Ray Starita

Elsie Carlisle’s recordings in 1932 with Ray Starita  and His Ambassadors are amongst her best. It is also worth noting that he played the tenor sax in her 1927 recordings with the Gilt-Edged Four.

The Starita Family – John Wright

“Stop the Sun, Stop the Moon” (1932)

“Stop the Sun, Stop the Moon.” Words and music by Hartwell “Harty” Cook, W. Mercer Cook, and J. Russel Robinson. Recorded by Ray Starita and His Ambassadors with vocalist Elsie Carlisle on September 1, 1932. Four-in-One 6 mx. S2557-2.

Personnel: Ray Starita-reeds dir. Nat Gonella-t / tb / prob. Chester Smith-reeds / Nat Star-reeds / George Glover-reeds-vn / George Hurley-vn / George Oliver-g / Arthur Calkin-sb / Rudy Starita-d-vib-x1

Ray Starita and His Ambassadors (w. Elsie Carlisle) – "Stop the Sun, Stop the Moon" (1932)

Ray Starita and His Ambassadors (w. Elsie Carlisle) – “Stop the Sun, Stop the Moon” (1932)

“Stop the Sun, Stop the Moon (My Man’s Gone)”2 is a 1932 composition by Harty Cook, Mercer Cook, and J. Russel Robinson (the latter two also produced the popular “Is I in Love? I Is” that same year). In this song, the singer makes almost Biblical demands for the powers of nature — and technology, for that matter — to cease their usual operations, for she has lost her man. This sort of theme was suited to Elsie Carlisle’s dramatic manner of delivery, and in this recording her impassioned complaint serves as a fitting summation to the pulsating instrumental interpretation of the tune by Ray Starita and His Ambassadors’ Band. They would do another take of the song that day with Elsie, and it appears on Sterno 1028.

There were recordings of “Stop the Sun, Stop the Moon” in America that year by Joel Shaw and His Orchestra (with vocals by Dick Robertson), Dick Robertson and His Orchestra (with vocalist Chick Bullock), the Dorsey Brothers’ Orchestra (with the Boswell Sisters), Chick Bullock and His Levee Loungers (with Chick Bullock singing), the Ted Dahl Orchestra, and Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra (with vocalist Mildred Bailey).

In addition to the two record sides made by Ray Starita with Elsie Carlisle, there was a 1932 British version of “Stop the Sun, Stop the Moon” by Ambrose and His Orchestra (with vocalist Sam Browne).

Notes:

  1. According to Brian Rust and Sandy Forbes, British Dance Bands on Record (1911-1945) and Supplement (1989), p. 1021.
  2. The subtitle of the song is also found as “My Gal’s Gone” when the singer is a man.

“Leave Me Alone with My Dreams” (1932)

“Leave Me Alone with My Dreams.” Written by Joseph George Gilbert (1932). Recorded by Ray Starita and His Ambassadors, with Elsie Carlisle as vocalist, on March 2, 1932. Sterno 923.

Personnel: Ray Starita-cl-ts dir. Sid Buckman-Nat Gonella-t / tb / probably :- Chester Smith-cl-as-bar-o / Nat Star-cl-as / George Glover-cl-ts-vn / George Hurley-vn / Harry Robens-p / George Oliver-bj-g / Arthur Calkin-sb / Rudy Starita d-vib-x1

Ray Starita, Leave Me Alone With My Dreams

Ray Starita – “Leave Me Alone With My Dreams”

Transfer by Mick Johnson (YouTube)

1932 was the year of Elsie Carlisle’s collaboration with Ray Starita’s Ambassadors’ Band; their output includes “Let That Be a Lesson to You,” “I Heard,” and “On a Dreamy Afternoon.” Even though she only sings for 46 seconds in their recording of “Leave Me Alone with My Dreams,” she adds a memorably wistful touch to this mellow foxtrot. In the lone verse allotted to her she alludes to the loving affection she hopes to enjoy in a fantasy world into which she has retreated. The conceit is simple yet poignant.

The music and lyrics were written by Joseph George Gilbert, who is better known for his collaborations (as lyricist) with Lawrence Wright (who often went under the pseudonym “Horatio Nicholls”). “Leave Me Alone with My Dreams” was also recorded in April 1932 by the New BBC Dance Orchestra (directed by Henry Hall, with vocals by Val Rosing, in a Douglas Brownsmith arrangement), and by Arthur Lally (Sam Brown, vocalist).

Notes:

  1. Brian Rust and Sandy Forbes, British Dance Bands on Record (1911-1945) and Supplement, p. 1020.

“On a Dreamy Afternoon” (1932)

“On a Dreamy Afternoon.” Lyrics by Robert Hargreaves and Stanley J. Damerell, with music by Montague Ewing (1932).  Recorded by Ray Starita and His Ambassadors’ Band on September 15, 1932, with vocals by Elsie Carlisle.  Four-in-One 7.

Personnel: Ray Starita-cl-ts dir. Nat Gonella-t / t / tb / prob. Chester Smith-cl-as-bar-o / Nat Star-cl-as / George Glover-cl-ts-vn / George Hurley-vn / Harry Robens-p / George Oliver-bj-g / Arthur Calkin-sb / Rudy Starita-d-vib-x

Ray Starita & His Ambassadors w. Elsie Carlisle – "On a Dreamy Afternoon" (1932)

Ray Starita and His Ambassadors w. Elsie Carlisle – “On A Dreamy Afternoon” (1932)

“On a Dreamy Afternoon” was composed by Montague Ewing, who was known for his light music. The lyricists Hargreaves and Damerell (who sometimes used the joint pseudonym “Erell Reaves”) more frequently collaborated with composer Tolchard Evans, turning out such popular tunes as “Lady of Spain” and “If.”

