ATTLEBORO — A free performance by a 17-piece big band, the fabulous Dan Gabel and The Abletones, will climax a tribute to the centennial of Attleboro music legend Ray Conniff on Sunday, July 16 at Capron Park.
Over the past five years, a contribution from a generous anonymous donor has funded the concerts in honor of Conniff, multimillion selling artist, bandleader, arranger and music innovator who was beloved around the world. Conniff’s multi-faceted career included a Grammy Award and collaborations with many equally legendary artists ranging from Rosemary Clooney to Johnny Mathis.
Conniff’s career also featured 13 gold records of his own, including three platinum albums. He achieved a Grammy in 1966 for his recording of the love theme from the David Lean film “Dr. Zhivago.”
The July 16 capstone concert will be held 2 p.m. in the park’s Newell Shelter.
Conniff was born Nov. 6, 1916, the son of musician parents. Learning to play trombone from his bandleader father, he formed a dance orchestra with Attleboro High School classmates. Studying at Juilliard after graduation, Conniff joined the legendary Bunny Berigan in 1937 beginning a run with a series of big-name big bands. He collaborated on hits for a number of ‘50s icons including Guy Mitchell, Frankie Laine, Johnny Ray and Marty Robbins.
But his best known collaboration, spreading over several years, was with velvet-voiced Johnny Mathis beginning with number one hit “Chances Are.” Other Conniff-arranged Mathis hits included “It’s Not for Me to Say” and “Wonderful, Wonderful.”
Beginning in 1957, Conniff began a remarkable recording career in his own name selling millions of records with popular hits using his orchestra and chorus.
His unique approach to easy listening music included using female voices to double higher-register instruments such as flutes and male voices layering deeper-toned instruments like trombones.
Conniff’s musical gifts and warm personality made him a popular performer not only in America but on many international tours.