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The achievements of Percy Faith as arranger and conductor are so famous that they sometimes overshadow his equally brilliant gifts as a composer. This dazzling collection should remedy that situation, since it contains twelve of Percy’s compositions, displaying the variety of his interests and the lilt of his melodic inspiration.

Although Percy has included some of his compositions in other collections, this is the first album to be devoted entirely to his own music. What he has done for other composers (Richard Rodgers in South Pacific and The Sound of Music, Frederick Loewe in My Fair Lady, George Gerswhin in Porgy and Bess and The Columbia Album of George Gershwin and Victor Herbert in The Columbia Album of Victor Herbert) he now does for his own splendid songs.

Solidly grounded in classical music, Percy has also composed for the screen and written many popular songs, including the perennial favorite, My Heart Cries for You. His adaptation of The Song from Moulin Rouge became an international hit that is approaching sales of two million records. His arrangements of popular favorites amount to new creations, with their resourceful instrumentation, the diverting counterpoint, the clarity, the never-ending contrasts. “The line between composing and arranging is a thin one,” he has remarked.

Comments on the individual compositions in this collection were supplied by Robert Turner:

The opening theme of Goin’ Home Train, played by strings and punctuated with exclamatory chords in muted trumpets, expresses the happiness everyone feels on going home. The middle section is full of longing and expectancy. Finally the train pulls in, and there is a tart, final chord: journey’s over, what’s to come?

Quia Quia is in cha-cha style. Brassy, with energetic, short phrases against an insistent clamor in the rhythm section, it is as saucy as its title insinuates.

In the Pizzicato Polka the tone of the plucked strings is sometimes light and airy; sometimes combined humorously with the tones of a harpsichord.

Also lively in tempo and spirit is Go-Go-Po-Go. The melody is built on a distinctive broken-chord figure, which is heard later in variation.

Brazilian Sleigh Bells. Sleigh bells in Brazil? Well, there is snow occasionally in the south of Brazil. Percy has brought sleigh bells and Brazilian rhythms together with intriguing results. The excitement of a Rio street carnival pervades the entire piece, and there are many suggestions of Brazilian folk melody. As for instrumental interest—listen to the elaborate string figurations and the impudent trombone “slides,” and, in the coda, to the rhythmic staccato high in the piano part, supported by percussion.

The title number, Carefree, has a distinctive swinging theme in the solo piano. There are jaunty phrases for woodwinds, a new theme for strings, and a “cool” sax solo. Most interesting perhaps is the rhythmic design—really a complicated cross-rhythm, which emerges with logic and clarity. The basic meter is 3/4 , but it swings as in 4/4.

The tender melody of Lisa, first heard on strings, was written for Percy’s little granddaughter. It is derived from a 10-measure theme in Percy’s incidental music written for a radio version of Paul Gallico’s story, “The Snow Goose.” The mood is wistful throughout, and there is a touching ending in which the English horn, then flute, then violins, bear the musical message.

No One But You has a rich harmonic background and a flowing melodic line. The coda is quiet and rather reluctant, as though the story were too beautiful to end so soon. In the waltz, Caress, the orchestration is clear and light, the pizzicato string accompaniment full of grace. The run for the flutes, at the end, is tender and tantalizing.

Another bit of musical poetry, Blue is the Night, is one of the most interesting from the compositional point of view. The rapturous melody, first played by alto saxophone, contains some unusual melodic skips, and the shifting impressionistic color is due to the use of a modal scale (neither exactly major nor minor). In the background there is an elusive bongo beat.

Bouquet is lush, heady, romantic. Originally composed for the album of the same name and performed by the Percy Faith Strings, it is a fine example of the well-known Faith “sound.”

Souvenir is a piece in continental style, originally composed for Percy’s album “Bon Voyage.” It’s nostalgic melody is heard first in violas and saxophone in the minor, then repeated high in the strings in major. The coda, pizzicato, suggests an Italian folk song refrain, in which there are no words save the characteristic “la la.” The rhythm is the beguine, an equivalent of which can be found in France and Italy.

