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

29 December 2011

Keeping Time

Ray Charles' timing was legendary. According to this research, it even reached "the limits of human time perception and physical action".

Soundclip of Fever, with Nathalie Cole:

(I don't want to ruin a good story, but did any of the researchers make sure that it was actually Ray himself doing the snapping, and, if so, that it was a one-take recording?).

27 December 2011

Ray Charles Live In Antibes (1992)

Spread from the 1992 European Tour
itinerary from promoter DIBA
(collection Steve Sigmund).
Things always changed after the
printing was done; therefore the data
on the personnel
were never entirely correct.
Ray Charles connoisseur J.P. Verger was so kind to let me listen in to a rare private recording of a live France-Inter radio program from July 20, 1992. It contains a large part of the concert performed by the Ray Charles troupe at the 32nd edition of Jazz à Antibes. The tape misses the three to five tunes where The Raelettes contributed to the show (Chain Of Fools, I Can't Stop Loving You and What'd I Say, and maybe a few more songs), but the good news is that it entails a set of four rare instrumentals*.
The radio program was presented by Julien Delifiori and another gentleman, who - regretfully - felt obliged to enhance the "live" character by frequently talking through the music. But they couldn't conceal that the band was in a very good mood that night.

Update 21 May 2017:
INA (ID: PHY14002116) also recorded the radio broadcast of the concert, adding #1, a complete version of #12 and #13 to #17.

1. Viewpoint (The Ray Charles Orchestra) (solos: SE, MG, KC, DH)
2. Beatrice (The Ray Charles Orchestra) (solos: WC, JK)
3. Easy Living (The Ray Charles Orchestra) (solos: JK, JF, DH, JK)
4. Brazilian Skies (The Ray Charles Orchestra) (solos: JK, RJ)
5. Our Suite (The Ray Charles Orchestra) (solos: RJ, DH, JF, AW, JK, PT, CP-or-TM)
Intro RC
6. Then We'll Be Home (Sadies Tune)
7. Busted
8. Georgia On My Mind
9. Mississippi Mud
10. How Long Has This Been Going On
11. Teardrops From My Eyes
12. Ellie, My Love
Intro Raeletts (by RC)
13. Chain Of Fools
14. Giving Up (Trudy Cohran)
15. Smack Dab In The Middle
16. I Can't Stop Loving You
17. Lay Around And Love On You (All I Wanna Do Is ---) (solo: Kenny Carr - g)
18. What'd I Say

#1, Viewpoint: composed by Steve Turre.
#2, Beatrice: arranged by Wayne Coniglio.
#3, Easy Living, arranged by James Polk, is the first known recording by the Ray Charles Orchestra.
#4, Brazilian Skies (arranged by Teddy Edwards), and #5, Our Suite (arranged by Roger Neumann), were first taped for the album Jazz Number II (1973).

On July 21 the France 2 News had a 2m30s item on Jazz à Juan, covering the concert, and an interview with Ray, stating that "the money does not interest me, I don't care" (INA archive, ID CAB92042095):

Musicians: Ted Murdock, Jeff Kaye, David Hoffman, Chuck Parrish - trumpets; Wayne Coniglio, Marc Fields, Mike Guerrier, Steve Sigmund - trombones; Steve Elliott, Al Jackson (band leader), Al Waters, Rudy Johnson, Jim Farnsworth - saxophones; Peter Turre - drums; Kenny Carr - guitar; Benoît Grey - bass; Ernest Vantrease - keyboards. The Raelettes: Trudy Cohran, Pamela Diggs, Paula Moye, Angie Workman, Estella Yarbrough.
*  Steve Sigmund helped to name the tunes.
** Soloists identified by Dave Hoffman, other corrections and additions as compared to the tour itinerary brochure by Orchestra alumni under direction of Steve Sigmund.

21 December 2011

Christmas With Ray Charles (5x*)

Businesswise, after scoring hit records, the best thing a musician can do to increase the value of his (back) catalog, is to tape Christmas songs. Ray Charles did so on five occasions - sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes odd, sometimes brilliant - and always soulful.

In 1976 (or 1979?) he celebrated Christmas In Ettal, with Sarah Jordan Powell. Watch clips here.
In 1985 the brilliant album The Spirit Of Christmas came out. You can listen to a few 'sound clips' on Youtube, but jukebox services like Spotify, LastFM and Pandora let you listen to the whole album.
In or around 1988 Ray featured in a few promotional clips, on TBN. You can watch one of the surviving clips here.
In 1994 Brother Ray contributed to the soundtrack of the film Love Affair, with a new version of The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire). I'm afraid that there's currently no online resource where you can listen to it.
In 2002 Ray Charles, Jr. produced the concert DVD Ray Charles Celebrates A Gospel Christmas. You can watch the majority of the songs here, but I guess that the remainder of the footage will pop up again on Youtube during the coming weeks.

Merry Christmas!
* Joël Dufour reminded me that there was actually a sixth Xmas-related occasion: a Christmas DJ-only promotion single from 1978.

There's A Ray Charles Riot Going On (1960)

Documentary footage about the on-tour adventures of the Ray Charles troupe is extremely rare. This makes a news clip from 1960 even more special.
In a comment to this article, a reader has convincingly established that the footage of this clip was shot in Portland, at and around the local Palais Royale Ballroom. These riots happened on September 4, 1960.
A newspaper article (right), from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette of September 5, reported in more detail about the events.

The 51-second B/W news flash is archived by Global Image Works, who erroneously attribute the event to the Palais Royale Ballroom audience riots that took place "[...] in Bakersfield in January 1961, when a show didn't go on [...]. Police are called to break up crowd. Shots of police dragging away people to squad cars, broken windshields, poster announcing Ray Charles show, forcible arrests, spraying crowd with fire hose. No shots inside auditorium."

In these years Ray had somewhat of a reputation for turning up late, allegedly due to his drugs habit - sometimes leading to riotous behavior of the crowds.

This video is only visible for readers of this documentary blog. Please don't share the Youtube link outside this context.

Clippings of other riots:

Ray Charles Makes 3 Bucks In The Scene (1971?)

Still from watermarked archive clip.
The Scene was a dance show that ran on WKY-TV (now KFOR) in Oklahoma from 1966 to 1974. The program was hosted by DJ Ronnie Kaye. The Dr. Pepper sponsored format ran for 8 years, and was syndicated in 10 markets in the southwestern United States including California and Texas.
In a Love Special from 1971 (?)*, Ray Charles performed I Can't Stop Loving You.

Historic Films was somehow able to license the performance (ID # TS-13); it can be watched in low res (and watermarked) here. Their database says Ray lip-sync'ed, but I think he simply sang and played piano live over an orchestra tape.

In the documentary Television Pioneers Kaye stated:
So if a Ray Charles would come to town or a Tina Turner would come to town I'd head to the Civic Center and say, "Mr. Charles I'll pick you up in the morning at nine o'clock, would you come out to the station?" And Ray said, "You know I think I will." Here I am with a genius of the business and I'm riding in the front seat with him coming out to Channel 4 and his manager leans over from the back seat and says, "How much are we getting paid for this?" and I said, "Oh my gosh we don't have a budget you know people just appear for the promotional value." He said, "Well we just turned down five thousand dollars to appear on the Ed Sullivan show." And my heart sank and I said, "Sir I'll have to turn you around and take you back to the hotel." He said, "I'll tell you what, just because we are members of the union if you will give us three dollars we will do it." I said, "Ok!" I gave him three bucks and we did the show."
In 2009 The Scene was on display and the subject of an event at the Oklahoma History Center (shaky clip):

* In the clip Ray actually looks 2 or 3 years younger to me...

13 December 2011

Ray Charles & Lucio Dalla In Two Duets At The Teatro Greco In Taormina (2000)

Lucio Dalla is an Italian singer-songwriter and musician. On 20 August 2000 he performed  "the most exciting duets" of his career during a Ray Charles concert with a symphony orchestra at the Teatro Greco in Taormina. The two gentlemen sang O Sole Mio and Yesterday.

In the video below Dalla reflects on this event. The Rai Uno program Taratata (presented by Vincenzo Mollica and Natasha Stefanenko , and directed by Cesare Pierleoni) covered the duets, and interviewed Ray. Wait for it.

For a contemporary newspaper review of the event, read this. 

11 December 2011

One More Superband Concert In Italy (With B.B. King) (1990)

The program's logo (still).
I thought I had covered all there is to know about Ray Charles' and B.B. King's 1990 Philip Morris Superband tour in this article*.

But today yet another TV taping of yet another one of their concerts popped up in my inbox.

This show was broadcast by the Monagasque TV station TMC (Téle Monte Carlo). The venue was somewhere in Italy (both Ray and B.B. throw a few grazie's and grazie mille's into the audience). It may have been a second concert at  Palatrussardi in Milan on November 8 (most probable; also see comment to this article, below), or a second concert at Teatro Olimpico in Rome shortly before that date, or a concert before that same date at a third location.

The TV program entailed the following tunes (not necessarily representing the original set order, and not necessarily giving the complete concert):
  1. Love Comes To Town (B.B. King)
  2. Night Life (B.B. King)
  3. Since I Met You Baby (B.B. King)
  4. Paying The Cost To Be The Boss (B.B. King)
  5. B.B. presents the band
  6. 'Taint Nobody's Bizness If I Do (B.B. King)
  7. Sweet Sixteen (B.B. King)
  8. Intro RC
  9. Let The Good Times Roll
  10. Mississippi Mud
  11. Just For A Thrill
  12. What'd I Say
  13. Ray re-introduces B.B. King back on stage
  14. [Blues Jam] (with B.B. King)
  15. Bye Bye (with B.B. King)
Who knows precisely when and where the concert took place, and when it was broadcast for the first time?

* In the light of what I wrote about the rehearsal sessions, it's remarkable that in this concert's line-up it's not Harold Jones who took the drummer's chair. Did he resign or did he get fired?

Ray Charles In Symphony Concert In Bourges (1987)

Still from video copy.
Ray Charles' symphony concert at the 11th Bourges festival in April 1987 is best known from the excellent documentary Printemps De Bourges by Serge Ginsbourg. I was also aware of some more reels with footage of the festival, mainly with contemporary news items, that are kept by the INA archive (cf. this post for all).
Today a good friend enabled me to confirm that a TV program mentioned in Jazz On The Screen (a database compiled by David Seeker, now in the Library of Congress), titled Symphonie Ray Charles, directed by Jean-Paul Jaud, "with a symphony orchestra", has survived in a 30-minute version, and indeed can be identified with a (partial) TV taping of Ray's Bourges concert with the National Orchestra d'Ile de France, conducted by Jacques Mercier. The taping appears to be assigned by the festival organization; the credits of the video that I saw mention "Printemps Images" as the production company.
As usual, Ray brought his own rhythm section: Paul Kreibich (drums), Kenny Carr (guitar), and Roger Hines (bass). The four of them performed a red hot version of Lay Around.
The program shows:
  • All I Ever Need Is You
  • If You Go Away
  • (All I Wanna Do Is) Lay Around And Love On You (guitar solo by Kenny Carr)
  • Georgia On My Mind
  • Yesterday
  • Outro
The setlist at the concert was probably longer. From Ginsbourg's film and this news item we know that Ray also performed They Can't Take That Away From Me during the concert.

