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29 August 2011

Ray Charles Live In Berlin And Frankfurt (1967)

Photo from concert in Milan, during the same tour.
The year 1967 has long been a barren time zone in the history of documented live performances by Ray Charles. Only recently, I was happily surprised to find a (partial) copy of a concert in Paris, on 18 April 1967, in my inbox - even though the quality of these soundfiles was even a little worse than just bad.
Milan concert, April '67.
But an other follower of this blog has just provided me with an even bigger surprise, entailing not only a couple of better copies of tunes from aforementioned concert in Paris, but also from two complete concerts in Berlin and Frankfurt.
The concert in Berlin took place on 3 May 1967, at the Sport Palast. My guess is that the Frankfurt show, just like in other German tours of the Ray Charles group, came right after that - probably in the The concert took place at the Höchst Jahrhunderthalle on April 29. just like the year before and the year after.
I don't know by whom the concerts were taped, but the story is that both concerts were originally produced  for radio broadcasting. The sound quality of both copies is mediocre, but just acceptable.

The personnel was probably identical to the line-up in Paris, with the exception of Billy Preston (whose B3-moans on Going Down Slow were replaced by Rillera's electric guitar).
Musicians: Marshall Hunt, Walter Miller, Carl Adams, Bill King - trumpet; Henry Coker, Fred Murrell, Donald Cook, Keg Johnson - trombone; Joe Roccisano, Curits Peagler, Curtis Amy (bandleader), Shellie Thomas, Leroy Cooper - saxophone; Billy Moore - drums; Barry Rillera - guitar; Edgar Willis - bass. The Raelettes: Merry Clayton, Alexandra Brown, Clydie King, Gwen Berry.

Berlin setlist:
  1. Intro
  2. Instrumental 
  3. Goodness Gracious* (guitar solo Barry Rillera)
  4. Soft Winds
  5. I've Got A Woman
  6. Georgia On My Mind
  7. Hallelujah I Just Love Her So
  8. You Made Me Love You (I Didn't Want To Do It)
  9. Going Down Slow (guitar solo by Barry Rillera)
  10. Hold On, I'm Coming (The Raelettes)
  11. One Hurt Deserves Another (The Raelettes) 
  12. Shake (The Raelettes)
  13. Don't Set Me Free (ft. Merry Clayton)
  14. Crying Time (with Gwen Berry)
  15. If You Love Me Like You Say (ft. Clydie King)
  16. I Can't Stop Loving You
  17. I Don't Need No Doctor
  18. Baby, It's Cold Outside (ft. Alex Brown)
  19. Let's Go Get Stoned
  20. You Are My Sunshine (ft. Merry Clayton)
  21. What'd I Say
  22. Outro 
'67 LC Berlin - I Don't Need No Doctor (soundclip):

'67 LC Berlin - What'd I Say (soundclip):

Frankfurt setlist:
  1. Intro
  2. Instrumental 
  3. I've Got A Woman
  4. You Made Me Love You (I Didn't Want To Do It)
  5. Going Down Slow
  6. Soft Winds
  7. Don't Set Me Free (ft. Merry Clayton)
  8. Crying Time (ft. Gwen Berry)
  9. What'd I Say
  10. Outro
The #1 instrumentals at both concerts were the same tune. The #2 track of the Berlin concert is Goodness Gracious, a rocking tune dominated by Rillera's marvelous guitar playing (the origin of the song is so far unknown; it was rarely called by Ray, but it stayed on the band's repertoire well into the '90s).
So far, the only known live version of Soft Winds was from the Pleyel concert in 1968. The Raelettes vehicle One Hurt Deserves Another was so far only known from their Tangerine album Souled Out (from 1971).
If You Love Me Like You Say is the only known live recording by the Ray Charles band of this Little Johnny Taylor tune (Ray, Clydie and the band in 1968 also taped in the studio, but the Tangerine master was only found back about 40 years later; it came out in 2007, as part of Clydie King - The Imperial & Minit Years; Stateside EMI 5099950958122, 2007).
Maybe the biggest gem is Let's Go Get Stoned, so far only known in just a few live versions.

On December 20, 1967, the radio and TV guide page of the Friese Koerier, a Dutch newspaper, listed a one-hour show with Ray Charles, to be aired by the second German network (ZDF) with the Dutch title De wereld van de jazz (the world of jazz), "a recording made in Frankfurt".

I have a strong feeling that the Hit The Road Jack-clip below, which I still haven't properly identified or dated, is from 1967. Does anybody have a clue when and where it was taped?

* Title of this instrumental kindly provided by Dave Hoffman and Peter Turre. The tune was still part of the Orchestra's book during the '80s and '90s.

28 August 2011

Ray Charles Interviewed At A Graveyard In 1976

The person who put up these photos for auction suggested they are stills from a 1976 shoot, and had reason to nominate comedian-actor Stu Gilliam for the director's role. A couple of photos were shot at a graveyard...

Who knows more? 

27 August 2011

Ray Charles In Nîmes (1985)

Audience in the Nîmes Arena during a Ray Charles concert in 1999.
Between 1976 en 1988 Jazz70, a group of jazz enthousiasts, organized the International Jazz Festival in Nîmes, at the local Amphitheater. Jazz70 are now sharing their documentary video archives on Vimeo.
On 20 July 1985 (according to my database, but two of the clips below are dated on 15 July) they headlined Ray Charles with the Raelettes and his Orchestra.* The quality of the footage is mediocre, but certainly has some documentary value, with nice shots of stage preparations, Ray's arrival at the Arena, and the unavoidable fragments of Georgia On My Mind and What'd I Say.

*On the 21st France 2 had an item on Charles' concert in Nîmes: "[...] installation of the stage before Ray Charles's jazz concert, [close-up] technicians, [pan shot] infrastructures [...], [close-up] Ray Charles, the installation, the musicians; Ray Charles' poster in the streets, on stage, applauded jazz man". Ina, ID CAB85000326 (mother tape CAB04000282).

26 August 2011

Ray & B.B.'s Superband Tour (1990)

Ray and BB at press conference in New York, on or around 1 October 1990 (photo from: Jet magazine, 3 December 1990).
In July 1990 a press release was published to announce that the "Superband tour" of that year would be headlined by B.B. King and Ray Charles. The official title of the series was "Parliament American Blue Concerts", but the format was also called for what it was: the Philip Morris tour - the fifth (or sixth) edition of an international series of blues and jazz concert tours, that were heavily sponsored by the cigarette manufacturer.
The tentative schedule published that day entailed "20-plus concerts in U.S., Taiwan, Philippines, Korea, Japan, Australia, Germany, Holland, France and Turkey". Charles was quoted for saying, "I'm looking forward to a wonderful tour with my man B.B. and all those fine cats in the Superband, Gene Harris, Ray Brown, Sweets Edison and the rest."
In early September a second press release was send out confirming the tour, specifying that the first concert of the tour would be in Taiwan, on 29 September.
This Taiwan concert probably didn't go through, or it was rescheduled, because the band rehearsals for the tour, at the Carol Studios in New York, must have taken place on or around October 1, 1990*.

Rehearsals in New York

A friendly spirit recently send me a unique 67 minute tape with raw, hardly edited, video footage of Ray's rehearsals with the Philip Morris Superband. The entourage was a bit stranger than can be seen on the photos: the studio was flocked with cigar smoking spectators (probably a bunch of Philip Morris executives, some VIPs invited by the sponsors, and some press). On the same day Philip Morris also organized a formal press conference with the two stars, and afterwards distributed a press kit.

