Ray Charles Video Museum

Mediagraphy - Discography - Trackography - Videography - Gigography - Biography - Chronology

11 April 2014

Johnny Farnham And Ray Charles At The Crown Casino (1997)

Australian pop singer John Farnham (a.k.a. 'Jack') has always had  a healthy taste for the more pompous soul classics (and for comebacks). On May 8th, 1997 he performed at the opening of the Crown Casino in Melbourne. At the same occasion the venue also dedicated a bar ('Jack's Bar') to John. I guess that Ray Charles guested on this same night.
Two songs (from a house video recording?) were submitted to YouTube, but there may be more.

Backing vocals: Lindsay Field, Joe Creighton and Lisa Edwards.


I Can't Stop Loving You (also with Kylie Minogue and Anthony Warlow):

10 April 2014

Potential youth delinquents dancing to Ray Charles' What'd I Say (1961)

Potential youth delinquents in San Francisco, dancing to What'd I Say, in Ask Me, Don't Tell Me, a 'PSA' produced for Youth For Service (1961):

02 April 2014

Ray Charles Attending A Count Basie Concert In Juan-Les-Pins (1961)

Listening to Basie,
with gf Raita Johnson.
Photo by J.-P. Leloir.
For the history of contemporary music, INA, the media archive of the public French broadcasting organization, is an unsurpassed treasure trove. A diamond in their collection is the set of Ray Charles' concerts in Antibes (Juan-les-Pins) in 1961.
These concerts are known from film footage produced and directed by Jean-Christophe Averty, broadcast by French TV in 1961 and 1962, around 2008 released on an illegal DVD, entitled Jazz à Juan, with mediocre video and sound quality, and on a more recent, legit DVD, Ray Charles Live In France 1961 (Eagle Vision DVD EREDV904) with a considerably better video quality and a much better audio which originated from recordings that were simultaneously produced for the French radio organization ORTF.
To add to the confusion, INA has recently published a generous portion of tracks (without applying any obvious selection criteria), edited from the film footage, with excellent video quality (including the original audience shots, and the orginal 'couleur local' shots) and a soundtrack with an acceptable quality from the orginal film's soundtrack.
You can enjoy the clips here (warning: slow buffering of the media streams!).

In Antibes Ray shared the bill with Count Basie and his Orchestra. From a photo series shot by Jean-Pierre Leloir I already knew that Ray attended one of Basie's concerts. Therefore I was happy to spot a (nervous-looking) Genius in the audience in yet another clip that was recently made public by Ina, with a version of Smack Dab In The Middle, performed by the Basie band, featuring Ossie Smith.

Count Basie Orchestra, ft. Ossie Smith - Smack Dab In The Middle (Ray briefly appears at 1:15):

Ray & Raita in Antibes, maybe
at the same concert.
Photo by J.-P. Leloir.
This little sequence with Ray may even have been shot during another part of the concert. (Probably unrelated, Ray himself released the song in June 1964, on the album Have A Smile With Me; ABC 495).

Ina has also published an interview (by André Francis) of Jacques Benoit Levy, the promoter of the 2nd Jazz à Juan festival, which was aired on June 1, 1961 (about 6 weeks before the event). Levy announced that Ray had just confirmed his participation in the festival, after cancelling a few assignments in the U.S. (when they started negotiating 5 months before, Ray didn't have one single gap in his booking schedule), bringing a "grand formation" with "8 [sic!] musiciens et 4 chanteuses", and confirming that Ray would sing, play piano and organ [sic!], ...and alto.

For various remaining Ina footage from the 1961 Antibes festival - with performances by the Count Basie Orchestra and Rosetta Tharpe - check this.

26 February 2014

Ray Charles In Paris (1963)

From 22 to 28 May 1963 Ray Charles was back at the Olympia Theater for a new series of concerts*. For all seven days the venue was totally sold out. "Members of the Hot Club de France distributed pink fliers at the theater hailing Mr. Charles as a true jazz artist in the tradition of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington," the New York Times' Paris correspondent reported on 24 May.