10 December 2011

Ray Charles Live In A Symphony Concert At The Warsaw Jamboree (1996)

Still from video copy.
After his marvelous concerts with his own band at the Jazz Jamboree in 1984, Ray Charles returned to Warsaw twice - in 1996 and 2000, both times for symphony gigs. From two video clips that already have been circulating for a while on the web (with songs #1 and #4), I already knew that the 1996 concert was televized.
Today's good news* is that the footage of the whole concert has survived - and that it was one of Ray's best symphony concerts ever recorded. The TV program, aired by TVP 2, was directed by Dariusz Goczal. Victor Vanacore conducted the Orkiestra Symfoniczna Filharmonii Łódzkiej. Ray, as usual, brought his own rhythm section, with Kenny Carr (g), Curtis Ohlsson (b), and Peter Turre (d).

Tune #3 was never recorded in a studio; up till now it was only known from the setlist of the Charlotte Pops concert in 1998. Ray's leg work was captured from a full frontal angle by the Polish cameras when he played Big Scotia (#8). The 'Euro ballads' (#5 and 7), and A Song For You (#9) got very inspired renditions. And Ray performed Yesterday (#11) after a delicious Träumerei intro - a bit jazzier than in the 1988 concert at the Leeuwin Winery.
  1. It Hurts To Be In Love
  2. If I Could
  3. Let's Get Away From It All
  4. Georgia On My Mind
  5. For Mamma
  6. I've Got A Woman
  7. If You Go Away
  8. Blues For Big Scotia
  9. A Song For You
  10. All I Ever Need Is You
  11. Yesterday
Who knows on exactly what date and at which venue the concert took place, and when it was first broadcast?

It Hurts To Be In Love:

If I Could (soundclip):

Georgia On My Mind:
   [Clip removed from YouTube]

* Special thanks to Hector Tarin Nieto for scouting and sharing a private copy of the concert's footage.

07 December 2011

Ray Charles At The Showboat On Voice Of America (1958)

The Showboat was a famous "musical bar" or jazz club in the basement of the Douglas Hotel in Philadelphia. Jazz fans and jazz musicians hung at The Showboat nightly. Ray had a gig there as early as 1951, but possibly performed or hang out there more often during the 1950s and early 1960s. Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, or John Coltrane - they all performed on the small stage.
Sheldon Harris, in Blues Who’s Who made a note on hearing Ray playing at The Showboat in 1958, when he was listening to Willis Connover's Voice of America radio show Music USA.
If any tape of the radio program has survived, it'd be in the VoA collection at the Library of Congress (The LoC online catalog doesn't have an entry on it, but I'm not certain if the VoA collection is fully cataloged by now).

Ray Charles In Music Hall America (1976)

Mike Douglad and Ray Charles, possibly from this show.
Music Hall America was a syndicated 1-hour country music variety TV show,  that ran from 1976 to 1977. It was taped at Opryland in Nashville, produced by Viacom and directed by Lee Bernhardi.
In 1976 the series ran for 26 episodes, each with a different host, a.o. the Statler Brothers, Burl Ives, Mike Douglas, Jim Nabors, Kenny Rogers, Merle Haggard, Pat Boone, Ray Charles, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.  
The happy tagline was: Come along and join the fun, come one, come all, come everyone! Come to the Music Hall America! 
Ray Charles was headlined in a program with Tom T. Hall, Ronnie Prophet, Charlie McCoy, comedian Rip Taylor and Sandi Burnett. He performed America The Beautiful.
It's unclear if the footage has survived (but Archival Television Audio Inc. may have a copy - cf. this).

05 December 2011

Ray Charles Recorded Twice At Newport Jazz Festival In 1972

As a part of their Voice of America collection, the Library of Congress has cataloged three "digital sound cassette[s], mono, digital (polyester)" with the Newport Jazz Festival program that was presented on 7 July 1972 at the Yankee Stadium in New York.
Sheldon Harris listened to (parts of?) the (or a?) show through Willis Conover's Music USA program.

One tape (LoC catalog number RGA 0442; RWD 8791) only has a Ray Charles concert. The other tapes (LoC catalog number RGA 0157-0158; RWD 6304-6305 B1) contain another concert of Ray's troupe, and the performances of an All-Star Band, the Dave Brubeck Trio, and B.B. King.

Concert A (RWD 8791)
According to the description of the first tape Ray, his orchestra and The Raelettes performed:
  1. Unidentified Blues
  2. Feel So Bad
  3. Georgia On My Mind
  4. Feelin'
  5. Look What They've Done To My Song, Ma
  6. Eleanor Rigby
  7. Indian Love Call
  8. Shake
  9. What'd I Say
Between tracks #7 and #8 a "Sound problem" occurred.

Concert B (RWD 6304-6305)
The contents of the other tape were described as:
  1. Unidentified instrumental
  2. Feel So Bad
  3. I Feel It
  4. Look What They've Done To My Song, Ma
  5. I Can't Stop Loving You
  6. Eleanor Rigby
  7. When I'm Calling You
  8. What'd I say
With a "Buzz in the lines" between tracks #3 and #4, probably ruining the taping of Georgia.

Ad from New York Amsterdam News, Jun. 17, 1972.
It's not clear to which tunes the titles Feelin' and I Feel It refer; it may have been the usual adlib ditties to introduce The Raelettes. When I'm Calling You (#7) of the B-concert is a little enigma. I tend to identify it with Indian Love Call (as I also did when I described the 1972 Copenhagen concert), but of course it could be another, yet to be identified, song.

From a contemporary newspaper review I learned that Ray also sang Take Me Out To The Ballgame that day (source here). Photos: here and there.

According to the ad reproduced here, Charles, Brubeck and King shared the bill with "guests" Gerry Mulligan, Paul Desmond, and Jimmy Smith (maybe these stars only played with the Brubeck trio?). To top it off, George Wein programmed a jam session with Kenny Burrell, Roy Haynes, Illinois Jacquet, Joe Newman, Zoot Sims and Clark Terry (i.e. probably the "all stars" in the description of the second tape set).
For a 5-LP/3-CD album set with many performances from the 1972 Newport Jazz Festival (but without Brother Ray), see this.

