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

30 January 2012

Ray Charles Live In Paris Symphony Concert (1990)

On February 14, 1990, Ray Charles played a concert with the Orchestre Symphonique d’Ile-de-France (conducted by Serge Gandolfi) at the  Pavillon d’Armenonville, in Paris. Europe-1 took care of a live radio broadcast. From his orchestra's rhythm section Ray also brought Kenny Carr on guitar.
  1. They Can't Take That Away From Me
  2. If You Go Away
  3. It Hurts To Be In Love
  4. Eleanor Rigby
  5. Take These Chains From My Heart
  6. That Lucky Old Sun
  7. All I Ever Need Is You
  8. Yesterday
  9. Lay Around And Love On You (All I Wanna Do Is --)

27 January 2012

Ray Charles In Newport (1993)

Update January 22, 2017: has made the whole concert available. Watch it here.

The setlist was:
01. [Intro band +] Metamorphosis (Ray Charles Orchestra)
02. [Intro RC + Walk-on +] Then We'll Be Home (Sadies Tune)
03. Busted
04. Georgia On My Mind
05. Mississippi Mud
06. How Long Has This Been Going On*
07. Blues For Big Scotia
08. Still Crazy After All These Years
09. Feel So Bad
10. [Intro Raelettes +] Don't Set Me Free
11. I Can't Stop Loving You
12. I Believe To My Soul
13. What'd I Say [truncated]
14. Outro

*David Hoffman on the problem during his solo: ""A flugelhorn malfunction, I remember it well. The tuning slide screw, which is on the lead pipe close to the mouthpiece, somehow came loose (heat maybe?), causing the horn to come into my face. Nothing like that has happened [to me] before or since!" 

I sometimes scan Ebay for raycharlesiana. It's an excellent source for rare photos, and historic news & promotion materials.

As a source for new information on actual Ray Charles album or video releases it's not that good. Worse, the endless historical variation of compilations and (re-)releases most often only contaminates my database. Debunking of some corrupt releases or corrupt descriptions of legit materials (with false or wrong titles and/or production details) in some cases has cost me hours.
Finding a genuine "new" video recording (i.e. a video of which I hadn't found a trace in any other of my sources) of a Ray Charles concert has never happened before. But here it is.

On August 14, 1993, Ray performed at Fort Adams State Park in a program of the Newport Jazz Festival. The other featured artists were Grover Washington Jr., Horace Silver, Joshua Redman, and Michel Camilo.
JVC released a video compilation of parts of the program - with Charles, Redman and Camilo, plus (from the same stage or from another program?) a performance by The Brecker Brothers - under the title JVC Jazz Festival Newport, R.I., and subtitled The 10th Anniversary 1993 - The JVC Jazz Festivals.

This VHS was part of a long running series of purely promotional, yearly JVC-initiated releases with the fixed catchline "JVC presents the best of international jazz festivals". A disclaimer on the backside of the covers stipulated that "Sale of this videocassette is prohibited".
After a quick scan of the Web, I also found editions for 1987, 1991, 1994, and 1997.

Hypothetically, the footage on the 1993 VHS could be originating from other, older concerts, but seeing the authentic-looking stage photos* and the credits on the back of the cover, my conclusion for now is that this video was indeed shot at Newport 1993.

From Ray Charles' concert the following tunes made it to the VHS (incl. obvious corrections):
  1. How Long Has This Been Going On
  2. Then We'll Be Home (Sadies Tune)
  3. Still Crazy After All These Years
  4. Feel So Bad
On the reproduction of the VHS cover a small unreadable text follows the title of tune #1. The correct title of #2 is Then We'll Be Home (Sadies Tune).
The credits specify that the footage was "Recorded by JVC" and "Published by Festival Productions, Inc."

See this insert in New York Magazine of June 14, 1993, for more information on JVC's role in this edition of the Newport Jazz Festival.

* For further research: I found a small b/w photo that, according to its source, is associated with this same concert. On that photo Brother Ray is wearing a different suit jacket...

This concert was probably also broadcast by PBS. It's not clear if the contents of the VHS came from the (complete concert's?) taping by PBS. Trombone player Steve Sigmund remembers that "[...] '93 was the year that our performance was taped for a PBS special in the US. I have only seen a few songs [#2, #3 and #4, BS] floating around YouTube over the years. There was a great clip of Feel So Bad where they unfortunately edited out a great guitar solo by Kenny Carr."
I've watched a copy of what seems to be a separate release of Ray Charles' part in the VHS described above, 20 minutes long, directed by Mustapha Khan, and also branded and promotionally distributed by JVC.
It's titled Ray Charles - Newport Jazz '93 - The 40th year Of The Newport Jazz Festval. It entails all four tunes mentioned above. The style was documentary, with many cross cuts from Ray & the band to audience reactions, and festival sphere shots that are strongly reminiscent to Bert Stern's 1958 film Jazz On A Summers Day.

