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

27 February 2011

Ray Charles Live in Antibes (1961 - 2001)

Ray's concerts at Antibes span his whole international live career. After his debut at the edition of 1961 it took him 15 years to return, but after 1976 he came back every 2 or 3 years: in 1978, 1979, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1990, 1992, 1997, 1999, and 2001. All of his visits to Antibes are documented on film, video, or audio.

Jazz has been part of Antibes' musical landscape since the mid 1920’s. The music was introduced to Antibes by the American artist and jazz music connoisseur Gerald Murphy and his visiting guests, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald.
During its second season, Juan’s new casino welcomed a troupe of Charleston dancers one evening. Captivated by the atmosphere of this crazy night, the Murphy’s organised a sumptuous private party which was to inspire Scott Fitzgerald’s most famous novel, Tender Is the Night, and the Murphy’s lifestyle in Antibes would serve as a model for his other masterpiece, Les Enfants du Jazz.
In 1928, Gerald left Antibes for Hollywood where the film maker King Vidor asked him to be his advisor for the shooting of Hallelujah, the first film played entirely by black actors and dedicated to their culture.
Jazz in Juan, at this period, remained carefree. As early as 1927, the Auberge du Pin Doré welcomed the Blue Lagoon Orchestra, and the following year, the inauguration of the Pré-Catelan took place to the sounds of Danny’s Jazz Band. In 1932, Juan celebrated the 250th anniversary of champagne and for this tribute to Dom Pérignon, the new club Maxim’s accommodated no less than three orchestras: jazz, tango and rumba.
Sidney Bechet married in Antibes in 1951 and organized one of the biggest street parties ever seen on the French Riviera. At the event that Picasso painted his famous La joie de vivre masterpiece. After Bechet’s death in 1959, the first Jazz à Juan was held to pay tribute to his talent and passion for jazz (the event was organized by Jacques Hébey and  Jacques Souplet). Since then, at the heart of the Pinède Gould, the longest-running European jazz festival, Jazz à Juan, takes place each summer.
The 1960 edition was the origin of a number of other festivals that spread throughout Europe (Claude Nobs, creator of the major European jazz event that we know as Montreux, said "If I hadn’t stopped by at Antibes, Montreux would not have existed"). It attracted many of the great names of the time, including Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and Ella Fitzgerald.
The following year, 1961, Ray Charles came for the first time. He came back (the story goes, but I fail to see the direct connection, BS;-) so many times that Juan les Pins was twinned with the "French Quarter" in New Orleans.

Ray Charles in France
Ray was immensely popular in France. Jazz Hot magazine started featuring him in 1959, followed him for 10 days in 1961, put him on the cover in 1961 and in 1962, and kept on featuring him closely until the end. 

20 February 2011

Rita Graham, Vibrations (Ray Charles On Piano) (1969)

  1. You Better Go Now
  2. Quiet Nights Of Quiet Stars
  3. (There Is) No Greater Love
  4. Meditation
  5. P.S. I Love You
  6. Charade
  7. The Genie
  8. My Cup Runneth Over
  9. You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To
  10. Cover photo by Howard Morehead. 
  11. If I Could Be With You (One Hour Tonight)
    Recorded at RPM International in Los Angeles, in three sessions at RPM Studio in Los Angeles.

    On February 23, 1968 #1, #2, #8, and #9 were recorded with Clifford Scott (flute); Billy Preston, ; Barry Rillera (guitar); Al McKibbon (electric bass); Edward “Sharky” Hall (drums); Jerry Reisler, Stanley Plummer, William Kurasch, William Weiss, Mischa Russell, Bill Hymanson, Tibor Zelig (violin); Joe DiFiore, Harry Hyams (viola); Ray Kelley (cello).

    On March 25, 1968 #3, #4, #5 and Treat Me Good were recorded with Jim Horn (electric flute); Truman Thomas (piano); Howard M. Roberts (guitar); Bob West (electric bass); Earl Palmer (drums); Sid Sharp, Marshall Sosson, Lou Klass, Israel Baker, Tibor Zelig, Ralph Schaeffer, William Kurasch (violin); Harry Hyams, Joe DiFiore (viola); Jesse Ehrlich (cello).

