. Peplowski.
“Among the Stars” is Ms. Raff’s sole album. The original liner notes do not indicate if she plays piano on it. It was arranged and conducted by Billy Byers, and recorded in New York in 1964 and released in 1965. Mr. Byers was a jazz trombonist and arranger, and he worked over the years as a performer and/or arranger with musicians including Benny Goodman, Buddy Rich, Quincy Jones, Count Basie, Coleman Hawkins, Billy Eckstine, Carmen McRae, and Frank Zappa. The arrangements have a relaxed, jazz quality. A few have a Bossa Nova influence, and a couple even have a slight country sound mixed-in. Overall, they hold-up more than a half century later. The selection contains eight original songs and four standards (“Willow Weep for Me,” “Let There Be Love,” “Mad About the Boy,” and “Little Girl Blue,” which weaves the aforementioned country music sound into the otherwise jazzy orchestration). One of the originals is “Jan Pierewiet,” which is a catchy South African folk song. Her style is intimate and laid-back, and her voice has a unique quality. She reminds me somewhat of Joanie Sommers, because her voice has the same slight raspiness to it, and her interpretations on the up-tempo songs have similarities. This is compounded by the fact that the arrangements put me in mind of those of Ms. Sommers’ 1967 “Come Alive!” album, which was arranged and conducted by Mort Garson. But there is also definitely an influence by the Anita O’Day/June Christy/Chris Connor style. Even so, she still has her own original sound which the arrangements highlight well. She provides an excellent and moody rendition of “Willow Weep for Me,” which is the highlight of the album.
Pat Dahl was born Patricia Bernadette McLauchlan in Glasgow, Scotland on 8 October 1933. Her father was a bookmaker. She began her career there as one of the famed “Tiller Girls,” precision dancers famous for their high-kicking routines. The first troupe was founded by John Tiller in Manchester, England in 1899, and eventually there were dozens of troupes around the world. Her career began to gain traction when she was a member of the cast of “The Dave King Show” at the London Hippodrome from November 1956-June 1957, and as a singer at Pigalle Restaurant London from January-April 1959 in the revue “Champagne Shower.” She had her own TV series titled “Programme for Pat.” From 1959- 69 she was married to American TV director Frank Bunetta. She had bit parts in two Jerry Lewis movies, “The Errand Boy” in 1961 in which she sang a song titled “That’s the Way,” and “It’s Only Money” in 1962, appeared in one episode of the TV series “Combat!” in 1962, and appeared as herself and sang “My Man” on Jackie Gleason’s “American Scene Magazine” series in 1965 (which her husband directed). After she recorded “We Dig Pat Dahl” in Los Angeles in 1966, she appears to have left show business and public life.
This album is unusual because there are six different arrangers and conductors, who worked on two songs each. Adding to this is that they are a group of heavy-hitters: Billy May, Lyn Murray, Marty Paich, Benny Carter, Shorty Rogers, and Pete Rugolo. She has an excellent singing voice with the ability to adapt it to the styles of different songs. Sometimes she sounds like she could be the lead in a Broadway musical, belting it out to the back row, but she can also sing intimately and seductively. The song selection and some interpretations are quirky in the same way as early Barbra Streisand and Liza Minnelli albums, and most of Lana Cantrell’s albums. “Stout-Hearted Men,” arranged by Mr. May, is not performed in the usual rousing way, but languorously. “On the Good Ship Lollipop,” arranged by Mr. Paich, she sings it like an intimate love song. Reviews at the time compared it to Julie London’s interpretation of “The Mickey Mouse March,” which was done in a similar fashion. And “Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh!,” arranged by Shorty Rogers, is in a similar vein. But on “I’m In Love with the Honourable Mr. So and So” she sings out and sounds rather like Lena Horne. These last couple songs are two of the highlights of the album. These two women had very different styles, but what they had in common is they had a lot of talent. It is too bad that their first albums did not lead to additional ones and bigger careers, but that seems to be the lot of many of the singers in this Fresh Sound Records series."
David Colp (April, 2020)
IN TUNE International
"It's simply bewildering how many excellent vocalists have been overlooked over the years. Each of these single disc reissues of two albums is chock full of wonderful and personal singing that is going to make you wonder “how did I ever not know about this music?”. Well, wonder no more.
Renee Raff has a bedroom eyes of a voice and milks it with these 1964 West Coast Cool big band arrangements by Billy Byers and including JJ Johnson/tb, Jerome Richardson/fl, Hank Jones/p, Milt Hinton/b and Osie Johnson/dr. She gives a Left Bank bohemia to “Jan Pierewit” and is coy on “April Fool” while sizzling on a samba’d “Let there Be Love”. A slinky “Little Girl Blue” and breathy “Starting Tomorrow” percolate, while “Butterfly With Hiccups” is an absolute ringer. Who let her off her leash?
Pat Dahl is a kind of English version of Astrud Gilberto, wispy and come hither on “Stout-Hearted Men” and clever as she carries a torch on “Lollipop”. She’s backed by a 1966 collection of orchestras arranged and conducted by the likes of Billy May, Shorty Rogers, Benny Carter and Marty Paich, with the bands including Harry Edison/tp, Buddy Collette/reeds and Shelly Manne/dr. There’s a twinkle in her eye on “I’m In Love With The Honorable Mr. So & So” and is luscious as she boils over on “Lonely Woman”. A hum dinger-any phone numbers come with this one?"
George W. Harris (April 13, 2020)