Having already offered his eager listeners “Carnival Rhythms” and “Fascinating Rhythms,” Percy Faith now turns to a group of “Carefree Rhythms” with a program of delectable light compositions. Music of the kind included in this collection has for some reason been, until recently, in no particular flavor in America. The English, with Eric Coates and similar composers, have had the field almost entirely to themselves. Lately, however, with the advent of Leroy Anderson and Percy Faith himself, the popular concert piece has been catching on and attaining considerable popularity. Such Faith personations as Delicado, Jamaican Rhumba and Amorada have ridden high on the hit lists, and program music has won an increasing acceptance.

“Carefree Rhythms” contains just that: rhythms that skim over the musical staff lightly and happily. And under Percy Faith’s direction, the orchestra attains a shimmering gloss that adds a rich sheen to the music. His collection opens with one of his own compositions, the merry Carefree, with Louis Stein at the piano. A classic from the Twenties, Kitten on the Keys by Zez Confrey, introduces two more outstanding popular pianists to the program, Stan Freeman and Bernie Leighton. Mr. Stein returns in another Faith composition, Nervous Gavotte, and a brilliant choral setting of the familiar The Hot Canary brings the group to its intermission.

Beginning again, the popular Syncopated Clock ticks off its lighthearted measures, giving way to another Confrey composition, Dizzy Fingers. In this number a Faith innovation is demonstrated, the Magic Voices. This technique consists in using a female chorus singing wordlessly as another instrument of the orchestra, treated as a unit of sound and color rather than one of verbal expression. The program continues with Richard Rodgers’ The March of Siamese Children from “The King and I,” and comes to a close with an amusing Faith re-creation of the racetrack, Fiddle Derby.

Apart from its pleasances as a group of amusing and tuneful concert pieces, this collection shows the fine talents of Percy Faith as composer and conductor. For many years the musical director of some of radio’s finest programs, he has consistently brought to records a superior musical intelligence. Whether serving as a suave accompanist for some of the country’s top vocalists, or presenting his own arrangements of popular songs, he has unfailingly offered top-flight musical fare. A single hearing of “Carefree Rhythms” is sufficient evidence of his craftsmanship as a conductor and arranger; a single hearing of his compositions offers proof of his creative gifts. All these are in “Carefree Rhythms,” plus the bounce and verve of eight gay and charming popular favorites.

In this collection of rhythms from south of the border, Percy Faith turns his masterful orchestrations to a group of familiar and not-so-familiar numbers to present a program of infectiously delightful melodies, all spiced with the captivating rhythms of the carnival. As in his previous collections, Percy Faith has polished these numbers to a fine sheen, giving them sumptuous arrangements and yet keeping the feeling fresh, light and merry.

All varieties of Latin American tempos are presented, and presented with a flair for their color and excitement that is unique. As Percy Faith has demonstrated in his previous orchestrations of similar music, his talent for the Latin carnival atmosphere is at once sympathetic and brilliant. While this program of Carnival Rhythms progresses from one stirring number to another, the swift interplay of orchestral tones and timbres produces an increasingly provocative effect.

As a staff arranger and conductor for the Canadian Broadcasting System, as the conductor of the Contented Hour for many seasons, and as one of Columbia’s top artists, Percy Faith has again and again produced a kind of orchestral settings that is inimitable. Using a large orchestra, he gives his listeners a remarkable exhibition of instrumental sonorities, cannily presented for the maximum emotional effect. And yet the size of the orchestra never governs the rhythm, which is kept steady and evident. In many settings for concert groups the tempos are varied so frequently that the forward movement of the song is lost; this is never so in a Faith arrangement. It is as if a concert orchestra were playing for a dance, and this adherence to the beat produces the effect of a greater freedom than would a constantly shifting rhythm.