    The details of the third session, where #6 and #7 were recorded, are unknown.

    Treat Me Good can probably be identified with the Jimmy Radcliffe / Buddy Scott song, as recorded e.g. in 1967 by Julie London for her With Body And Soul album (Liberty ‎LRP-3514).

    Sid Feller (arranger, conductor, producer); Ray Charles (co-producer).

    From the liner notes by Lu Washington: "Rita Graham combined her innate musical talents with the painstaking aid of Ray Charles to produce this unusual work. From the time of her discovery by Ray Charles, he has worked relentlessly with Miss Graham in developing her style."

    All in all, it took one and a half year to produce the album. Read this interview with Rita: on their first meeting, the recording of the album, the lack of promotion, and her later role as a Raelette. Her webpage is here.

    Tangerine TRCS 1507, 1969.

    Bought Blues (By Percy Mayfield, Ray Charles On Piano) (1971)

    1. Never No More*
    2. Ha Ha In The Day Time*
    3. I Reached For A Tear*
    4. My Bottle Is My Companion
    5. We Both Must Cry
    6. River's Invitation*
    7. Pretty Eyed Baby
    8. Long As You're Mine
    9. You Don't Exist Anymore
    10. Fading Love
    * Ray played on these tracks. Known personnel on Percy's earliest Tangerine tracks: Percy Mayfield - vocals; Ray Charles - piano; Marcus Belgrave - trumpet; Hank Crawford - alto saxophone; Sonny Forriest - guitar; David Fathead Newman - tenor saxophone; Edgar Willis - bass; Milt Turner - drums; Billy Preston - organ; Gerald Wilson - arranger.

    (The liner notes to the 2003 compilation CD also mention Al McKibbon - bass, Teddy Edwards - tenor saxophone, Howard Roberts - Guitar, Johnny Guitar Watson - guitar, Chuck Norris - guitar).
    Album: Tangerine TRCS 1510, 1971. Compilation album: Percy Mayfield, His Tangerine And Atlantic Sides. Rhino Handmade, 2003, ASIN: B0001MMG36:

    For the documentary read this.

    My Jug And I (By Percy Mayfield, Ray Charles On Piano) (1966)


    1. My Jug And I
    2. River's Invitation
    3. Baby Please
    4. Stranger In My Own Home Town
    5. Never Say Naw
    6. The Hunt Is On
    7. Memory Pain
    8. I Reached For A Tear
    9. Life Is Suicide
    10. Maybe It's Because Of Love
    11. Give Me Time
    12. Fading Love

    Recorded between 1963 and c. 1966 at unidentified studios, prob. in Los Angeles.

    Personnel on Percy's Tangerine tracks 1962 - 1971: Percy Mayfield - vocals; Ray Charles - piano; [needs revisionsBilly Preston - organ; Hank Crawford - alto saxophone; David Fathead Newman - tenor saxophone; Marcus Belgrave - trumpet; Sonny Forriest - guitar; Edgar Willis - bass; Milt Turner - drums]. Gerald Wilson - arranger.

    Album: Tangerine TRCS 1505, 1966.
    The tracks of the elpee were also released on the compilation album Percy Mayfield, His Tangerine And Atlantic Sides. Rhino Handmade, 2003.

    17 February 2011

    Genius & Soul: The 50th Anniversary Collection (1949 - 1993)

    This 5-CD compilation boxset includes 16 tracks from singles that were not before coherently reissued on an album, some duets otherwise only known from other artists' albums, and two hidden bonus tracks with soundtracks of commercials.

    5-CD Box, Rhino/WEA, 16 September 1997, ASIN: B00000343O.