03 December 2011

Let The Sun Shine In (With The National Urban Coalition, 1970)

I totally missed that this clip has been on Youtube for more than a year now: a 1-minute version of the PSA Aquarius/Let The Sun Shine In, with a National Urban Coalition of 99 other artists and celebrities. There were also 30-second ("Let the Sun Shine In" sung twice) and 2-minute versions (sung 10 times). It looks and sounds awful, but here it is:

Filmed in color in New York on a day in December 1969, first aired during The Ed Sullivan Show of 9 March 1970.
The group included a.o. Ralph Bunche, Henry Fonda, Merv Griffin, Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme, Ali MacGraw, Leonard Nimoy, Leontyne Price, Ed Sullivan, Eli Wallach & Anne Jackson, Roy Wilkins, Flip Wilson, Mildred Dunnock, David Susskind, Bayard Rustin, Jim Bachus, Carlos Conde, Dina Merrill, John D. Rockefeller III, Debbie Offner, Cassandra Morgan, Arthur Goldberg, Richard Hatcher, Ossie Davis, Gwen Verdon, John W. Gardner, Pat Lambert, Jack Dempsey, Charles Lynch, Whitney Young, Ray Martel, Johnny Carson, Lillian Wong, Singer Williams, Dan Blocker, Chet Huntley, Myrna Loy, Cleveland Amory, Greg Morris, Greg Morris, Steve Lawrence, Ryan O'Neal, Leonard Nimoy, Dinah Shore, Gordon Parks, Carl Reiner, Martin Landau, Nipsy Russell.
Director Leonard Hirschfield used "a team of seven cinematographers" in the production. There's a 2 minute tape in the collection of the Paley Center (their database mentions Joshua Logan as the director), and another copy in the Historic Films archive (ID COM-19). For more context read these earlier posts: 1, 2.

01 December 2011

Ray Charles Live In Stockholm (1973)

On 2 October 1973 the Ray Charles troupe played a concert in Stockholm. In an earlier version of this article I reported on a partial recording (possibly originating from a radio broadcast) of six of the tunes that were performed during this  show, but I have now listened to a complete tape:
  1. Intro
  2. Let The Good Times Roll
  3. Georgia On My Mind
  4. The Bright Lights And You Girl
  5. The Long And Winding Road
  6. Feel So Bad
  7. Come Live With Me
  8. Introduction Raelettes
  9. Look What They've Done To My Song, Ma
  10. Don't Change On Me
  11. I Can't Stop Loving You (intro: Don't Change On Me)
  12. Wee Baby Blues
  13. What'd I Say (intro: So Soon) (with John Henderson)
#11, I Can't Stop Loving You, got a long and attractive, gospel-ish intro with some verses from the Don't Change On Me lyrics. Keyboardist John Henderson also filled in some backing vocals, together with the Raelettes on #9. Track #7, Wee Baby Blues, is the only known (slooooow) Ray Charles recording of this Joe Turner/Pete Johnson tune (see below, from YouTube, in a 1965 taping). The show's final (#13, What'd I Say), typically for almost all documented 1972 and 1973 concerts, got a long So Soon intro, with John Henderson (in my tape copy the song was faded out before it ended).

Wee Baby Blues:

30 November 2011

Ray Charles Live In Viareggio (1976)

In earlier posts I've described how some of Ray Charles' concerts (in 1979 and in 1984) in Viareggio were covered by Italian TV (and possibly also radio). This article in the newspaper Unita implies that an earlier performance, on 3 August 1976, was also televized by Rai Uno - on 16 September of that same year. I assume that this program has not survived.

Who knows more?

Ray Charles Live Over Radio At The Ann Arbor Festival (1973)

Photo by Cecil Lockard.
On 7 and 8 September 1973 the 4th Ann Arbor Blues And Jazz Festival took place at Otis Spann Memorial Field. The festival had been inaugurated by the University of Michigan in 1969, but was canceled in 1971. In 1972 the festival was successfully revived, and in 1973 the new organizers felt its programming was strong enough for a nation-wide live radio broadcast by NPR (over WILL AM and FM). The Ray Charles Show wound up the festival and the radio program on the Saturday evening. The entire festival was also broadcast by local station KUT-FM and KUNC, the University of Colorado's radio station, as part of a fundraiser (sources: Greeley Daily Tribune, Waterloo Iowa Daily Courier, 7 Sep. 1973).

A kind spirit provided me with some decent copies of six tracks that were performed during this concert (probably originating from the radio broadcast mentioned above).
Mr. Kip Brown submitted some great intelligence about what went on during Brother Ray's concert, and shared the correct set list. The best news is that the whole performance by the Ray Charles troupe has survived:
  1. Unidentified instrumental
  2. Intro
  3. Let The Good Times Roll
  4. Busted
  5. Hey Mister
  6. Georgia On My Mind
  7. I Feel So Bad
  8. He Called Me Baby (All Night Long) (with The Raelettes)
  9. I Can Make It Through The Days (But Oh Those Lonely Nights)
  10. Look What They've Done To My Song, Ma
  11. Love Train (The Raelettes)
  12. I Can't Stop Loving You (incomplete due to sound problems)
  13. Shake (The Raelettes)
  14. Every Saturday Night
  15. Seems Like I Gotta Do Wrong
  16. Louise
  17. What'd I Say
  18. Let's Go Get Stoned
#1 - see comments below.
Review in Cashbox,
Sep. 22, 1973.
#5 is a unique live versions, only known from the album Message From The People (it could've been a perfect protest song for the Occupy movement!).
Tune #8, He Called Me Baby (All Night Long), is the only known recorded performance by The Raelettes of this country song (written in 1962 by Harlan Howard). The Patsy Cline's version from 1963 was probably best known, but I guess this version by The Raelettes came closer to Candy Staton's record (Fame #1476) from 1970 (listen to clip, below), ...although the gorgeous version by Ella Washington (a #77 Pop/#38 R&B hit released by Sound Stage 7 in 1969; listen to clip, below) is also a worthy contender [but see Kip Brown's 3d comment].
#15, Louise, is a marvelously souled up version of the original release. I think if this version would have been released as a single, it could have been a much bigger hit.