In Carnival Rhythms, this is especially evident, for the rhythms of these numbers are as colorful as their melodies. The vivid exhilaration of carnival time flashes out of each of these Faith presentations to present a sort of short fiesta on record. From the torrid Jungle Fantasy through the kaleidoscopic shadings of Oye Negra, from the catchy Jamaican Rhumba (written by Arthur Benjamin as an encore piece for violist William Primrose) to the sultry Enlloro, this group of tropical rhythms offers a jubilant glimpse of carnival time in Latin America. Under Percy Faith’s baton, the orchestra gives brilliant readings of his arrangements, and the result is a program you will enjoy again and again.

Rock ‘n’ roll is generally presumed to be a young person’s game, so it may come as a surprise to learn that the best-selling instrumental of the rock era was a lush, richly orchestrated ballad credited to a 52-year-old conductor. Percy Faith was the conductor and his hit was The Theme From “A Summer Place.” It sold well over a million copies and topped the Bilbaord pop chart for nine weeks in early 1960.

Born in Toronto, Canada, April 7, 1908, Faith learned to play the violin by the time he was 7. He went on to study at the Toronto Conservatory of Music. He also played piano in a silent movie theater and the violin with several Canadian orchestras.

When Faith was 18 he severely damaged his hands trying to put out a fire at a clothing store operated by his sister. His violin-playing days were over but he continued in music, working as a conductor and arranger, joining the Canadian Broadcasting Company in 1933. He had his own show – “Music By Faith” – that was so popular in Canada it was picked up for broadcast in the U.S. by the Mutual Broadcasting System.

Faith relocated to the United States in 1940 as musical director for a radio series called “The Carnation Contented Hour.” In 1950, he was hired by Columbia Records’ head Mitch Miler to serve as an arranger and conductor for the label’s staff orchestra.

The Faith touch was soon heard on huge pop hits for Tony Bennett, including Because Of You (1950), Cold Cold Heart (1952) and Rags To Riches (1953). Faith also worked on big singles for Guy Mitchell, Rosemary Clooney, Frankie Laine and Doris Day.

Miller also encouraged Faith to record on his own and his first success came in 1950 when I Cross My Fingers, with a vocal by Russ Emery, was a Top 20 hit. All My Love, also issued in 1950, went Top 10. Faith closed out the year with Christmas In Killarney, which was a Top 30 song.

The hits kept coming in the early ‘50s. In 1951, he went Top 10 with On Top Of Old Smokey which sported the voice of Burl Ives. He also did well with When The Saints Go Marching In. Delicado, issued in the spring of 1952, went to No. 1 for a week.

In the spring of 1953, Faith’s recording of Swedish Rhapsody went on the charts where it would peak at No. 21. It’s flip side, Song From ‘Moulin Rouge’ (Where Is Your Heart), with a sweet vocal by Felicia Sanders, went on the Billboard list a month after Swedish Rhapsody. It would stay there for 24 weeks – 10 at No. 1 – and be cited as the best-selling record of 1953.

Later in ’53 Faith had a Top 20 record with Return To Paradise. Many Times was also popular that year. In 1954 he charted with Dream, Dream, Dream and The Bandit.

While Faith’s singles were being challenged by Elvis Presley and his pals, the conductor was doing well on the album charts. Adults were taken with his lush arrangements of standards and “Passport To Romance” was a Top 20 in the summer of 1956. “My Fair Lady,” with songs from the enormously popular Broadway musical, did even better, going Top 10 in 1957. A collection of songs from “Porgy And Bess” did well in 1959. In 1960, both “Bouquet” and “Jealousy” were Top 10 sellers.

In the early fall of 1959, Faith – who continued to release an occasional single – recorded the them from Warner Bros.’ “A Summer Place.” It was a steamy story of young love starring teen sensations Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue and adults Dorothy McGuire, Richard Egan and Arthur Kennedy. The single took almost six months to edge into Billboard’s Hot 100 in January 1960.

Once it got on the charts, the record moved quickly, and, after less than two months, it settled in at the top of the rankings for a nine-week run. It also won a Grammy as Record of the Year.

Despite his massive hit, Faith didn’t release an album based on the single. But he didn’t seem to need to as his albums of lush mood music continued to sell very well. In 1961, he was back in the Top 10 with music from “Camelot.” That was followed by popular collections featuring the music of Mexico and Brazil.