The 67 minutes are a fascinating documentary on how Ray drilled musicians. With the help of Al Jackson (at the time the Ray Charles Orchestra's band leader - there's hardly a trace of Superband conductor Gene Harris in the whole video) Ray ran the band through the most problematic sequences of his songs. Almost all his directions are geared towards getting "time" and "rhythm" right.
The Genius obviously wasn't all that happy "with all those fine cats in the Superband". And looking at these cats, these feelings must have been fully reciprocal. Sweets Edison was heard muttering, "I need this gig like I need aids".
It may be hard to believe, but Ray had the biggest possible difficulties with getting veterans Ray Brown (bass) and Harold Jones (drums) in the right grooves. The most comical scene is where Ray begs, moans, shouts, wriggles and jumps to get the right "booms" and "bangs" from Harold Jones into What'd I Say.
I don't have a clue about the provenance of the tape. My best guess is that the recording was initiated by the sponsors.

Regrettably, this documentary doesn't have anything of B.B.'s visit to the rehearsal studio.

The line-up of the Superband was: James Morrison, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Joe Mosello, Glenn Drewes -  trumpets; Urbie Green, George Bohanon, Robin Eubanks - trombones; Paul Faulise - bass trombone; Jerry Dodgion, Jeff Clayton - alto saxophone; Ralph Moore, Plas Johnson - tenor saxophones; Gary Smulyan -  baritone sax; Gene Harris - piano and band leader; Kenny Burrell - guitar; Ray Brown - acoustic double bass; Harold Jones - drums; Ray Charles - vocal, keyboards; B.B. King - vocal, guitar.
B.B. witnessing Ray's rehearsals with the band.

Documented concerts
I've found various, sometimes contradictory, sources documenting the following Parliament American Blue concerts. In the list below I'm following the details of the band's 'official' tour schedule.
At the Grand Rex, in Paris.
  • 26 September 1990: plane New York - Tokyo.
  • 27 September 1990: plane Tokyo - Taipei.
  • 28 September 1990: Taipei; rehearsals and press conference.
  • 29 September 1990: concert Taipei.
  • 30 September 1990: concert, master class Taipei.
  • 1 October 1990: Taipei, day off.
  • 2 October 1990: plane Taipei - Manilla; press conference, concert, master class.
  • 3 October 1990: concert Manilla.
  • 4 October 1990: master class Manilla.
  • 5 October 1990: plane Manilla - Seoul.
  • 6 October 1990: concert Seoul.
  • 7 October 1990: concert, master class Seoul.
  • 8 October 1990: plane Seoul - Osaka.
  • 9 October 1990: concert  Koseinenkin Kaikan, Osaka.
  • ?9 October 1990: Kokusai Kaikan, Kobe?
  • 10 October 1990: Koseinenkin Kaikan, Osaka. 
  • 11 October 1990: press conference, concert Tokyo.
  • 12 October 1990: Yoyogi, Tokyo (video bootleg).
  • 13 October 1990: plane Tokyo - Perth.
  • 14 October 1990: press conference, concert at Concert Hall, Perth.
  • 15 October 1990: travel Perth - Gold Coast.
  • 16 October 1990: concert Gold Coast, travel to Brisbane.
  • 17 October 1990: day off in Brisbane.
  • 18 October 1990: travel Brisbane - Sydney.
  • 19 October 1990: concert Sydney (recording of band-only album World Tour 1990)  .
  • 20 October 1990: travel Sydney - Melbourne.
  • 21 October 1990: Concert Hall, Melbourne.
  • 22 October 1990: plane Melbourne - Istanbul.
  • 23 October 1990: day off in Istanbul.
  • 24 October 1990: concert, press conference Istanbul.
  • 25 October 1990: concert Istanbul.
  • 26 October 1990: travel Istanbul - Ankara.
  • 27 October 1990: concert Ankara.
  • 28 October 1990: plane Ankara - Dresden.
  • 29 October 1990: "hotel show" Dresden.
  • 30 October 1990: concert Dresden (audio bootleg - see comment and this post).  
  • 31 October 1990: travel Dresden -Duseldorf.
  • 1 - 2 November 1990: days off in Duseldorf.
  • 3 November 1990: travel Duseldorf - Maastricht; concert at Mecc, Maastricht.
  • 4 November 1990: travel Maastricht - Annecy; concert Annecy.
  • 5 November 1990: concert at Grand Rex, Paris. 
  • 6 November 1990: concert at Teatro Olimpico in Rome (audio bootleg).
  • 7 November 1990: concert in Bologna.
  • 8 November 1990: concert at Palatrussardi, Milan.
  • 9 November 1990: plane Italy - New York.
  • 10 November 1990: concert at Apollo Theatre, New York (B.B.'s part released on DVD and Grammy-winning CD).
    Flying to Japan, with Gene Harris.
    Tokyo concert
    From the troupe's tour schedule.
    On 12 October 1990 the last concert in the Japanese leg of Ray Charles' and B.B. King's Parliament American Blue/Superband tour, in Tokyo, was taped.
    I've watched a video of the concert. Interestingly, it starts with a very brief documentary sequence from the rehearsals in New York, this time with B.B.
    1. Love Comes To Town (B.B. King)
    2. Ain't Nobody's Business (B.B. King)
    3. The Thrill Is Gone (B.B. King)
    4. Let The Good Times Roll (Ray Charles)
    5. Busted (Ray Charles)
    6. Georgia On My Mind (Ray Charles)
    7. Ellie My Love (Ray Charles)
    8. I Can't Stop Loving You (Ray Charles)
    9. What'd I Say (Ray Charles)
    10. Bye Bye (Ray Charles and B.B. King)
    Love Comes To Town (B.B.):