    Disc 1
    1. Confession Blues
    2. Baby Let Me Hold Your Hand
    3. Kissa Me Baby
    4. It Should've Been Me
    5. Don't You Know
    6. Come Back Baby
    7. I Got A Woman
    8. A Fool for You
    9. This Little Girl Of Mine
    10. Blackjack
    11. Greenbacks
    12. Drown In My Own Tears
    13. Hallelujah, I Love Her So
    14. Lonely Avenue
    15. Leave My Woman Alone
    16. Ain't That Love
    17. Swanee River Rock (Talkin' 'Bout That River)
    18. My Bonnie
    19. Rock House, Pts. 1-2
    20. Night Time Is The Right Time
    21. What'd I Say, Pts. 1 & 2
    22. Tell The Truth
    23. I Believe To My Soul
    24. Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying
    Disc 2
    1. Let The Good Times Roll
    2. Come Rain Or Come Shine
    3. Tell The Truth
    4. Drown In My Own Tears
    5. I'm Movin' On
    6. My Baby (I Love Her, Yes I Do)
    7. Sticks and Stones
    8. I Wonder
    9. Georgia on My Mind
    10. Them That Got
    11. Ruby
    12. Hard Hearted Hannah
    13. I've Got News for You
    14. One Mint Julep
    15. I'm Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town
    16. Hit The Road Jack
    17. Danger Zone
    18. Unchain My Heart
    19. But on The OTher Hand Baby
    20. Baby, It's Cold Outside
    21. Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye
    22. At The Club
    Disc 3
    1. Hide Nor Hair
    2. I Can't Stop Loving You
    3. Bye Bye Love
    4. Born To Lose
    5. You Don't Know Me
    6. You Are My Sunshine
    7. Your Cheatin' Heart
    8. Take These Chains From My Heart
    9. The Brightest Smile In Town
    10. Without Love (There Is Nothing)
    11. Busted
    12. That Lucky Old Sun (Just Rolls Around Heaven All Day)
    13. Ol' Man River
    14. Smack Dab In The Middle
    15. Makin' Whoopee
    16. Without A Song, Pts. 1 & 2
    17. The Cincinnati Kid
    18. Crying Time
    19. Let's Go Get Stoned
    20. I Chose To Sing The Blues
    21. Together Again
    22. I Don't Need No Doctor 
    Disc 4
    1. Eleanor Rigby
    2. Yesterday
    3. Understanding
    4. Driftin' Blues
    5. Here We Go Again
    6. In The Heat Of The Night
    7. Gee Baby, Ain't I Good To You
    8. I Didn't Know What Time It Was
    9. If It Wasn't For Bad Luck
    10. We Can Make It
    11. Don't Change on Me
    12. Feel So Bad
    13. Look What They've Done To MySong, Ma
    14. Spirit In The Dark (Reprise)
    15. Booty-Butt
    16. I Can Make It Thru The Day (But Oh Those Lonely Nights)
    17. Rainy Night In Georgia
    18. America The Beautiful
    (Hidden Track: Coca Cola Commercial)

    Disc 5
    1. Living For The City
    2. Till There Was You
    3. Am I Blue
    4. How Long Has This Been Going On?
    5. The Jealous Kind
    6. Is There Anyone Out There?
    7. Don't You Love Me Anymore
    8. One Of These Days
    9. Seven Spanish Angels
    10. We Didn't See A Thing
    11. Two Old Cats Like Us
    12. Shake A Tail FeaTher
    13. I'll Be Good To You
    14. That's Where It's At
    15. A Song for You
    16. Still Crazy After All These Years
    (Hidden Track: Olympia Beer Commercial) 

    07 February 2011

    Ray Charles Featured In Down Beat (1956)

    This is the first full page magazine article about Ray Charles that I know of, from Down Beat, dated 28 November 1956. Wexler's quote on the "soul part" of the blues is remarkable - possibly the earliest instance where Ray's music was associated with the term soul. The essence of RC's biographical mantra is there, but small mistakes ("parents", "uncle") show that Ray can't have been personally involved in briefing the writer.

    06 February 2011

    Rare Photos Of The Ray Charles Orchestra & The Raelettes In Paris (1963)

    Early photos of Ray Charles are relatively rare, but photos from the musicians in his band and of The Raelettes are really scarce. People who regularly follow this blog have seen that lately I've spent quite some effort in documenting the few pics that are available on the web.