A rare thing (for footage like this) is that the band members are neatly credited in the end titles (with obvious corrections, BS):
Larry Foyen, David Hoffman, Kenny Scharf, Kurt Weiss - trumpets; Pete Beltran, Mike Guerrier, Armin Marmolejo, Steve Sigmund - trombones; Steve Elliott, Al Jackson (band leader), Al Waters,  Rudy Johnson, Jim Farnsworth - saxophones; Peter Turre - drums; Kenny Carr - guitar; Tom Fowler - bass; Ernest Vantrease - keyboards. The Raelettes: Angela Workman, Trudy Cohran, Michelle King, Elaine Woodard, Estella Yarbrough - backing vocals.

To add to the confusion, the same digital copy also holds (segments of) performances by other stars, at other JVC events: a concert at the Northsea Jazz Festival by the Brecker Brothers,  a performance by Michel Camilo and a song performed by Joe Williams from a show celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Newport Jazz Festival, held in a tent on the lawn of the White House, with Bill Clinton in the audience.

Then We'll Be Home (Sadies Tune):

Feel So Bad (with stupid edit of guitar solo - probably about 15 seconds were taken out; the director also totally missed Ernie Vantrease' organ solo):

Still Crazy After All These Years:

Ray Charles Live In Deauville (1995)

 Photo taken in the
Summer of 1995, in
France; exact location
Today I was able to listen in to (most of) a concert that was entirely new to me, documenting the show on 5 July 1995, at the Swing In music festival in Deauville. The tape I heard was a copy of a radio broadcast; most tunes were just slightly truncated at the beginning, probably because an amateur editor tried to get rid of comments by the radio show's host or reporter.
The broadcast (or its edit) didn't represent the whole concert. I Can't Stop Loving You and What'd I Say are no doubt missing from it. What remained didn't contain any surprises:
  1. Then We'll Be Home (Sadies Tune)
  2. Busted
  3. Georgia On My Mind
  4. Some Enchanted Evening
  5. Just For A Thrill 
  6. If I Could
  7. Stranger In My Own Home Town
  8. A Song For You
  9. Knock On Wood (with The Raelettes)

26 January 2012

An Early Handbill Of A Gig At Elks' Patio In Redwood City, With Lowell Fulson (1951)

Earliest known handbill of a Ray Charles gig, the "sensational blind singing star", with Lowell Fulson at Elks' Patio in Redwood City, CA. Looking at the bit of adhesive tape at the top of the picture, this can't have been bigger than a postcard (and it may have been re-published as such).
Update: the size was 3.5 x 5.5". The item was re-sold through Ebay several times since I first noticed it, the last time for $7,422.73. See this (also for a an unretouched repro).

The Genius Lighting Up His Pipe (1963)

Ray Charles, smoking a pipe in 1963.
Newspapers' photo archives are a relatively new category of - increasingly valuable - online sources for historical research. So far, a limited number of (mainly American) newspapers have created little photo archive webshops, from which they sell quality photo prints (i.e. copies) from their collections. The Chicago Tribune is a very active first mover in this niche market.
One of the most active players in this space is HistoricImages, who frequently buy up archives, and currently are auctioning out small stacks of original newspaper photo prints  over Ebay.
The photo at the left was shot by Denver Post staff photographer Jack Riddle. The verso side has a small clipping glued to it with a snippet of the published article. The caption to it obviously refers to a concert at DU (University of Denver).

21 January 2012

Ray Charles Live In Prague (1981)

On 28 April 1981 Ray Charles played at the Palác Lucerna in Prague. The TV program was directed by A. Nosek. The Czech TV archive has a 64 minute tape (last televized on 20 June 2004). I've also listened to a 61-minute audio copy, which may have been extracted from the TV concert (but it could also be a copy of a radio broadcast). 
The audience in Prague was very eager to let Ray know that they recognized every tune after the first notes of the intro, adding a nice, lively ambiance to the tape.

Musicians: Mitch Manker, Larry Viau, Brian Pearcy, and Johnny Coles - trumpets; John Boice, Dan Marcus, Mayo Tiana, Steve Davis - trombones; Rickey Woodard, Clifford Solomon, Ira Weinstein, Rudy Johnson, Louis Van Taylor - saxes; Ernest Vantrease - keyboards; Tony Matthews - guitar; Matt Morris - bass; Peter Turre - drums.* The Raelettes:  unidentified, Stella Yarbrough, Trudy Cohran, unidentified.

* Tiana and Vantrease not 100% sure (line-up info band by Peter Turre). 