Band leader and trumpet player Wallace
Davenport, Ray Charles, and Vic Ash. 
David Fathead Newman was missing in the Orchestra's line-up. He had been arrested for drug possession a few days before by the British police. Later that week he joined the group again in Paris, but he didn't make it to the concerts because his place in the band was already taken by an English sub on tenor saxophone: Vic Ash, the first white cat ever to play in Ray's band (don't miss his autobiography, I Blew It My Way).
Phil Guilbeau, on trumpet of course, had to fill in Fathead's flute parts on Georgia On My Mind.

Some TV footage of the 1963 French tour has survived; see this.

One or more of the concerts were aired by Europe 1. One or more broadcasts were captured on tape. As it looks now, the following tunes have survived (in poor to reasonably fair quality):
  1. Flying Home (Ray Charles Orchestra)
  2. Unidentified instrumental (alto solo by Ray Charles)
  3. Let The Good Times Roll
  4. Margie
  5. You Don't Know Me
  6. Hide Nor Hair
  7. In The Evening (When The Sun Goes Down)
  8. Marie
  9. Careless Love
  10. Don't Set Me Free (ft. Margie Hendricks)
  11. My Bonnie
  12. Georgia On My Mind (Phil Guilbeau - tp)
  13. Just A Little Lovin'
  14. Unchain My Heart
  15. My Baby (I Love Her, Yes I Do) (ft. Margie Hendricks)
  16. Hit The Road Jack
  17. You Are My Sunshine
In this case the numbers, of course, do not represent any setlist order. Flying Home (#1) is the tune written by Lionel Hampton, Benny Goodman and Eddie DeLange; this is the only known live version by the Ray Charles band. Tune #2 is the same unidentified composition as known from the 1963 O Gênio concerts in São Paulo (i.e. #15 in this article).
As I write this, #7 (a splendid 9-minute long In The Evening), #10 (Don't Set Me Free), and #17 (You Are My Sunshine) are the earliest known recorded live versions of these songs.

The band in Paris, 1963.
Read this for the story behind this photo.
Musicians: Wallace Davenport (band leader), Oliver Beener, Phil Guilbeau, John Hunt - trumpets; Henderson Chambers, James Lee Harbert, Keg Johnson, Julian Priester - trombones; Hank Crawford, Buddy Pearson - alto saxophones); Vic Ash, James Clay - tenor saxophones; Leroy Cooper - baritone saxophone; Wilbert Hogan - drums; Sonny Forriest - guitar; Edgar Willis - bass. The Raelettes: Gwen Berry, Margie Hendricks, Pat Moseley Lyles, Darlene McCrea.

*Special thanks to Joël Dufour for many details in this article.

25 February 2014

Ray Charles Band Augmented By Moscow Symphony Ork (2000)

The band with a string section
at the Hollywood Bowl in '61
(from a '62 concert souvenir brochure,
 photo by Howard Morehead;
coll. T. Sunseri).
On September 10, 1961 Ray Charles played with an 'extra-augmented' orchestra (57 musicians, including strings) and The Raelettes at the Hollywood Bowl, at a special "Salute To Genius" concert.

Unfortunately, nothing of this show was recorded.

But almost 40 years later, on 30 October 2000, the Ray Charles Orchestra performed in a sold-out Moscow concert hall - together with a local symphony orchestra. The combination was  conducted by drummer Peter Turre.

An "energetic and vivacious Charles, 70, enthralled the crowd," Russian television station RTR reported.

RTR's Channel 1 aired the show. A VHS-copy of this program has survived:
  1. Intro
  2. Busted
  3. Georgia On My Mind
  4. Let's Get Away From It All
  5. If You Go Away
  6. Almost Like Being In Love Again
  7. Hey Girl
  8. Blues For Big Scotia
  9. A Song For You
  10. All I Ever Need Is You
  11. Intro Raelettes
  12. Hit The Road Jack
  13. I Can't Stop Loving You
  14. What'd I Say
  15. Outro

19 February 2014

Ray Charles Sings Ring Of Fire At Opening Of New Ole Opry (1974)

Video still.
In 1974 the Grand Ole Opry moved from the Ryman Theatre in downtown Nashville to the new Grand Ole Opry House, several miles to the east of the city.
To carry on the tradition of the Ryman, a six-foot circle of oak was cut from the center of the old theater's stage and inlaid into center stage at the new venue.
Exactly at that spot, most probably on or around opening night (March 16), but without any audience present, Ray Charles was filmed performing Ring Of Fire. He sang and played piano live, probably using a specially produced orchestra tape, enriched with some prominent slide guitar.
The clip possibly was part of the opening show, where - God forbid, as this source stated it - also "sitting U.S. President Richard Nixon [...] played a few songs on the piano".