In 1963, Faith slightly altered his musical direction. He was still doing lush collections of instrumentals, but he switched from standards as his source to the Top 40. “Themes For Young Lovers” featured his 1960 hit of the same name and string-filled arrangements of teen hits like Go Away Little Girl, All Alone Am I and On Broadway. The sparkling sound of the album pushed it to Billboard’s Top 15 and eventual gold record status.

Faith continued to offer his versions of pop hits on “Shangri-La” and “Great Folk Themes.” In 1964, he was back with “More Themes For Young Lovers.”

Through the early ‘70s, Faith continued to record popular albums featuring his orchestra and chorus, including “Love Theme From Romeo And Juliet,” for which he received a 1969 Grammy for Best Contemporary Performance by a Chorus.

In all, Faith had 30 albums on the Billboard charts between 1956 and 1972. Three of them went gold.

Faith died of cancer February 9, 1976. He left a huge legacy of great music during his years on Columbia and Collectables is pleased to present some of the best of that work on this tribute to a man who spent more than 40 years bringing fine music to the work.

– Mark Marymount

“Christmas is…”

Christmas is children who just can’t go to sleep.
Christmas is mem’ries, the kind you always keep.
Deck the halls and give cheer
For all the things that Christmas is each year.
Christmas, Merry Christmas,
When all your wishes come true.

Christmas is carols to warm you in the snow.
Christmas is bedtime, where no one wants to go.
All the world is tinsel bright,
So glad to know that Christmas is tonight.
Christmas, Merry Christmas,
When all your wishes come true.
Christmas, Merry Christmas,
May all your wishes come true.

Percy Faith

“Christmas is…”

Christmas is children who just can’t go to sleep.
Christmas is mem’ries, the kind you always keep.
Deck the halls and give  cheer
For all the things that Christmas is each year.
Christmas, Merry Christmas,
When all your wishes come true.

Christmas is carols to warm you in the snow.
Christmas is bedtime, where no one wants to go.
All the world is tinsel bright,
So glad to know that Christmas is tonight.
Christmas, Merry Christmas,
When all your wishes come true.
Christmas, Merry Christmas,
May all your wishes come true.

Percy Faith

The music of George Gershwin played in this collection by Percy Faith and His Orchestra is discussed here chronologically, to help place it in perspective.

Somebody Loves Me

This song was unforgettably interpreted by Winnie Lightner in the Scandals of 1924. Its appeal is primarily melodic, for in this song Gershwin tapped the rich, full-blooded lyricism that henceforth would identify his best love songs. Gershwin’s way of suddenly interpolating a flatted third in the melody here personalized his writing. The nebulous harmony was also a part of the song’s charm. “Somebody Loves Me” was one of Gershwin’s greatest hits after “Swanee.”

Oh, Lady Be Good and Fascinatin’ Rhythm

Lady Be Good was Gershwin’s first major musical-comedy success. It opened on December 1, 1924, the first musical produced by the new team of Aarons and Freedley, who were to be associated with so many Gershwin musicals. Fred and Adele Astaire were starred. Cast as a brother-and-sister dancing act who had come upon unhappy days.

Gershwin’s music was the principal attraction of this gay musical. Never before had he brought such a wealth of original invention to his stage music. The irresistible appeal the repeated triplets in the title song, the kinesthetic effect of the changing meters in “Fascinatin’ Rhythm”—all this represented a new sophistication in popular music.

The Man I Love

The best song Gershwin wrote for Lady Be Good was not in the show when it opened in New York. It has since become one of the Gershwin song classics, and the one song he often considered his greatest. But before it finally achieved recognition it had an eventful history. The chorus as it is known today originated as the verse for another song; but Gershwin soon realized that the individual melody consisted of a six-note blues progression that reappeared through with cumulative effect, achieving poignancy through the contrapuntal background of a descending chromatic scale. In rewriting his song, Gershwin now used the verse as the chorus, and prefaced it with a simple but appealing introductory tune.

