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Ray Noble & His American Dance Orchestra

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Biography

Ray Noble had an odd career. Most notable as the composer of "The Very Thought of You," "I Hadn't Anyone Till You," "The Touch of Your Lips," "Goodnight Sweetheart" and "Cherokee" (as well as leader of the orchestra which backed the popular radio show of Edgar Bergen), Noble was an important bandleader in the 1930s but he never seemed to reach his potential. Classically-trained as a pianist, Noble was more interested in dance music and he won a big band arranging contest sponsored by Melody Maker in England. He became the musical director for the important HMV label (1929-34) and led a series of recordings with his New Mayfair Dance Orchestra (1930-34) which often featured the vocals of Al Bowlly. The music was dance-oriented with a slight influence of jazz. Building on his popular success, in 1935 Noble came to the United States where he led his finest orchestra during 1935-37, often playing at the Rainbow Room. His band included for a time trombonist-arranger Glenn Miller (who was very influenced by Noble's approach and arranging style, "borrowing" "Moonlight Serenade" from Noble's book), Bud Freeman, Pee Wee Erwin, Charlie Spivak, Johnny Mintz, Claude Thornhill and Will Bradley. However after the orchestra broke up in 1937, Noble became much more famous as an emcee on radio and then eventually for his depiction of a pompous and foolish Englishman in comedy bits. In addition to those roles, Noble occasionally led dance bands but by the mid-'50s he had largely retired. Few today probably realize who the Ray Noble was that composed "Cherokee!" ~ Scott Yanow

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