Musicians: Greg Abate, Claude Johnson - alto saxophone; Wilbur Brown, James Clay - tenor saxophone; Leroy Cooper - bariton saxophone; Dan Ackerman, Phil Guilbeau, Walter Miller, Tony Horowitz - trumpet; Glenn Childress, Don Switzer, Ken Tussing, Craig Woods - trombone; John Henderson - organ;  Harvey Sarch - guitar; Edgar Willis - bass; Scott von Ravensberg - drums. Raelettes: Dorothy Berry, Denise Jackson, Mable John, Vernita Moss, Madelyn Quebec.*
*   Based on notes provided by Joël Dufour, and comments by Tony Horowitz.  

Patsy Cline, He Called Me Baby (All Night Long):

Ella Washington, He Called Me Baby (All Night Long):

From Ann Arbor Sun, April 23.
Ad from Ann Arbor Sun, July 12, 1973.
Ad from Ann Arbor Sun, Aug. 8, 1973.
More promotion materials here.

29 November 2011

Ray Charles On 20/20 (1981)

On 12 November 1981 the ABC news magazine 20/20 - which  offered investigative journalism items and entertainment features - had a documentary item on Ray Charles, made by correspondent Bob Brown. Through an interview with the Genius, cross-edited with new footage from Greenville, a few contemporary sequences from concerts, and Ray's performance before the Georgia State legislature, the feature focused on the usual biographical mantras.

Most of the concert segments showed fragments of a gig that must have been recorded a few years before, with a selection of Ray's biggest all-time hits (I've Got A Woman, What'd I Say, I Can't Stop Loving You, Georgia), but also with a beautiful brief finale of Am I Blue, with Johnny Coles (whose last stint with the band was in '79).
Also unexpectedly, for a few seconds we see Ray working in his studio, experimenting with a recording of Little Drummer Boy.

This clip promoted the 10-year anniversary special for 20/20 that was broadcast on June 9, 1988:

26 November 2011

Ray Charles Ft. In Schaefer Radio Show (1972)

  Ad in New York Amsterdam News,
Dec. 16, 1972.  
Schaefer, a beer brand, had already been sponsoring their eponymous music festival in New York for a few years, when, in 1972, they also initiated a series of heavily advertised radio shows - titled The Schaefer Circle Of Stars - around African American stars on WBLS-FM, hosted by Frankie Crooker.

Ray Charles was featured in the episode that aired on December 15.

Who knows some more about the format of the show?

Who's That Girl?

A photo in the New York Amsterdam News of August 3, 1963. Ray, as far as I know, did not have a daughter called Barbara. And the girl doesn't really look like an 11-year old.

So who is she?

23 November 2011

Ray Charles In TV Campaign For New Mexico Powerball Lottery (2002)

At the set, checking
the wrists of the Paylettes.
From 2000 to 2002 Ray Charles contributed to a substantial series of state lottery campaigns. For the Oregon campaign and a story on Ray's wider involvement with the Powerball brand, read this earlier article. The Oregon Lottery also ran the campaign shown below.
For my post on the New Jersey Lottery, and a story on Ray's involvement in several other State lottery campaigns, see this. For the Georgia Lottery, read this, and check this article for the Wisconsin Lottery campaign.
The New Mexico and Oregon campaigns entailed a series of five commercials, all with musical and visual variations on the jingle's theme It's America's Game (The One And Only PowerBall). The New Mexico campaign ran in 2002, and was marketed in English and Spanish.

Rock 'n Roll theme:

Country theme (with the Paylettes):

Contemporary pop theme (taped at RPM with the Paylettes):

Jazz theme:

R&B theme (with the Paylettes):

20 November 2011

Ray Charles Sings Reaching For The Dream, A Jingle For UNCF (1977)

In a recent update of my post on Ray's contributions to the Parade Of Stars telethons for the UNCF (United Negro College Fund), I wrote about an undated PSA, archived by the Paley Center for Media, where "Ray Charles explains in a jingle that a whole new generation [of black students] is 'reaching for the dream that spells tomorrow.'"

This infomercial was part of a long running campaign with the evergreen-slogan "A mind is a terrible thing to waste", created in 1971 by Y&R.  Sheldon Harris, in Blues Who's Who specifies that these commercials ran in 1977 - 1978, the sixth campaign year.

Ray Charles expert Joël Dufour informed me that the jingle was the soundtrack of an infomercial that was distributed (I assume only to media) on 8mm film (in 60 and 30 second versions). Ray did not appear in the film.

UNCF, probably as part of the same action to get TV and radio stations involved in airing these materials, also ordered for a small quantity of DJ-only 45RPM singles.*
The commercial was directed by Gordon Parks; the jingle penned by Bill Eaton (cf. comments). The campaign was kicked off in April.

I have submitted the track of this single to YouTube:

In a comment on YouTube, Stefanie Pezzino wrote: "From [what] I remember, the commercial features a boy on his way to the library. There was another boy walking beside him at one point on crutches. For reasons unknown, the part in the commercial where the handicapped boy & girl [were] dancing together with braces on their ankles gave me nightmares. All [in] all, great campaign with a great message! Would love to see it again."

* Has anybody ever seen a physical copy of this single; does anybody know an embeddable source for the actual film versions?

Update 22 January 2019:
Here's the commercial seen by Ms. Pezzino:

17 November 2011

Ray Charles Sings America The Beautiful At World Series (2001)

Who's that?
The weeks after 9/11 the American airwaves were filled with patriotic songs. Ray's America The Beautiful got tremendous airplay.

On 28 October 2001 he performed the song during game 2 of the World Series, at Bank One Ballpark (now Chase Field) in Phoenix, where the Arizona Diamondbacks played against (and beat) the New York Yankees. The photos seem to imply that Ray performed one or two songs more.