    Ain't Nobody's Business (B.B.):

    The Thrill Is Gone (B.B.):

    Ellie, My Love (RC):

    I Can't Stop Loving You (RC):
    What'd I Say (RC):

    Bye Bye (RC & B.B.):

    According to the submission text at Youtube, this concert's finale was also taped in Japan:

    Japanese version of concert souvenir brochure.

    Italy concerts
    The gig at the Teatro Olimpico in Rome was bootlegged, and that bootleg was erroneously attributed with the date of 16 November 1990. I've found another copy of the same sound file, with some ambiguous notes about this concert being recorded at Palatrussardi in Milano, on 8 November 1990. The sound quality is mediocre.
    Setlist (with obvious corrections) of the Milan concert:
    1. Intro
    2. Let The Good Times Roll  
    3. Busted  
    4. Georgia On My Mind 
    5. I'm Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town 
    6. Just For A Thrill 
    7. Teardrops From My Eyes  
    8. Ellie, My Love 
    9. Feel So Bad 
    10. I Can't Stop Loving You  
    11. What'd I Say 
    12. Blues Jam (It's Time For Me To Close The Show / I Get The Blues) (with B.B. King) 
    13. Outro
    The cover art of an obviously complete bootleg from the concert in Rome, changes the story and the setlist once more:

    My interpretation - for the time being - is that the setlist quoted above is indeed from the concert in Milan, and that the Rome concert's setlist was as quoted in this cover art. I'll type it out (with obvious corrections and additions), to make it searchable:
    1. Air Mail Special (Superband)
    2. Centerpiece (Superband)
    3. Battle Royal (Superband)
    4. Intro
    5. Let The Good Times Roll
    6. Busted
    7. Georgia On My Mind
    8. Mississippi Mud
    9. Just For A Thrill
    10. Teardrops From My Eyes
    11. Ellie, My Love
    12. Feel So Bad
    13. You've Got My Number
    14. I'm Gonna Move [To The Outskirts Of Town? BS]
    15. I Can't Stop Loving You
    16. What'd I Say
    17. The Blues Ain't Nothing (with B.B. King)
    18. Flip Flop And Fly (with B.B. King)
    19. Outro
    In this post I've described yet another - televized - concert from the tour, taped somewhere in Italy (Bologna?).