“The Man I Love” was sung by Adele Astaire in the opening scene of the Philadelphia tryout of Lady Be Good. In that setting the song missed aim completely; it was too static. Vinton Freedley insisted that it be dropped from the show, and Gershwin consented. In 1927, Gershwin removed the song from his shelf and incorporated it into the score he was then writing for Strike Up the Band (first version). Once again it was tried out of town, was found wanting, and was deleted.

But the song found admirers. One of them was Otto H. Kahn, to whom Gershwin played it when he planned using it for Lady Be Good. Kahn liked the song so much that he decided to invest $10,000 in the musical. Another admirer was Lady Louis Mountbatten, to whom Gershwin presented an autographed copy in New York. When she returned to London, Lady Mountbatten arranged for the Berkeley Square Orchestra to introduce the song there. It became such a success that—though no printed copies were available in England—it was picked up by many other jazz groups in Paris, where it also caught on. American visitors to London and Paris heard the song and, returning home, asked for it. Then singers and orchestras took it up until its acceptance in this country became complete.

Gershwin has explained that the reason it took so long for the song to be appreciated is that the melody of the chorus, with its chromatic pitfalls, was not easy to catch; also, when caught, it was not easy to sing or whistle or hum without a piano accompaniment.

Preludes Two and Three

On December 4, 1926, at the Hotel Roosevelt in New York, Marguerite d’Alvarez, the operatic contralto, gave a serious song recital that included French and Spanish art songs. Gershwin participated, not only by accompanying her in his songs, but also by appearing as piano soloist. On this occasion, he gave the world premiere of his Preludes for the piano.

The second, in C-sharp minor (Andante con moto e poco rubato) is the most famous of the set: a poignant three-part blues melody set against an exciting harmony that grows richer as the melody unfolds. Rhythm once again predominates in the third prelude, in B-flat major (Allegretto ben ritmatto e deciso), an uninhibited outburst of joyous feeling.

Clap Yo’ Hands, Maybe, and Someone to Watch over Me

Oh, Kay, in 1926, was the first American musical comedy starring Gertrude Lawrence, who had made her Broadway debut in 1924 in the Charlot’s Revue imported from London. When Aarons and Freedley discussed with her the possibility of coming to New York in a new musical, she was considering a similar offer from Ziegfeld. The information that George Gershwin would write the music was the deciding factor in her acceptance of the Aarons and Freedley contract.

The Gershwin score was a rich cache of treasures, “a marvel of its kind,” as Percy Hammond Reported. To no other musical production up to this time had he been so lavish in his gifts. There was “Someone to Watch over Me,” in his most soaring and beguiling lyric vein touched with the glow of Gertrude Lawrence’s charm, “Clap Yo’ Hands,” with its fascinating rhythms, and “Maybe.”

‘S Wonderful

In 1927, Aarons and Freedley built a new theater for their productions, the Alvin on West 52nd Street. It was a house that Gershwin had helped build with the profits from Lady Be Good, Tip Toes and Oh, Kay. What, then was more appropriate than that it should be opened on November 22 with a new Gershwin musical? The musical was Funny Face, in which Fred and Adele Astaire made their first welcome return in a Gershwin musical since Lady Be Good. Victor Moore was also in the cast, appearing as a helpless, hapless thug who gets involved in all sorts of difficulties while trying to steal a string of pearls. “’S Wonderful” was the hit of the show.


“Liza” was a particular favorite of Gershwin’s. He continually played it for friends, frequently with improvised variations. It appeared in Show Girl, a lavish Ziegfeld production, in 1929. Ruby Keeler sang and danced to its tantalizing rhythms, as her husband Al Jolson ran up and down the aisles singing the refrain to his wife—for several nights an unscheduled, unexpected and unpaid-for attraction.


With Strike Up the Band, in 1929, a new kind of musical came to Times Square. This was no longer just a spectacular for the eye and an opiate for the senses—as had been the case with so many earlier Gershwin musicals—but a bitter satire on war, enlisting all the resources of good theatre….It was first launched in 1927…and was abandoned. In 1929, the authors returned to the play….It brought new dimensions to musical comedy by being one of the first with a pronounced political consciousness.