The match was aired by Fox. I assume the clip below comes from one of the DVDs offered here.
About one month after 9/11 the Today Show covered the song's (and Ray's) renewed popularity.

05 November 2011

Ray Charles' First Time In Concert At The Olympia In Paris (1962)

In 1961 his two triumphant concert series in France (first with his small big band in Antibes, then with his orchestra in Paris) had given Ray Charles a semi-devine status in France. But when he returned to Paris on 17 May 1962 the word-of-mouth had done its work, and the "semi" was gone. The welcoming crowd of fans and journalist - headed by the local megastar Johnny Hallyday - at Orly Airport treated him "tel un dieu", like a god.
You only have to see the article in Cinémonde and the photos reproduced below - and here, here and here - to understand the impact that his return made.

From Cinémonde magazine, 29 May 1962. 
From the 17th to the 22nd the Ray Charles group performed another totally sold out and very well received concert series at l'Olympia in Paris. There is proof that the French radio was present to record some of these (read this article for an update).  - but the evidence so far is only one track long (a version of Lil' Darlin'*). I wouldn't be surprised if more tapings were stored in the vaults of Ina, or other archives. The set lists in Paris of course may have come close to the Berlin concert in March 1962.
The Paris personnel was not too different from the October '61 line-up. I guess everybody wanted to experience (again) what it was like to be world famous in France: Marcus Belgrave, Wallace Davenport, Phil Guilbeau, John Hunt - trumpets; Henderson Chambers, James Harbert, Keg Johnson, Leon Comegys - trombones; Hank Crawford, Rudy Powell - alto saxophones; David Newman - tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, flute; Don Wilkerson - tenor saxophone; Leroy Cooper - baritone saxophone; Sonny Forriest - guitar; Edgar Willis - bass; Bruno Carr - drums. The Raelettes were the same group of girls as in '61: Pat Lyles, Margie Hendricks, Gwen Berry, and Darlene McCrea.

This poster is probably from 1962 (but could also be from 1963 or 1964).

Souvenir program, most probably from these concert series at the Olympia. "Twist Panorama" refers to a locally released compilation album carrying that title (Vega LP33), with songs by "Ray Charles, son orchestre et les Raelets", Maxine Brown, Lloyd price, Jon Thomas, The Barkays, and Jo Ann Campbell. 
 Keg Johnson is erroneously credited as a trumpeter; the other trombonists are missing in the line-up published here.

Coll. J.P. Verger.

Reception (precise date unknown) at the Club d'Étoile, organized by Vega, the local records distrubutor. Left: Bruno Coquatrix, owner of the Olympia; right: Eddie Barclay of Vega.

This photo was shot on or shortly after the 17th - backstage (source says incorrectly: at La Salle Pleyel).
*Information kindly provided by J.P. Verger.

04 November 2011

The Montreux 1997 Bonus: 3 Ray Charles Orchestra Pieces

The concert in Montreux on July 19th, 1997 is one of the best documented shows of the Ray Charles group. The concert was videotaped with 7 or 8 cameras, the sound recording had studio quality, and the show's director didn't miss a beat, editing an entirely relevant final montage of luscious close-ups and wider shots.
All music footage seems to have survived, including all four instrumentals that were played by the Ray Charles Orchestra that night.* (Only circulating among fans, there's even a few minutes of documentary video of the stage preparations).
The Blu-ray edition of the concert (Eagle Rock, 2008) has a unique interview with Ray, where he comments on all tracks that were part of the basic edition. As a second bonus this rare DVD also presents three more  instrumentals by the Ray Charles Orchestra:

1. Just Friends (solos by Steve Elliott, Ken Scharf)
2. Beatrice (solos by Wayne Coniglio, David Hoffman)
3. Pas-Se-O-Ne Blues (solos by Rudy Johnson, David Hoffman, Ken Scharf)

#1, Just Friends arranged by Bob Florence.
#2, Beatrice arranged by Wayne Coniglio).
# 3, Pas-Se-O-Ne Blues, was first taped for the album My Kind Of Jazz (1970), but this remains the only known live recording. The beautiful solo by Rudy Johnson on Pas-Se-O-Ne is essential jazz history. Johnson played with the band for a quarter of a century, but precious few of his solos have been captured on video.

Ted Murdock, Roger Ingram, David Hoffman, Ken Scharf - trumpets; Mike Guerrier, Steve Sigmund, Clay Lawrey, Wayne Coniglio - trombones; Al Waters, Al Jackson, Steve Elliott, Rudy Johnson, James Farnsworth - saxophones; Kenny Carr - guitar; Tom Fowler - bass; Ernest Vantrease - keyboards; Peter Turre - drums.

*The 4th instrumental was David Hoffman's Forty Pound Limit, which was part of the basic DVD release; see this

27 October 2011

Ray Charles Live In Antibes (1961)

The 1961 Festival
French Ray Charles fans (video still).
The 1961 edition of the Antibes Jazz Festival, in later years also known as Jazz à Juan, was the second in its history. It had Ray Charles, Count Basie, and Les McCann as headliners, but Ray was given a super star treatment, and actually fulfilled the role of - what we would now call - the artist in residence. Charles, his Orchestra (i.e. his 'small big band') and The Raelettes performed (at least) four times, and Ray was invited to  all or most official receptions and gala meetings.

The concert series
The 2me Festival International Du Jazz, was first announced to be held from 17 to 23 July 1963 ("avec le Concours de la Radiodiffusion Television Française"), but the festival actually took place from the 18th until the 24th. The magazine Jazz Hot announced 3 sets by Ray Charles on the 20th, the 21st and the 23d (all scheduled at 9.30 p.m. at the Pinède Gould), and implied a possible 4th performance at the "Closing Gala at the Casino of Juan-les-Pins" on July 24th.
Poster (or program cover?)
of the 1961 festival,
with wrong date
range, as reproduced
by the magazine Jazz Hot.
In fact, there were four concert dates: 18, 19, 21 and 22 July - if Ray performed during the closing gala, the show was not taped, or the recording(s) didn't survive.
The four shows were taped for radio, and filmed for TV. All radio recordings have survived; the filmed performances that stil exist made it to the 2011 DVD discussed below.

TV recordings
According to the liner notes of the 2011 DVD (see below), four concerts were filmed for ORTF television, all  directed by Jean-Christophe Averty (who, until the early 1990s, would be involved in many more of Ray's concert tapings in France). The same concerts were also taped for radio broadcasts. The latter, of course in a remastered version, were used for the audio part of the 2011 DVD.
The producers of the DVD-set Ray Charles Live In France 1961 (Eagle Vision DVD EREDV904) discovered that the footage from the festival was originally edited into nine different Best of the Antibes Jazz Festival programs, broadcast by RTF from the summer of 1961 to the spring of 1962. "This Ray Charles footage was never intended to be shown as a full-length project," explained Reelin' In The Years' David Peck, "But [...] we found the radio recordings of the full sets, giving us a way to edit everything together to become this seamless experience and amazing document of Ray Charles."

The part of the Ina archive that I have access to has databased several TV items. It's not yet clear to me how these items relate to the series of 9 programs mentioned in the paragraph above, and/or if (some of?) the contents of these programs were used for the 2011 DVD:
  • Interview Ray Charles and Count Basie ('61 DM Antibes)First aired on TF 1 News on 18 July 1961. Contents: Airport of Orly; Ray Charles comes from plane; Ray Charles carrying a Bible in Braille under his arm; interviews by François de La Maisonneuve with Ray Charles and Count Basie. (Ina ID CAF91038028).
  • Festival 1961: Ray Charles. First aired on 21 July 1961 by TF 1. Contents a.o.: 1. Doodlin' (Ray Charles Orchestra), Let The Good Times Roll, Georgia On My Mind, Sticks And Stones (Ina ID CPF86644253); 2. Georgia On My Mind (Ina ID CPF86644253). 
  • Festival 1961: Count Basie - Ray Charles. First aired on TF 1 on 21 October 1961. Contents: 1. Festival overview with clips from concerts by Ray Charles and Count Basie (Ina ID CPF86644255); 2. What'd I Say (Ina ID CPF86644255).
Bootleg CD
The bootleggish Italian audio CD titled Rock + Soul = Genius (Jazz Music Yesterday, CD HMY1009-2) has all tunes from the first concert on 18 July 1961, plus "Ruby" from the concert on 21 July. The materials  at one time have been part of an exchange program between French radio and the Italian public radio station RAI. For more information on the EBU exchange program, also see this post.
It's highly probable that Rock + Soul = Genius was bootlegged from tape copies of the original French RTF recordings, that were used by RAI.
One of the tracks on the CD has an erroneous title, Hot Rod. The correct title is ‎Popo (the tune penned by Shorty Rogers, here with a nice tenor/alto battle between David Newman and Hank Crawford). For Shorty's original, see and hear this.

Bootleg DVD (DVD1)
The bootleg DVD Jazz à Juan (a while ago on sale via Ebay), seemed to represent all film footage stored at Ina, the French national radio and tv archive. It presented the setlists of a Première Partie, a Deuxième Partie (this numbering was fictional), and five Bonus items. But the bootleg missed two tracks, namely the versions of I Wonder and Sticks And Stones from the last two concerts in the series.
Bootleg Ray à Juan

Official DVD (DVD2) 
The contents of the 'official' DVD, Ray Charles - Live in France 1961 are very similar to the bootleg, but of course the new release presents the film footage and the audio in optimized, remastered versions. The producers' notes of Ray Charles Live In France 1961 go deeper into some of the provenance and production details:
"It is from these [9 RTF] programs that we culled 105 minutes of Ray Charles' various performances and tried to reassemble them into the original order of the sets. It is important to note that the footage included in this [DVD] was never originally intended to be broadcast as a full-length program."
"In 1961, long before the digital age, films were edited by physically cutting and splicing segments together and discarding the rest (on the famed “cutting room floor.”) Unfortunately, this is why only 105 minutes exist from the four sets Ray and the band performed in July 1961. The biggest task for us was how to put the 25 songs that were spread out across the various programs back together into a seamless Ray Charles concert experience. To make matters worse, the individual songs were often missing the first and last notes. Fortunately, the full sets existed as radio recordings. This allowed us to (for the most part) rearrange the clips into their original running order, fix all of the missing heads and tails of the performances, and as a bonus, gave the whole project far superior sound! This still left us with the challenge of creating the visual bridges between the songs; our solution to this was to insert audience shots culled from the over 20 hours of footage filmed at the festival that year."
The audio mastering was done by Joe Palmaccio. "He took our damaged 50-year-old radio tapes that were less than ideally recorded and brought out a brilliant, fully rounded sonic clarity that we could have only hoped was somehow buried in those tapes."
The video quality of the DVD is superior as compared to the bootleg, but less good than I hoped for (the video remastering is sub-optimal). The audience shots (also taken from concerts by other artists) are no clear improvement (the editor made an awkward mistake when he combined one of the later concerts with a telelens shot from one of the earlier RC concerts).
In the reconstruction of the footage, Eagle Vision must have followed the editors of the bootleg DVD, thus also copying the mistake of attributing 3 tunes from the 21 July-concert to the concert on the 22nd.