    Melbourne concert
    Australian ABC apparantly has recorded and broadcast the concert in Melbourne (see comments). Who knows more? A (this?) recording is possibly available on Sugarmegs (see comments).

    New York concert
    A review in The New York Times of the Superband concert at the Apollo in New York on November 10 describes the format of the show:
    "The high point of [the] show [...], featuring B. B. King and Ray Charles, came at a predictable point: Mr. Charles crept through a set of his standards, whispering and moaning and caressing the words, imbuing them with a sense of loss and longing that had the hall stone quiet.
    [...] Mr. Charles used a whole raft of devices to draw the audience into a world of his own making. Backed by the Philip Morris Superband, Mr. Charles used stop time breaks, setting his voice against silence, or sang a call-and-response duet with the guitarist Kenny Burell. He played an achingly beautiful and slow duet with the bassist Ray Brown, and sang a host of familiar songs, from Georgia on My Mind to What'd I Say. When Mr. King came out to join him for a short, promising final blues, he wrung meaning out of tunes that should have lost their resonance years ago."
    B.B.'s part of the Apollo concert was released as Live At The Apollo, King's first big band album ever.
    Ray at the Apollo.
    Ad for the Apollo concert.
    A full history of the tour, including some funny reminiscences on Ray as a 'band leader', and on the reasons why he didn't participate in the Apollo recordings, can be found in Elegant Soul: The Life And Music Of Gene Harris by Janie Harris and Bob Evancho, p. 160 - 165 (see, except for the plot of the latter story, also here).

    In December 1990, still cashing in on the local hit success of Ellie, My Love, Ray would already return to Tokyo (see this). This time with his own orchestra, looking a lot happier.

    * This information and other details kindly provided by Steve Sigmund and Jeff Kaye.

    23 August 2011

    Ray Charles And Billy Preston In The Mid Sixties

    From Unsung, a documentary about Preston (I think it's from 2011).

    Preston, in an interview about Ray, c. 1991.

    Billy Preston had been Ray Charles' protégé since his teenager years. The taping of Shindig, in 1965, was the first time they worked together professionally. Right after that Preston contributed decisively to the hot blues-gospel sound of the Crying Time album.
    Orchestra & Chelsea Brown, 1967.

    Orchestra, Raelettes, Chelsea, Billy, 1967.
    From 1966 to 1968, before becoming the '5th Beatle', Billy joined the Ray Charles group on a series of tours in the U.S. and abroad (in '69 they took some incidental gigs together). 1967 was the year of The Ray Charles Show, later in the year of the All New Ray Charles Show. It seems as if Charles felt in 1967 that it was necessary to add more production value to his concerts, probably as a response to all soul revues that were travelling the world in that year. In the most extended versions of The Ray Charles Show, everybody filled their own segments: the Orchestra, The Raelettes, dancer Chelsea Brown, and Billy Preston.
    However, the casts differed from tour to tour, and sometimes even from gig to gig. In 1968 everything went back to normal again, with the exception of the Europe tour, in which Billy co-starred. The artwork of the (hand)bills and ads shows how poorly concert organizers were provided with promotional materials - and how independent they were in compiling their own messages. Read this for a contemporary review of Billy's part in the show.
    May 1967: double concert at Carnegie Hall, New York, only co-billing The Raelettes.

    Pages from Australian (August '67) and U.S.('68) tour brochures: announcing different mixes of The Raelettes, Billy Preston, Chelsea Brown, The Ray Charles Orchestra, and - highly intriguing - also "The Band Within A Band - The Original Ray Charles Orchestra" - I don't have a clue what kind of act this was.
    Also in August, Ray gave this concert in the U.S., with a full "revue" line-up, including Raelettes, Billy Preston and dancer Chelsea Brown.