The Gershwin score—which was published in its entirety—is not only rich in details. Individual songs stand out prominently, “Soon” is one of Gershwin’s most beautiful ballads, unforgettable for its purple mood.

Embraceable You, Bidin’ My Time, I Got Rhythm

Girl Crazy, one of Gershwin’s greatest musical-comedy successes, began a long run at the Alvin Theatre on October 14, 1930. The book, by Bolton and MacGowan, was no better—and no worse—than earlier ones for which Gershwin supplied the music….One of the things that made Girl Crazy as good as it was—“a never-ending bubbling of pure joyousness,” as one New York critic described it—was the casting. Ginger Rogers, fresh from her first screen triumph in Young Man of Manhattan, here made her bow on the Broadway stage. Willie Howard brought his accent and uninhibited comedy to the part of Gieber Goldfarb. Allen Kearns, veteran of many Gershwin musicals, was cast in the male lead. Each of these gave a performance calculated to steal the limelight. But the limelight belonged not to any of them, but to a young and then still unknown lady whose personality swept through the theater like a tropical cyclone, and whose large, brassy voice struck the consciousness of the listeners like a sledge hammer. She was Ethel Merman, in her first appearance in musical comedy….In “I Got Rhythm” she threw her voice across the footlights the way Louis Armstrong does the tones of a trumpet. When, in the second chorus, she held a high C for sixteen bars, while the orchestra continued with the melody, the theater was hers: not only the Alvin theatre, but the musical theater as well. “I Got Rhythm” is remarkable in its chorus not only for the agility of the changing rhythms, but also for the unusual melody made up of a rising and falling five-note phrase in the pentatonic scale.

“Embraceable You,” the hit song of the production, belongs to the half dozen or so of Gershwin song classics in which his melodic writing is most expressive.


In 1933, many of those who had helped make the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Of Thee I Sing” the historic occasion it was in the theater, joined forces for a sequel entitled Let ‘Em Eat Cake….There was much that was bright and witty and stinging; but the play as a whole did not quite jell. The critics and audiences rejected the play and it failed to reach its hundredth performance on Broadway.

On the positive side was one of Gershwin’s important songs, “Mine.” This was a pioneer attempt to use a vocal counterpoint for the main melody (a practice subsequently employed so effectively by Frank Loesser in “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and Irving Berlin in “You’re Just in Love”). The vocal counterpoint consists in an aside by the chorus which carries overtones of Gilbert and Sullivan.

I Got Plenty o’ Nuttin’, Summertime, Bess, you Is My Woman Now, My Man’s Gone Now

The writing of Porgy and Bess occupied Gershwin for about twenty months. Most of the actual composition was done in about eleven months and completed in mid-April 1935. While some of the orchestration for the first act had been done in September 1934, that task consumed about eight months in 1935. Then it was completed: seven hundred neat and compact pages of written music (560 pages of the published vocal score), which if performed as written would require four and a half hours. During rehearsals, cuts had to be made in order to compress the opera within the prescribed limits of a normal evening at the theater.

Porgy and Bess opened at the Colonial Theatre in Boston on September 30, 1935. The audience began early to demonstrate its enthusiasm, and by the time the opera ended the ovation reached such proportions that the shouts and cries lasted over fifteen minutes….Two weeks later, on the evening of October 10, Porgy and Bess came to New York, to the Alvin Theatre….

They Can’t Take That Away from Me, They All Laughed, A Foggy Day, Nice Work if You Can Get it, Love Is Here to Stay, Love Walked in

After 1935, and up to the time of his death, Gershwin worked exclusively for motion pictures. His first film, during this period, was a Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musical, Shall We Dance?, described by The New York Times as “One of the best things the screen’s premiere dance team has done, a zestful, prancing, sophisticated musical.” Gershwin’s score was a gold mine, and two of the treasures were the deft and suave “They Can’t Take That Away from Me” and “They All Laughed.”