31 January 2014

Ray Charles Live In Maribor (1996)

In July 1996 the Ray Charles band played at the Lent Festival in Maribor, Slovenia. (Barbara Morrison opened the show with the Orchestra).
The concert was recorded for SLO1, the first net of Radiotelevizija Slovenija (presented by Eva Stavbar, directed by Petar Radović). I've seen a reasonably good video copy with the following selection:
  1. Intro Ray Charles
  2. Busted
  3. Georgia On My Mind
  4. Oh, What A Beautiful Morning
  5. Just For A Thrill
  6. Angelina
  7. Blues For Big Scotia
  8. A Song For You
  9. Intro Raelettes (by RC)
  10. Knock On Wood
  11. I Can't Stop Loving You
  12. What'd I Say (with intro: I'm Gonna Keep Singin')
  13. Outro
Ted Murdock, Chuck Parrish, John Bailey, Kenny Scharf - trumpets; Steve Sigmund, Mike Guerrier, Sarah Morrow, Jason Jackson - trombones; Steve Elliott, Al Jackson (bandleader), Al Waters, Rudy Johnson, and Jim Farnsworth - saxophones; Kenny Carr - guitar; Curtis Ohlson - bass; Ernest Vantrease - Hammond organ; Peter Turre - drums. The Raelettes: Estella Yarbrough, Karen Evans, Cathy Mackey, Katrina Harper-Cooke (?), Tonette McKinney.

13 January 2014

Ray Charles Performing A Song For You And Route 66 In The Arsenio Hall Show (1993)

On 4 May or August 23, 1993* Ray Charles performed A Song For You and Route 66 with Arsenio's - excellent - "Posse".

* Also read this.

24 December 2013

A Second Version Of Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town

Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town was part of Ray Charles' The Spirit Of Christmas album, recorded in the Fall of 1984, and officially released in early 1986.

Today, hearing this - radically different - version came as a big surprise:

Who knows more?

This is the original album version:

For other Genius Christmas records and shows read this earlier post.

25 November 2013

Ray Charles & His Orchestra Live In Zurich (1961)

(recto) of the tapes.
The Ray Charles Big Band's First Concert In Europe (1961) has indeed been recorded: by Radio Basel (now part of Radio SRF 2 Kultur). My inquiries at their archives have resulted in the discovery of a set of 2 edited tapes with parts of this  "Jazzkonzert" by the "Ray Charles Big Band" at the "Kongresshaus Zürich" on "Mittwoch [Wednesday] 18. Oktober 1961" at 8.30 p.m. The tapes entail 22 tracks with 18* of the tunes that were performed that day:
  1. Happy Faces / Sonny Stitt (Ray Charles Orchestra) - solo DN - ts (3'00")
  2. Along Came Betty / Benny Golson (Ray Charles Orchestra) - solo MB - tp (3'19")
  3. My Baby (I Love Her, Yes I Do) / Ray Charles (with The Raelettes) - ft. MH (4'26")
  4. Sticks And Stones / Titus Turner (with The Raelettes) (3'33")
  5. Georgia On My Mind / Hoagy Carmichael, Stuart Gorrell - solo DN - fl (6'20")
  6. Blue Stone / Hank Crawford (Ray Charles Orchestra) - solos HC - as; PG - tp; DW - ts; RC? - as (7'06")
  7. Margie / Benny Davis, Con Conrad, J. Russell Robinson (2'51")
  8. Hit The Road Jack / Percy Mayfield (with The Raelettes) (2'32")
  9. Birth Of A Band / Quincy Jones (Ray Charles Orchestra) - solos DN, DW - ts (chase); BC - d (3'54")
  10. I Remember Clifford / Benny Golson (Ray Charles Orchestra) - solo JH - fh (5'26")
  11. Come Rain Or Come Shine / Johnny Mercer, Harold Arlen - solo DW - ts (7'06")
  12. Ghana / Ernie Wilkins (Ray Charles Orchestra) - solos DN - fl; LC - bs; SF - g (4'15")
  13. I Believe To My Soul / Ray Charles (with The Raelettes) (4'04")
  14. I've Got News For You / Roy Alfred (4'30")
  15. Misty / Erroll Garner (Ray Charles Orchestra) - solo HC - as (7'54")
  16. My Bonnie / Standard; arr. Ray Charles (with The Raelettes) - solo DN - ts (3'45")
  17. I Wonder / Cecil Gant, Raymond Leveen (with The Raelettes) (3'44")
  18. Ray Minor Ray / Benny Golson (Ray Charles Orchestra) - solos DW, DN - ts; EW - b (4'02")
The archived tapes probably do not represent the order of the original setlist. The band-only instrumentals (#01, 02, 06, 09, 12, 15, 18) were almost always played before the intermission. At the end of #6 (Blue Stone), though, you can clearly hear Ray Charles say "All right!", which makes it probable that for this song The Genius played one or more of the solo parts on alto (just as he did in 1962, in Paris).
After #8 one can hear Ray call for "I Got News", and after #11 for "Hallelujah I Love Her So". From a contemporary review in Le Matin - Tribune de Lausanne, and from handwritten notes in the souvenir brochure of Hans Philippi, one could conclude that Alexander's Ragtime Band, Let The Good Times Roll, Moanin', and What'd I Say (and possibly Whisper Not) were also on the Zürich setlist...
The quality of the (mono) recording is excellent (though, a bit unfortunately, the 'audience noise' was suppressed almost completely).
Assuming that Radio Basel at the time has broadcast the tunes in the order of the tapes, it's impossible to conceive what kind of storyline the program maker was following.