    Poster from a U.S. gig in November, obviously without Preston.

    These two pics come from a 1967 yearbook of the University of Massachusetts; the one below is the first photo I have ever seen of Billy Preston performing during a concert with Ray:

    Looking at how Billy moves in this photo, it could well be that he's performing Agent Double-O-Soul (as we know it from The Ed Sullivan Show (aired on December 3, 1967):

    4 May 1968 at Carnegie Hall, New York.
    7 May 1968: University of North Dakota Field House, Grand Forks.
    17 May 1968: Winston-Salem Memorial Coliseum.
    4 to 9 June 1968: Melodyland, Orange County.
    Sacramento, 1 August 1968.
    4 October 1968: Jahrhunderthalle, Frankfurt.

    5 October 1968: Concertgebouw, Amsterdam.

    8 October 1968: La Salle Pleyel, Paris.
    Here are the unforgettable renditions of Going Down Slow and A Tear Fell, with brother Billy Preston tearing hot tears from his B3 at the October '68 concert in Paris:

    18 October 1968: Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Vancouver.
    24 October 1968: Men’s Gym, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.
    28 October - 4 November 1968: Regal Theatre, Chicago.

    Around 1970 Ray and Billy seriously discussed doing a duet album together, but that plan failed “because of our different contracts”, as Ray told Gavin Petrie (in: Black Music, Hamlyn, 1974).

    Ray, however, in 1970 produced Billy's As I get Older, for Apple Records (!). In 1971 Billy featured on Aretha & Ray's Spirit In The Dark. That same year Ray's Tangerine Records hired Billy to produce a record for the Rhythm Rebellion (with whom he also recorded Simple Song). In 1993 Billy contributed as a session musician to Ray's album My World. In that capacity you can also hear him on God Bless America Again (2002), One Mint Julep with Tito Puente and Ray, and several of the best tracks on Genius Loves Company (2004).

    20 August 2011

    Рей Чарлз Interviewed On Bulgarian TV (1981)

    Yancho Takov interviewed Ray Charles in Every Sunday, aired by BT, the national Bulgarian TV station, in 1981. Ray toured Europe in May and November of that year.

    Who knows more?
     Yancho Takov interviewing Ray Charles. 
    Original caption: "This is a picture of my friend Lucy with Ray Charles on a TV show in Bulgaria. She used to work as a journalist at a TV station and someone caught this snapshot of them. "

    Ray's Atlantic Contract (1952)

    In 2010 Warner Music Group announced the Sight Of Sound project, entailing the description and preservation of the non-vinyl (i.e. mainly photographic, typographic and administrative) contents of "[...] nearly 100,000 boxes from warehouses around the globe, whose accumulated [...] memorabilia track popular music from the Edwardian and Victorian ages to disco and jazz, from Beethoven to Miles Davis". The Atlantic archives are an important part of that huge heritage, and understandably play a central role in the PR activities that Warner has been developing around the project. And a juicy detail from that PR is the X-signature that Ray Charles supposedly used to sign his contract with Atlantic.
    The full trailer of that documentary can be watched here. In the small outtake, above, and in the screen shots below, I've zoomed in on that contract.
    Allen Saunders, mentioned as Ray's agent at Shaw.
    The story about the "X"-signature is nonsense, of course. The cross, as usual in legal document proceedings, just marked the place where the "employee" was supposed to sign. Ray had delegated Allen Saunders (his booking agent at Shaw Artists), acting as his fiduciary, to undersign the contract in his regard, as an "att[orne]y in fact".
    Looking at the readable part of the documentary footage, this document wasn't much more than a reinforcement of the contract that Abramson and Ertegun had bought from Swingtime's Jack Lauderdale (a transaction in which Charles did not have a formal voice). The option for one-sided prolongation was probably new - and was scratched out by the receiving party...
    Eight days later Ray got to 234 West 56th Street for his first Atlantic recording session.