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: