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Ray Ventura

French bandleader Ray Ventura has rightly been compared with England's Jack Hylton; during the 1920s and '30s both men succeeded in popularizing jazz and U.S. dance music in their respective countries by purveying accessible foxtrots sprinkled with real jazz solos and peppered with pop and novelty vocals. The younger Ventura was born in Paris on April 16, 1908. Beginning in 1924 he played piano in a group called the Collegiate Five; in 1928 this band began recording for Columbia as the Collegians, and the following year they began operating as Ray Ventura's Collegians, steadily cutting records for a succession of labels as their popularity crested throughout the 1930s. The orchestra's star soloists were trumpeter Philippe Brun, trombonist Guy Paquinet, and saxophonist/clarinetist Alix Combelle. Other key players were Belgian trumpeter Gus Deloof, U.S. multi-instrumentalist Spencer Clark and Django Reinhardt's brilliant string bassist Louis Vola. After Nazi Germany invaded France in 1940, Ventura (who was endangered because of his Jewish ancestry) dissolved his orchestra and relocated to Lyon, where he sent out a call for his Collegians to reassemble for a tour of Southern France. The new band, now fortified with trumpeter Pierre Allier, trombonist Eugene d'Hellemes and saxophonist Andre Ekyan, gave a farewell performance in Cahors then squeezed across the Spanish border and into Madrid. Arrangements were made for the entire orchestra to head for Cadiz and board an ocean liner bound for Rio de Janeiro, where they disembarked on December 24 1941.

Booked into the Casino da Urca, Ray Ventura et ses Collegiens gradually won over the public, especially after vocalist Henri Salvador did his impersonation of Popeye the Sailor Man. The band stayed on for several months, then toured inland and southwards toward Montevideo, Uruguay, where they opened in June 1942. The following month they made for the heart of Buenos Aires and began serenading patrons at various nightclubs and theaters along the Avenue Corrientes, including the prestigious Tabaris Cabaret between Suipacha and Esmeralda. Throughout the remainder of 1942 Ventura's Collegians made numerous recordings for the Odeon label, but then work dried up and the group came apart at the seams. Several members immediately found employment with Argentine jazz groups, and Vola formed his own recording ensemble along the lines of the Quintet of the Hot Club of France. Never one to stand around waiting for things to happen, Ventura formed yet another band, combining musicians and repertoire from Europe and the Americas, and recommenced recording for Odeon. After gigging once again in Rio de Janeiro, the band disintegrated and Ventura returned to Europe via North America. The next time he led an ensemble, it was performing a mixture of old hits, U.S. pop, and jazz standards and Latin American dance tunes.

Ventura, who ultimately became a theatrical producer, composer, and screenwriter, had begun to appear in motion pictures with and without his orchestra in the late 1930s; he starred in Feux de Joie, Tourbillon de Paris and Mademoiselle S'Amuse, then directed La Memoire d'un Heros. In 1951 he starred in Nous Irons a Monte Carlo, then produced and acted in Monte Carlo Baby in 1953. In 1964 he produced Rolf Haedrich's thriller Stop Train 349. Ray Ventura passed away in Palma de Majorca, Spain on March 30, 1979. ~ arwulf arwulf
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Les Chansons Inoubliables

1. Mé Qué Mé Qué

4. Il Y A

5. Elle A Tout Ça

10. Prosper, Yop La Boum

12. C'est Comme Ça

13. Tout Va Trés Bien Madame La Marquise

16. Ma Doudou

20. Vel D'hiv

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Track List: Paris Je T'aime

1. Je Voudrais

4. La Mer

7. Miguel

10. Il Y Avait

11. Nymphéas

13. Je Te Veux

14. Les Amoureux Des Bancs Publics

15. Chic À Chiquito

16. C'est Comme Ça

21. La Romance De Paris

23. Bambino

26. Le Papa De Papa

27. J'ai Rendez-Vous Avec Vous

28. Les Pieds Dans Le Ruisseau

29. On M'appelle Simplet

34. La Belle De Cadix

37. La Musique Vient Par Ici

38. C'est À Capri

43. Qu'est-Ce Qu'on Attend Pour Être Heureux?

44. Le Gorille

45. C'est Le Printemps

50. Parce Que Ça Me Donne Du Courage

55. Ça Fait D'excellents Français

58. C'est Idiot, Mais C'est Marrant

62. Il Y A

63. Vel D'hiv

65. Méditerranée

66. Plombier Zingueur

x

Track List: France Music History Vol 1

5. J'ai Deux Amours

7. Qu'est-Ce Qu'on Attend Lm

8. Plus Bleu Que Tes Yeux

9. La Mer

10. Ne Me Quitte Pas

13. Aupres De Mon Arbre

18. L'amour Est Un Bouquet De Violettes

19. Irma La Douce

x

Track List: Les Cabarets De Montmartre

4. Mon Homme

5. Ma Pomme

7. Ca Vaut Mieux Que D'attraper La Scarlatine

12. Dédé De Montmartre

18. Retour À Montmartre

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Track List: 100% Rétro-Vol. 1

2. Valentine

3. Tout Va Très Bien, Madame La Marquise

5. Félicie Aussi

6. Les Feuilles Mortes

8. La Belle De Cadix

9. Roses De Picardie

10. Y'a D'la Joie

x

Track List: Can't Help Lovin' That Man

8. I Want To Be Bad

9. Gay Love

10. Am I Blue?

15. What Wouldn't I Do For That Man!

16. But I Can't Make A Man

23. Pu-Leeze! Mr. Hemingway

24. Come Up And See Me Sometime

25. Beach Boy

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Track List: Les Grandes Chansons Francaises

1. Mon Homme

4. Les Roses Blanches

5. Le Temps Des Cerises

8. Marinella

9. La Guinguette A Ferme Ses Volets

10. Y'a D'La Joie

17. J'ai Deux Amours

18. Tout Va Tres Bien, Madame La Marquise

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Track List: Les Chansons Sous L'Occupation

1. CA Sent Si Bon La France

2. On Ira Pendre Notre Linge Sur La Ligne Siegfried

3. Faut Pas Francine Ecouter Des Raconteurs

4. Bel Ami

5. Nuages

7. La Romance De Paris

9. Marechal Mous Voila

14. Quand Un Facteur S'envole

15. Tiens Tiens Tiens

19. Fleur De Paris

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Track List: Anthologie De La Chanson Francaise: 1939

8. Dede De Montmartre

9. Comme De Bien Entendu

15. Menilmontant

16. Le Soleil Et La Lune

17. Mam'zelle Clio

18. Felicie Aussi

20. Ca S'est Passe Un Dimanche

21. Ca Fait D'excellents Francais

22. Tiens Tiens Tiens

23. On Ira Pendre Notre Linge Sur La Ligne Siegfried

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