The setlist was:
  1. Intro
  2. Let The Good Times Roll
  3. Georgia On My Mind
  4. You Made Me Love You (I Didn't Want To Do It)
  5. Yesterday
  6. Born To Lose
  7. Then We'll Be Home (Sadies Tune)
  8. She Knows
  9. Rock Steady (with The Raelettes)
  10. Take These Chains From My Heart
  11. I Can't Stop Loving You
  12. I Can See Clearly Now
  13. Crying Time
  14. Lonesome Blue Yodel + I'm Gonna Keep On Singin' + What'd I Say
  15. Outro
The improv leading to a variation on What'd I Say (#14) was very similar to the final of the 1981 Edmonton concert.
Ray Charles and The Raelettes; stills from the Prague concert on April 28, 1981.

19 January 2012

Ray Charles' Christmas Special In Tokyo (1990)

This poster may be from the
Japan (and Hong Kong?) tour
discussed here.
After touring the world - including Japan, in October 1990 - with B.B. King and the Philip Morris Superband, Ray returned to Japan with his own band and The Raelettes only two months later for a series of 11 concerts (including 3 "dinner shows").
One of these dinner shows was labeled as a Christmas concert - a feat that by that time had become an almost yearly tradition for the Ray Charles group.
When I first posted about the six clips embedded below, I guessed that the concert might have entailed a few more tunes, like the never missing I Can't Stop Loving You, and Ray's 'Japanese hit' Ellie, My Love.
These were indeed part of the concert, but after watching the integral TV program, titled Ray Charles In Japan - Christmas Special*, it turns out to have been one of the most extensive Ray Charles shows that was ever televized.

The program no doubt was aired shortly before Christmas. The video didn't have any credits or station logo. The event took place in Takanawa, in a rather sterile hall, with an almost silent audience, sitting at dinner tables. But Ray (radiating energy  throughout the concert, and with a flawless rendition of She Knows), the Orchestra (with a sparkling set of instrumentals, and marvelous solos), and The Raelettes (with a great version of Giving Up by Trudy Cohran) were in great shape that night.

The tracklist** was:
  1. Sister Sadie (Ray Charles Orchestra) (solos by Jeff Kaye - tp; Jeff Alkire - bs)
  2. The Team (Ray Charles Orchestra) (solos by Rudy Johnson - ts; Jeff Kaye - fh; David Rokeach - d) 
  3. Everybody's Blues (Ray Charles Orchestra) (solos Jeff Kaye, Ted Murdock - tp; Ernest Vantrease - kb; Kenny Carr - g; Benoït Grey - b) 
  4. Horns In Minor (Ray Charles Orchestra) (solo by Marc Fields - tb) 
  5. Spain (Ray Charles Orchestra) (solos by Jeff Kaye - tp; Craig Bailey - as) 
  6. Intro
  7. Then We'll Be Home (Sadies Tune)
  8. Busted
  9. Georgia On My Mind
  10. Mississippi Mud
  11. Just For A Thrill 
  12. Teardrops From My Eyes
  13. Ellie, My Love
  14. I Feel So Bad
  15. If You Wouldn't Be My Lady
  16. She Knows
  17. Chain Of Fools (The Raelettes)
  18. Giving Up (ft Trudy Cohran)
  19. Smack Dab In The Middle
  20. I Can't Stop Loving You
  21. Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer 
  22. What'd I Say
  23. Outro (1)
  24. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)
  25. Outro (2)
The show started with 5 instrumentals by the Orchestra. The biggest surprise of this show was in the end, where The Genius sang two Christmas songs (#21 and #24), the only known live recorded versions of these tunes with the Ray Charles Orchestra.
At three instances the footage of the show was interrupted by pre-recorded interview sequences (in which Ray revealed how he always loved celebrating Christmas with his kids, went through his "I'm just a utility man" routine, and shared his also frequently published plans to spend the rest of his life just making more music, and coaching young talent).

Musicians: Chuck Parrish, Jeff Kaye, Ted Murdock, Kenny Rampton - trumpets; Steve Sigmund, Mike  Guerrier, Marc Fields, Wayne Coniglio - trombones; Craig Bailey, Al Jackson, Rudy Johnson, Al Waters, Jeff Alkire - saxophones; David Rokeach - drums; Kenny Carr - guitar; Benoît Grey - bass; Ernest Vantrease - organ. The Raelettes: Angie Workman, Valerie Washington, Estella Yarbrough, Kay Nickerson, Trudy Cohran.

* Many thanks to Hector Tarín. ** Solos attributed by Jeff Helgesen and David Hoffman.

Of one of the earlier concerts during this Japan tour a board mix has survived. I have listened to a duet by Ray and Angie Workman, on Baby It's Cold Outside.