One chore completed, Gershwin went to work for another screen musical. The star once again was Fred Astaire, but this time he was paired with a new dancing partner, Joan Fontaine. This film, A Damsel in Distress, would not have been “half so good without the splendid Gershwin melodies,” reported Howard Barnes in the New York Herald Tribune. The best of these melodies were “A Foggy Day” and “Nice Work if You Can Get It.”

Gershwin’s last score was for the Goldwyn Follies, for which he did not live to complete. He was able to write only five numbers for that production, and for some of those Vernon Duke had to provided the verses. Since two of these Gershwin songs are among his most beautiful—“Love Is Here to Stay” and “Love Walked in”—it is apparent that even in his last troublesome months there was no creative disintegration, and that when he died so prematurely he was still at the height of his melodic powers.

For You, for Me, for Evermore

Manuscripts left behind by Gershwin were explored for possibilities, and in 1947 a new motion picture, The Shocking Miss Pilgrim with Betty Grable, offered a “new” and posthumous score, with lyrics, by the irreplaceable Ira. Several of the songs became popular, the most lasting of them being “For You, for Me, for Evermore.”

In 1950, Percy Faith began his association with Columbia Records, one that would last for close to three decades. Faith was already a well-known conductor in his home country of Canada when he came to NBC in 1940, as musical director, after serving in a similar capacity for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

In both positions, he composed and arranged music for guest vocalists, as well as providing incidental or background music for special programming. Holiday music, folk songs, Broadway standards and novelty tunes — Faith developed his talent to adapt all styles of music and integrate them into a format that was pleasing to listen to, as well as commercially appealing.

Besides his duties arranging and producing Columbia artists like Tony Bennett, Guy Mitchell and Johnny Mathis, as well as assisting Mitch Miller, head of the Artist and Repertoire division, Faith was also a recording artist in his own right.

In the pre-rock years of the early 1950s, popular music was still dominated by the after-effects of the Big Band era. Recordings of the day usually began with an opening instrumental piece by the band, with a guest vocalist making his or her appearance around verse two.

The focus of this CD reissue is the first recordings Percy Faith made under his own name for Columbia, predominantly released as singles, in hopes of breaking into the hit parade. In 1950 and 1951, Faith had not yet developed the sonic signature that would make him the dominant easy listening artist of his day, and the most commercially successful one as well. Muzak had been incorporated, but had still not become entrenched as de rigueur in the modern workplace.

The hand of Mitch Miller is evident in the song selections. Miller steered Rosemary Clooney to Come-On-A-My House and Frank Sinatra to Bim Bam Baby. So it was no surprise that for every standard like They Can’t Take That Away From Me and I Talk To Trees Faith recorded, there are songs like Tzin-Tzun-Tzan and Zing Zing - Zoom Zoom.

Faith did have some commercial success with these singles. I Cross My Fingers, featuring Russ Emery on lead vocal went to Number Twenty in the summer of 1950, Faith’s first appearance on the charts. When The Saints Go Marching In, featuring trombonist Will Bradley, was a Top Thirty record in 1951. Shortly thereafter, I Want To Be Near You with Peter Hanley on lead vocal also went Top Thirty that same year.

Every artist needs a period of growth before he refines his style to its essence. In the early recordings, Faith was using elements like wordless vocals, lush string passages, and Latin rhythms, that he would use in later recordings to a greater effect. Also, sound recording technology would develop so that by the time Percy Faith would have his real breakthrough hit in 1960 with The Theme From “A Summer Place,” his records sounded like no other on the transistor dial.

In much the same way that Elvis Presley defined his genre of music — rockabilly — with his personal sonic imprint, so Percy Faith also did to easy listening. Along with Joe Meek and Phil Spector, two other early popular music pioneers, his recordings were just slightly ahead of his time to be considered both innovative, yet still be immensely popular with the public.