Musicians: Ray Charles - piano, vocals; Marcus Belgrave, Wallace Davenport, Phil Guilbeau, John Hunt (flugelhorn) - trumpets; Henderson Chambers, Leon Comegys, James Lee Harbert, Keg Johnson - trombones; Hank Crawford (alto saxophone, band leader), Rudy Powell - alto saxophone; David Newman - tenor saxophone, flute; Don Wilkerson - tenor saxophone; Leroy Cooper - baritone saxophone; Bruno Carr - drums; Sonny Forriest - guitar; Edgar Willis - bass. Announcer: prob. Hank Crawford. The Raelettes:  Priscilla “Pat” Moseley Lyles, Margie Hendricks, Gwen Berry, Darlene McCrea - vocals.

Historical importance
This, so far, is the first-ever recording of the Ray Charles big band. The troupe appeared in its second known line-up, but sounded very well rehearsed (Ray's old small big band still formed the nucleus of the group)**. The ensemble play was very tight. Since Ray Charles only played piano, not Hammond, at this gig, the sound of the band as a whole is radically different from the concerts that were staged 2 days later, in Paris.
Misty (#15) is the only known live recording of this song by the Ray Charles Orchestra. Crawford's original studio version is known from his 1961 album More Soul (Atlantic SD 1356; the tune was also released as a single on Atlantic 45-5013), but this wonderful rendition is even more soulful. The tune's occurrence on the setlist is unexpected (it was e.g. never mentioned in any contemporary souvenir brochure's repertoire list).***
The extended outro of #4 (Sticks And Stones) sounds a lot like some early live versions of I've Got A Woman. As to be expected, #11 (Come Rain Or Come Shine) got yet another bone chilling rendition with Don Wilkerson on tenor. #10 and #14 are very early live recordings of I Remember Clifford, with an excellent solo on flugelhorn by John Hunt, and I've Got News For You.

Special thanks
To Mario Schneeberger, who put me on the right trail, and to Peter Bürli, Redaktionsleiter Jazz at SRF 2 Kultur, who kindly allowed me to listen to the Radio Basel tapings.

* Announcements to some of the tunes were edited on 4 separate, numbered tracks (left out from the list above). The two tapes (with resp. #10-18 on tape "1" and #01 - 09 on tape "2A"), are archived by SFR under ID number BS_MG_FLU_6554_K01. ** Actually, with the exception of the July concerts in Antibes, Ray played that year with an "augmented" orchestra [i.e. big band] from April to December. *** Brother Ray recorded Misty much later, playing piano, with Steve Turre (album: In The Spur Of The Moment (Telarc B00004TUOZ, 1999).