Ray Starita’s version of “On a Dreamy Afternoon” was made in 1932, the last year of his recording career and one of the best, when his band included such greats as Nat Gonella and Nat Star. It was also the only year he used Elsie Carlisle as a vocalist, though he did so quite a bit, turning out excellent recordings of “Kiss by Kiss,” “Let That Be a Lesson to You,” and “I Heard,” amongst others. “On a Dreamy Afternoon” has music and lyrics that are mellow and atmospheric and showcase nicely the sweet quality of Elsie’s voice — this is definitely not one of her torch songs, and there is nothing particularly naughty in it — it is soothingly beautiful and romantic.

The recording in the YouTube video above is one of two takes of the song recorded by Ray Starita with Elsie Carlisle that day; the other appears on Sterno 1026:


Other versions of this song were recorded in October 1932 by Arthur Lally (Maurice Elwin, vocalist), Jack Hylton and His Orchestra (with vocals by Pat O’Malley; hear the unissued take 3 on jackhylton.com), and Carroll Gibbons and the Savoy Hotel Orpheans, with Cavan O’Connor singing).

“I Heard” – Ray Starita with Elsie Carlisle (1932)

“I Heard.”  Words and music by Don Redman (1931).  Recorded by Ray Starita and His Ambassadors’ Band with Elsie Carlisle on September 1, 1932.  Four-in-One 5.

“I Heard” – Ray Starita and His Ambassadors’ Band (with Elsie Carlisle)

Video by David Weavings (YouTube)

“I Heard” is a novelty song written by the American musician, bandleader, and composer Don Redman.  It involves interlocutors who discuss a piece of apparently scandalous  gossip, but who cut each other off so as to leave the listener in the dark as to the real nature of the rumor.  This 1932 British recording was made by the great American-born bandleader Ray Starita and his Ambassadors’ Band.  Elsie Carlisle plays the person who has heard the rumor, and there is a male speaker who questions her, doubts her, and eggs her on.  The latter was once thought to be Ray Starita himself, although it is now more generally supposed that it is Les Allen.

This recording of “I Heard” appears on a Four-in-One record.  As the name would suggest, Four-in-One records pushed the limits of technology by fitting two songs onto each side of the disc, the result being a bargain for the record buyer.  The downside of their concept is that the grooves are a bit narrower than usual and thus more prone to being scratched up by repeated playing.  In the same recording session, Starita and Elsie did a separate take for the Sterno label, which used the more typical one-song-per-side approach.  The Sterno recording is quite similar for the most part, but the violin solo is rather different and does not reach into such a high register.

The composer, Don Redman, recorded two versions of “I Heard” in late 1931 (here and here), and in 1933 appeared in a Betty Boop short of the same title.  In 1932 it was recorded by Harlan Lattimore and His Connie’s Inn Orchestra, as well as by Chick Bullock.  The Mills Brothers did a particularly popular 1932 version that led to their appearance singing it in the 1934 film Twenty Million Sweethearts.

In Britain in 1932, other recordings of “I Heard” were made by the Savoy Hotel Orpheans (Al Bowlly, vocalist), Billy Cotton and His Band ( Cyril Grantham, vocalist), Nat Gonella, and Harry Roy and His R.K. Olians (with vocalists Harry Roy, Bill Currie, and Ivor Moreton).

“Let That Be a Lesson to You” (1932)

“Let That Be a Lesson to You.”  Words and music by Isham Jones (1932).  Recorded by Ray Starita and His Ambassadors with vocals by Elsie Carlisle on June 15, 1932.  Sterno 985.

Personnel: Ray Starita-cl-ts dir. Sid Buckman-Nat Gonella-t / tb / ?Chester Smith-cl-as-bar-o / Nat Star-cl-as / George Glover-cl-ts-vn / George Hurley-vn / Harry Robens-p / George Oliver-bj-g / Arthur Calkin-sb / Rudy Starita-d-vib-x

Let That Be A Lesson To You – Ray Starita and his Ambassadors (w. Elsie Carlisle)

Let That Be a Lesson to You – Ray Starita and his Ambassadors (w. Elsie Carlisle)

Video by David Weavings (YouTube)

“Let That Be a Lesson to You” has a long instrumental introduction that is mellow but catchy, and one might almost expect it to lead up to a conventional love song. The vocal refrain, however, consists of Elsie Carlisle scolding her love for being unfaithful and returning to her in disgrace. In spite of this theme, the sound of the piece somehow fits in nicely with Elsie’s other work with Ray Starita’s band in 1932, the only year of their collaboration. It is light and dreamy; one might compare its atmosphere to “Leave Me Alone With My Dreams” or “On a Dreamy Afternoon.”

In 1932 “Let That Be a Lesson to You” was recorded in America by the Isham Jones Orchestra and by the Coon-Sanders Orchestra.  In Britain, in addition to the Starita recording with Elsie Carlisle, there were versions by the Savoy Hotel Orpheans (with Chick Endor and Charlie Farrell as vocalists), by Jay Wilbur and His Band (with vocals by Tom Barratt), and by Sam Browne and Eve Becke (under the pseudonyms “Jack and Jill”).

"The Idol of the Radio." British dance band singer of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s.