So these recordings, and the singles released on Volume 2 (1952-1958) (COL 7636) are an interesting glimpse into the mind of an artist in transition. These 45s were made to catch the public’s imagination with a particular song. When Percy Faith and Columbia Records discovered that selling the “Percy Faith Sound” was more crucial, then his string of successful albums in the Sixties and Seventies began. That corporate vision would extend to labelmates Andre Kostelanetz and Ray Conniff as well, both master practitioners of the easy listening genre.

These long unavailable songs add to the body of work of one of America’s most successful recording artists. Percy Faith was a product of his times, the optimism of a man-made paradise in the middle of a turbulent world, and an oasis of calm in a metropolitan storm. That is his legacy.

—Al Fichera


The preparation and production of this latest album by Percy Faith has followed a pattern perfected by Percy over twenty-five years, a way of making music which time and again has resulted in chart hits and treasured collections of unexpected variety. The pattern begins with the search for songs, a search which includes all that is new and all that is memorable in popular music, which covers the musical language of three or four continents, which concludes with more than enough material for three orchestras. Then the final choices are made by the only man who will hear the album during the month of writing, but it is his satisfaction, his excitement over what he hears on each of those silent mornings that we hear now.

If you now Percy—and you know him by his music—you know now why he is excited all over again. Here is his pattern of recording: the insistent Latin excitement of Delicado, the surprising originality of Swedish Rhapsody, the string beauty of Theme from “A Summer Place,” the wild power of Malaguena. Here too, is the best of his own composition, the pioneering orchestral sound, and, as always, music from faraway places, music by young writers, music by jazzmen, music for love.

So, in the order of the final program, Percy plays Carle King’s Corazón, a brief and memorable melody ripe for a rhythmic fling. The orchestra here includes three guitars, three girls in Spanish, and three keyboards, one of which is Faith at the piano.

Beautiful Obsession was an instrumental hit a dozen years ago. Written by Ernie Freeman and Joe Saraceno, it is the sort of melody Percy has found many times before to set against his way. It’s a melody suited to dialogue for strings and flutes.

The opportunity for full power and for a first crescendo comes with Lalo Schifrin’s theme for the motion picture “Enter The Dragon.” Solos are by Clark Gassman on electric piano, Pete Christlieb on tenor saxophone, and Bill Mays on organ.

Alex Harvey’s ballad hit of three years ago, Someone Who Cares, rediscovered by Faith and his producer, takes the sound back to the strings, where, while they were searching, they also chose Percy’s own ballad, Our Love.

The side ends with a song from Italy’s San Remo Festival, Vado Via. For Percy it is an echo of his first album hits of continental music.

Back to Hollywood’s Greek Theatre and Neil Diamond’s Crunchy Granola Suite, arranged now for brass, reeds and voices. Part of Percy’s continuing success has always been his recognition of the best from young writers.

Faith wrote My Heart Cries For You in 1951 with Carl Sigmund and gave it to a young singer named Guy Mitchell. It became Mitchell’s first hit and has since been recorded a couple of hundred times by everybody except Percy. Now it is his, but to establish new rights to his old song he has changed it from a waltz to a four-beat form.

Pata Pata, the unexpected, is part of the expected in a Faith album. The song comes from South Africa, but then, we’ve become accustomed to this Toronto-born conductor foraging south of the equator.

Victor Young wrote When I Fall In Love for a Howard Hughes film called “One Minute to Zero.” That was twenty years ago, but the song, unlike the picture, lives on.

And, finally, to jazz. Freddie Hubbard’s First Light is Percy’s choice because he likes the first, fresh moment when only the grass is talking, and because he saw an opportunity to give his large orchestra its head. Bill Mays plays the electric piano solo.

This, then, is a Percy Faith album in the fullest dimensions. It is his kind of album because it uses all of his talents, because it includes all that for him is musical. He was excited throughout its production. Now he is proud. You know that. You can hear it.

Irving Townsend

As a country music singer and song writer it's always a great thrill to have someone like Percy Faith interpret country songs in his own very special way. The music takes on another dimension and, for me, even greater enjoyment!

Tammy Wynette