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28 February 2010

Ray Charles À Paris - Les Concerts À La Salle Pleyel 1968 Et 1969

DVD bootleg, cover art.
Through the years Ray Charles frequently performed in Paris. From the mid  '60s to the mid '70s La Salle Pleyel was the favorite concert venue. On 8 & 9  October 1968 and in early October 1969 (for a full week) he gave his concerts at La Salle Pleyel.

Ina has databased several ORTF programs related to the 1968 and 1969 concerts:
  • On 11 October 1968 TF 1 aired Midi Magazine, with a Ray Charles item (Ina ID CAF97520253).
  • On 12 October 1968 TF 1 broadcast  Samedi Et Compagnie, where Ray Charles was "present" and was probably interviewed (Ina ID CPF86637153).
  • Also on 12 October they aired a 40 minute concert, Ray Charles, His Orchestra And The Raelettes (Ina ID CPF86650520; parts of this program were also databased under the ID numbers I00005148, I00005151, I00005153, I00005154, I00005155, I05271421, I05271422).
  • It looks as if this same show was broadcast again by TF 1 on 26 October 1968 (Ina ID CPF86644394).
  • On 7 October 1969 TF 1 again made Ray Charles subject of an item in Midi Magazine (Ina ID CAF90011598). On the same day they broadcast an interview recorded in Salon de Provence. They also showed a performance, filmed somewhere in France, of Hit The Road Jack (also see the bonus track coming with the video of the 1969 concert, below). Also read this.
  • A 40 minute recording of the concert was aired by TF 1 on 1 November 1969 (Ina ID CPF86644399; rushes and backstage materials are filed in Ina under the numbers I00005219, I00005220, I00005222, I00005223, I00005224, I00005225).
  • TF 1 aired a 39 minute selection of the 1969 concert on 19 September 1970, entitled Ray Charles. Source: Ina, ID CPF86644396. Ina also stored a series of rushes and rest materials, with the following IDs: I00005198, I00005199, I00005200, I00005201, I00005202, I00005203, I00005206, I05050516.
A double DVD bootleg of the 1968 concert recording and one of the 1969 performances was sold via Ebay a while ago. Currently the files are circulating as torrents. Many of the tunes frequently appear on YouTube, but this is diligently policed (explaining any missing or defunct clips below).
Except for the shared location, the similar provenance, and the combined distribution of the bootlegged footage, there's no objective reason to review them together. The sets were quite different, and between the concerts there were also many changes in the orchestra's personnel and the Raelettes' line-ups.

Personnel 1968:*
Musicians: Wallace Davenport (bandleader), Phil Guilbeau, Virgil Jones, David Philips - trumpet; Fred Johnson, Jay Clyde Miller - alto saxophone; Nathan Davis, Daniel Jackson - tenor saxophone; Leroy Cooper - bariton saxophone; Henry Coker, Glenn Childress (and Fred Murrell?)** - trombone; Billy Preston - organ, Fred Robinson - guitar, Edgar Willis - bass, Roger Humphries - drums. The Raelettes: Verlyn Flenaugh, Susaye Greene, Barbara Ann Lesure, Barbara Nell Terrault.

Personnel 1969:*
Johnny Coles, Bill King, Marshall Hunt, Blue Mitchell - trumpet; Edward Lee Comegys, Henry Coker, Glenn Childress, Joe Randazzo - trombone; Curtis Peagler - alto saxophone, Jay Cloyd Miller - alto saxophone; Andy Ennis, Albert McQueen - tenor saxophone, Leroy Cooper - bariton saxophone; Ben Martin - guitar, Edgar Willis - bass, Ernest Elly - drums. The Raelettes: Mable John, Susaye Greene, Vernita Moss, Estella Yarbrough.
*Kindly provided by J.P. Vergier - see comments; (more) corrections welcome! **Bones: conjecture by Ken Tussing.

8 October 1968:
The set list of this televised concert was quite unusual - with a series of tunes that Ray rarely (or not) played live elsewhere, an instrumental 'ín the middle' of the concert (#8), and Susaye's operette-like solo on My Funny Valentine. For My Soul (track #6) read this.
  1. Intro
  2. Swing A Little Taste (with Ray Charles Orchestra) 
  3. The Bright Lights And You Girl (with aborted sax solo)
  4. Georgia On My Mind
  5. The Sun Died
  6. My Soul
  7. Yesterday
  8. Soft Winds (with Ray Charles Orchestra; solo Virgil Jones) 
  9. Going Down Slow (with Billy Preston) 
  10. Sweet Young Thing Like You (with The Raelettes)
  11. My Funny Valentine (ft. Susaye Greene) 
  12. Tell All The World About You 
  13. A Tear Fell (with Billy Preston)
  14. Eleanor Rigby
  15. (Baby Please Don't Go intro +) What'd I Say
  16. Outro + extensive good bye in French*
* Ray's closing statement: "Bonne nuit - oh LORD!"

9 October 1968
The (or a?) concert on this day was broadcast by radio station Europe-1. From their vaults comes a partial selection with the following tunes:
  1. Swing A Little Taste
  2. The Bright Lights And You Girl 
  3. Georgia On My Mind 
  4. Margie
  5. The Sun Died
  6. My Soul
  7. I Don't Need No Doctor
  8. My Funny Valentine
  9. Eleanor Rigby
  10. What'd I Say
  11. Outro
What's listed here as What'd I Say (#10) was in fact an extremely cool and funny, highly improvised extravaganza, evolving as an 8-minute battle between Ray and the orchestra, full of wild style quotes, only eventually culminating in an inspired but regular version of What'd I Say.

One more tune from 1968
One more tune, probably from one of the La Pleyel concerts in '68, has survived from the Europe-1 vaults: an attractive up tempo version of You Are My Sunshine. Here you can listen to it.

Photos dated October 10: Gamma/Getty.
Early October 1969:
On Monday 6 October, Tuesday 7, Friday 10 and Saturday 11 October 1969 Ray Charles gave 4 double concerts* at La Salle Pleyel. The TV taping by ORTF had two superimposed titles: Ray Charles Show, and Ray Charles À Paris. The concert is cross-cut with some nice documentary footage: Ray stepping into a car, and Ray backstage, nervously smoking his usual last pre-concert cigarette, just before he joins in on stage with Doot Doot Dow. Production credits: Frank Ténot, Daniel Filipacchi and Jean J. Celerier; directed by Guido Frasca. Additionally, Frank Ténot interviewed Ray before the concert, in his hotel room.
In an announcement in Jazz Hot magazine from October 1969 (#171) Norman Granz was credited with a production role as well (as the tour impresario). Europe 1 was credited with "le patronage" (to be translated as "auspicies") of the concerts - which may mean that one or more parts of the concert series were also aired on radio.*
The structure and contents of the concert are a-typical, with lots of room for instrumentals where you normally wouldn't expect them (#4, #12), and with plenty exposure for reed and brass soloists.
Ray finished with some falsetto scatting in the outro - I've rarely heard him doing that before. The 'bonus track' mentioned below (#17 on the track list of the DVD bootleg) comes from a broadcast on 7 October 1969 by TF 1 (Midi Magazine, INA ID CAF90011598, also mentioned above).
*Information kindly provided by J.P. Verger.
  1. I Remember Clifford (Ray Charles Orchestra, solo Johnny Coles on trumpet)
  2. La Bruja Negra (Ray Charles Orchestra, solo Andy Ennis on tenor sax and Blue Mitchell on trumpet)
  3. The Shadow Of Your Smile (Ray Charles Orchestra, solo Curtis Peagler on alto saxophone) 
  4. Doot Doot Dow (with Ray Charles Orchestra, Ray Charles solo on alto saxophone)
  5. The Bright Lights And You Girl 
  6. I Didn´t Know What Time It Was (solo Blue Mitchell on trumpet)
  7. Georgia On My Mind 
  8. Hallelujah I Love Her So
  9. Am I Blue (solo Johnny Coles on trumpet)
  10. I´ve Got A Woman 
  11. Yesterday
  12. This Here (with Ray Charles Orchestra, solo Andy Ennis on tenor saxophone and Leroy Cooper on baritone saxophone)
  13. Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers (with The Raelettes) 
  14. Baby Please (with The Raelettes)
  15. What'd I Say
  16. Outro
  17. Straight No Chaser (The Ray Charles Orchestra) 
  • Hit The Road Jack [Bonus track]
The first clip below is an interview from November 1969, before one of Ray's concerts at the Pleyel Room, probably in his hotel room. The interviewer is Frank Ténot, the voice over translation is done by Jacques Hess. (The footage is also on the bootleg DVD).

1968 [not 1969!!!] - edit in 6 parts (the 5th part with tunes #12 - 14 is missing):

1968 - The Sun Died:

1968 - Yesterday:
Watch here.
1968 - Going Down Slow:

1968 - Tell All The World About You, A Tear Fell:

1968 - What'd I Say:

1969 - edit with I Remember Clifford, La Bruja Negra, Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers, Baby Please, I´ve Got A Woman, Yesterday, This Here, What'd I Say:

1969 - Georgia On My Mind:


  1. Bonjour L'orchestre de Ray Charles les 8 et 9 octobre 1968 etait conduit par Wallace Davenport(tp);les musiciens etaient :
    tp :Phil Guilbeau (soliste sur The sun die)
    Virgil Jones (soliste sur Soft wind)
    David Philips
    bs :Leroy Cooper
    as :Fred Jonhson
    Jay Clyde Miller
    ts :Nathan Davis
    Daniel Jackson
    g :Fred Robinson
    org:Billy Preston
    b :edgar Willis
    d :Roger Hemphries
    J'ai oublie les noms des trombonistes.
    Les Raelettes etaient :
    Verlyne Flenaigh
    Susaye Greene (sol sur My funny Valentine)
    Berry Ann Lesure
    Barbara Nell Terrault.
    Bien cordialement.jpVerger

  2. Hello L'orchestre de RC a Pleyel en 1969 etait compose de :
    tp :Johny Coles
    Bill King
    Marshall Hunt
    Blue Mitchell
    tb :Leon Comegys
    Henry Coker
    Glenn Children
    Joe Randazzo
    as :Curtis Peagler
    Jay Cloyd Miller
    ts :Andrew Denis
    Andrew Mc Queen
    bs :Leroy Cooper
    g :Den Martin
    b :Edgar Willis
    d :Ernest Elly
    Les Raelettes etaient :
    Mable Jones
    Susann Greene
    Vernitta Moss
    Estella Yarborough
    Bien cordialement. jpVerger