    That's how I came across the Facebook page of trumpet player Phillip (Phil) Guilbeau (1926 - 2005), maintained by his daughter Nina. Browsing that page about a week ago, I found a magnificent photo of the Ray Charles Orchestra, obviously from the early 1960s. Intrigued and touched by a comment of one of Guilbeau's grandchildren ("who are all these people"?), I shared the same photo on my own Facebook page, and asked people to help me tag the protagonists in the photo. Things went fast when Leroy Cooper biographer Susan Cross asked Joel Dufour, the #1 Ray Charles connaisseur in the world, to help me out. Joel responded immediately, with a full concordance of the musicians in the photo...
    ...and with one even bigger surprise. He saw that the photo was from the same series that was published on 23 May 1963 in France Soir, and added a cut out from a variant photo in that publication, where the Raelettes and singer Jean King have stepped into the frame of the Orchestra picture. The pictures were taken in Paris, Dufour writes, presumably on 22 May 1963.
    Musicians: 1. Julian Priester (tb), 2. James Harbert (tb), 3. Phillip Guilbeau (tp), 4. Wallace Davenport (tp, band leader), 5. John Hunt (tp, flh), 6. Oliver Beener (tp), 7. Henderson Chambers (tb), 8. Frederic 'Keg' Johnson (b, tb), 9. Edgar Willis (b), 10. Wilbert Hogan (dm), 11. Elbert 'Sonny' Forriest (g), 12. Bennie 'Hank' Crawford (as), 13. James Clay (ts), 14. William 'Buddy' Pearson (as), 15. Leroy Cooper (bs). Singers: 16. Marjorie (Margie) Hendricks (Raelette), 17. Gwen(dolyn) Berry (Raelette), 18. Jean King (featured singer), 19. Priscilla (Pat) Lyles (Raelette), 20. Ethel (Darlene) McCrea (Raelette).

    That week Ray sold out his show at the Olympia Theater for seven (May 22nd - 28th) days in a row. Jean (Louise) King (1938 - 1983), of Blossoms fame, had her own solo spot in these concerts, accompanied by Ray and the band.
    David Fathead Newman was missing in the Orchestra 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 (and again caused some - this time internal - drugs-related trouble), but he didn't make it to the concerts because his place in the band was already taken by the English tenor saxophone player 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 the flute parts on Georgia On My Mind (a partial sound recording has survived).

    Some TV footage of the 1963 French tour has survived; see this.
     Band leader and trumpet player Wallace Davenport, Ray Charles, and Vic Ash. 

    04 February 2011

    Ray Charles On Public People, Private Lives (1989)

    Public People, Private Lives was a gossip talkshow, hosted by Sarah Purcell, featuring interviews with famous personalities in the stars' own homes. It ran for one season, 1988/89.
    On or around 2 October 1989 Purcell had Cheryl Tiegs, Larry Hagman and Ray Charles on her show.

    Here's the - surprisingly candid - interview segment with RC:

    03 February 2011

    Ray Charles On Donahue's 25th Anniversary Show (1992)

    From the late 60s to the mid 90s Phil Donahue hosted a series of successful talkshow formats for NBC. His last day-show format was aptly titled Donahue. On 15 November 1992 he was celebrated by fellow talk show hosts as a mentor and patriarch of the genre, with Donahue: The 25th Anniversary, directed by Gary Halvorson.
    John Leonard in New York Magazine announced the content of the show like this: "[It] has everybody from Marlo [Donahue] to Muhammad Ali, from Dr. Ruth to Jerry Rubin, from Gloria Steinem to Ray Charles. It's as if your very worst dreams of daytime television got together to throw a three-ring circus in your head. Why, then, did I love every minute of the unfinished preview cassette?"
    The New York Times tagged it, more matter-of-factly, as "A special saluting Phil Donahue that includes film clips of past programs, on-stage reunions and personalities he has interviewed in the past 25 years." The latter implies that Ray had been on the show before.

    Who knows more?