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14 February 2010

Renaissance (1975)

  1. Living For The City
  2. Then We'll Be Home (aka Then I'll Be Home and Sadies Tune)
  3. My God And I
  4. We're Gonna Make It
  5. For Mamma
  6. Sunshine
  7. It Ain't Easy Being Green
  8. Sail Away 
Probably Ray's best album from the 1970s. Sadies Tune became a standard in his live concerts (and so did For Mamma in his French live performances). It Ain't Easy Being Green and Sail Away were unsurpassed interpretation exercises. Living For The City was the first song written by Stevie Wonder that Ray recorded. "I do it a lot differently than Stevie; I cut out a lot of the musical flourishes and I put that long rap in the middle, talkin' ‘bout the rats and roaches." The song earned Ray a Grammy Award in 1975 for Best Rhythm & Blues Vocal Performance, Male.

Recorded with The Ray Charles Orchestra (on a few tracks, also with some alumni of the band and other session musicians) and The Raelettes. #2 was arranged by Roger Neumann.

Drummer John Bryant informed me that the album was recorded "in late '74 and early '75 at RPM" and that "James Gadson did play on most of Renaissance, including the Grammy winning Living For The City, although I was erroneously given the credit on the otherwise excellent Rhino 1997 5-CD compilation [Genius & Soul, the 50th Anniversary Edition]. I played on We'll Be Home (Sadies Tune) and We're Gonna Make It. The personnel was pretty close to the Madrid line-up [...]."
That line-up of the Orchestra at the 1975 concert in Madrid was: Jeff Conrad, Bob Coassin, Phil Guilbeau, Jack Evans - trumpets; Wally Huff, Ken Tussing, Glen Childress, Steve Davis - trombones; Andy Ennis, Clifford Solomon, Ed Pratt, James Clay - saxophones; Leroy Cooper - baritone saxophone, band leader; John Bryant - drums; Joe Harris - bass; Tony Matthews - guitar; Ernest Vantrease - keyboards.
This exact line-up (except for the bass position) was confirmed by Jeff Conrad in a comment on a soundclip of Then We'll Be Home on YouTube.
Bryant: "Ray set up the mikes, engineered and mixed this record with assistance from Bob Gratts."

The complete album:

Crossover 9005, 1975-06.

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