The DVD-film's "worldwide premiere" took place on 20 October 2011, presented by the American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles. The screening was followed by "a panel discussion, moderated by biographer David Ritz, that included director David Peck, one of the film’s producers Tom Gulotta, Ray Charles catalog authority James Austin and Rob Bowman, associate professor of Ethnomusicology at Toronto's York University, whose incisive liner notes are part of the Ray Charles - Live In France 1961 package".  The complete DVD can be watched here:

Official 2011 DVD Trailer:

Table with all releases
A few handfuls of the recorded tunes remain unreleased. In a table the battlefield looks as follows (Radio = INA Radio archive, CD1 = JMY 1009-2, CD2 = FA 5643 [details to follow, BS], DVD = EREDV904):

A. 18 July 1961 Radio CD1 CD2 DVD
1. Doodlin’  X X X
2. The Story  X X X
3. Lil’ Darlin’ X X
4. One Mint Julep  X X X
5. Let the Good Times Roll   X X X
6. Georgia On My Mind   X X X
7. My Bonnie X X
8. (Night Time Is) The Right Time* X X
9. Sticks And Stones   X X X
10 Hallelujah, I Love Her So  X X X
11 What'd I Say   X X X
* INA: Night Time is The Right Times
B. 19 July 1961 Radio CD1 CD2 DVD
1. The Story   X X
2. In A Little Spanish Town X
3. Lil Darlin’ X
4. Popo*  X
5. Let The Good Times Roll X
6. Georgia On My Mind X
7. Sticks And Stones   X X
8. My Baby (I Love Her, Yes I Do) X
9. Yes Indeed   X X
10 I Believe To My Soul   X X
11 What'd I Say  X X
* INA: Hup Beat?? Up Beat?? 
C. 21 July 1961 Radio CD1 CD2 DVD
1. Popo* X X
2. Lil Darlin’ X X
3. Let The Good Times Roll  X
4. Ruby**  X X X
5. My Bonnie** X X
6. With You On My Mind**    X X
7. Sticks And Stones X
8. I Wonder  X X
9. What'd I Say  X
* INA: Hot Road. ** Indicated as being from 22 July on DVD.
D. 22 July 1961 Radio CD1 CD2 DVD
1. Popo* X
2. Lil Darlin’ X
3. Hornful Soul** X X
4. Let The Good Time Roll  X X
5. Georgia On My Mind X X
6. My Bonnie*** X
7. With You On My Mind X
8. Tell The Truth X X
9. I Wonder  X X
10 Sticks And Stones X X
11 I Believe To My Soul X X
12 What'd I Say  X X
* INA: Hot Road. ** INA: Hip Beat?? Up Beat?? *** INA: Yes Indeed.

Musicians: Phil Guilbeau, John Hunt - trumpets, Hank Crawford - alto saxophone;  David Newman - tenor saxophone, flute; Leroy Cooper - baritone saxophone; Edgar Willis - bass; Bruno Carr - drums. The Raelettes: Pat Lyles,  Margie Hendricks, Gwen Berry, Darlene McCrea.

Other footage
The INA archive also shelved a brief (and not very interesting) interview with Ray Charles and Count Basie at their arrival on Orly Airport, and a fragment of one of Count Basie's concerts, with Ray standing in the audience.

Frank Ténot, referring to a concert at the Washington Howard Theater that he recently witnessed [probably one of the series of concerts in early November of 1960], compiled an audio portrait of Ray, with fragments from his records, for the audio magazine Sonorama (July - August 1961).

Photos, documents
Poster in Antibes, "Celui que l'Amérique appelle 'le genie'" (collection J.P. Verger).
Article (i.e. most of it) by R. Langel in Tribune de Lausanne (Oct. 27) with a review and unique photos.
From Cinémonde, 17 October 1961.

One of the infamous Antibes kitchen chairs from the first concert. The festival organizers obviously didn't expect the band to read music.

The Raelettes (L-R Pat Lyles, Margie Hendrix, Gwen Berry, Darlene McCrea), from 1963 UK Tour brochure) , probably at Antibes Jazz fest (from 1963 UK tour brochure).

David Newman, Hank Crawford, John Hunt, and the kitchen chairs (collection J.P. Verger).
The band on the 18th: Edgar Willis, Leroy Cooper, Bruno Carr, David Newman, Hank Crawford, John Hunt, Phil Guilbeau (still or photo?).
Photo by René Vital/Paris Match.
Photo by René Vital/Paris Match.

Photo by René Vital/Paris Match.
From Rallye Jeunesse. Nov. 1961 (courtesy of André Monnot).

The Raelettes (collection J.P. Verger).

From Swiss 1961 souvenir brochure.
From 1962 concert souvenir brochure.
From Swiss 1961 souvenir brochure.

Photo by Jean-Pierre Leloir.
Coll. J.P. Verger.
Ray's exit at one of the later concerts (collection J.P. Verger).
On stage with mayor Dumas; Joe Adams left, Phil Guilbeau right (collection J.P. Verger).

Photo by Jean-Pierre Leloir.

Reception a/o press conference, with mr. Dumas, the mayor of Antibes/Juan-les-Pins, Count Basie and Ray Charles.
"Three greats get together as the mayor of a French city honors, left to right, Count Basie and Ray Charles in a museum over 400 years old at a reception given by the city. The painting in the background is an original Picsasso"; from 1962 concert souvenir brochure.
"Ray Charles, Jeff Brown, Joe Adams, Henry Godgran as Ray 'watches' the latest Parisian styles on the Riviera in France"; from 1962 concert souvenir brochure.
 Ray Charles and Raita Johnson attending a Count Basie concert.
 EP released by Vega in early 1960s; the cover photo, showing Ray attending a Count Basie concert in Antibes, was taken by Jean-Pierre Leloir. Also see this.
Prob. part of the same photo series.
(Collection J.P. Verger).
Article in Disco Revue (Oct. 12, 1961). Ray promises the interviewer to take language courses, to get beyond the stage of the 'merci beaucoups', Then he asks her to scout a 20 acre terrain for him in France, big enough to build a house and to land his plane.
Photo by by René Vital/Paris Match.
Photo by Jacques Chenard.
Ray Charles' love affair with the blonde Finnish journalist Raita Johnson started with an interview in Antibes. Photos (c) Rancurel.

No paragraph of this article could have been written without the limitless knowledge and generosity of Joël Dufour.