The complete show:

Sister Sadie:

Then We'll Be Home (Sadies Tune):

Georgia On My Mind:

Just For A Thrill:

Mississippi Mud:

Feel So Bad:

What'd I Say + Outro (if loading too slow, go directly to source):

16 January 2012

Ray Charles At Constitution Hall (1982)

Before the concert Ray Charles
was honored by the NBMC
(from Billboard, November 20, 1982).
Yesterday, a reader of this blog* surprised me with a concert video titled Ray Charles At Constitution Hall. The source of his copy dated the concert in "1980", but the program can only be associated with a concert that took place in Washington D.C. on November 1, 1982.
The earliest air date that I've found was in December 1982, the last in November 1987.

The show was directed by Arthur Forrest, and was produced by TBS in cooperation with the National Black Media Coalition (an emancipatory organization that no longer exists). The dominantly African American audience, loudly (and visibly) showing their appreciation for the things taking place on stage, have given this concert recording a unique, interactive flavor.

The tunes that made it to the TV program (I think that, apart from the instrumentals by the Orchestra, also a few songs by Ray were left out of this edit) were:
  1. Busted
  2. Georgia On My Mind
  3. Oh, What A Beautiful Morning
  4. Just Because
  5. You Don't Know Me
  6. Love Is What We Need (ft Estella Yarbrough)
  7. I Can't Stop Loving You
  8. One Hurt Deserves Another (with The Raelettes, ft Trudy Cohran)
  9. Some Enchanted Evening
  10. Title card from the video.
  11. What'd I Say (intro: Gonna Keep On Singin')
The ultra-soulful, super-slow rendition of You Don't Know Me stood out  in this set list, but the absolute climax of the concert was the performance of the tune One Hurt Deserves Another (a minor Raelettes hit from 1966, then making it to #76 on the Billboard Pop Chart and #24 on the R&B Chart).

Musicians: Carmell Jones, Carlos Chavez, Brian Pearcy, Dean Congin - tp; John Boice, Dan Marcus, Mayo Tiana, Steve Davis - tb; Ricky Woodard, Brian Mitchell - as, Clifford Solomon, Rudy Johnson - ts, Leroy Cooper - bs; Ernest Vantrease - kb; Tony Matthews - g; Jeff Takiguchi - el-b; Rick Kirkland - dm. The Raelettes***: Trudy Cohran, Anne Johnson, Janice Mitchell, Elaine Woodard, Estella Yarbrough.

* Many thanks, once again, to Hector Tarín Nieto. **Info kindly provided by Dean Congin. *** Inferred from line-up at the Winter Park concert on September 4, 1982.

15 January 2012

Ray Charles Live In Antibes (1982)

After almost two years of research for this blog, it's becoming increasingly rare to find video footage which is entirely new to me. But last week Hector Tarín Nieto, a young Ray Charles enthusiast from Valencia in Spain,  surprised me with the message that he had found a video with (parts of) the concert at the Antibes Jazz Festival, on July 20, 1982. The track list doesn't contain any big surprises, but the overall quality is good, and this concert's version of Just Because alone made it worthwhile to watch the program.
(Video still).

The title cards make it clear that the taping was directed by veteran Jean-Christophe Averty, and that the program was aired by France 1.
So far I haven't found a trace of the whereabouts of the source materials of this program.* It's not impossible that Averty, as he did in earlier instances, used the contents of the concert for two Ray Charles specials, and that the remainder of the concert has also survived in the INA vaults (four days later this was the setlist of a concert in the UK).
  1. Let The Good Times Roll
  2. Georgia On My Mind
  3. Oh What A Beautiful Morning
  4. Busted
  5. Just Because**
  6. Some Enchanted Evening
* France 1 was privatized in the 1980s, which is probably the reason why the program can't be found in the database of INA, the French public television and radio archive. Also see the comment to this post: it could be that this program was aired on October 26, 1984. ** In the video, in one of the funniest title corruptions ever, the tune is titled "Just A Bounce".

11 January 2012

Ray Charles Live In Lloret De Mar (1990)

Still from the TV program.
On 20 April 1991 TVE2 broadcast a Ray Charles concert held the year before on 20 July, sponsored by the Casino in Lloret de Mar, at the Campo Municipal de Deportes (cf. this). The program was directed by P.P. Vila-San-Juan.
The copy that I saw had many sequences where the sound was slurring, but Brother Ray and the band were in good shape, and the program nicely captured the atmosphere of a typical mediterranean summer night concert during one of Ray's yearly Europe tours.

The show was simulcast over radio by RNE 3; a good copy has survived.
  1. Intro
  2. Riding Thumb
  3. Busted
  4. Georgia On My Mind
  5. Mississippi Mud
  6. Yours
  7. Feel So Bad
  8. If You Wouldn't Be My Lady
  9. She Knows
  10. Don't Set Me Free (ft Estella Yarbrough)
  11. I Can't Stop Loving You
  12. Knock On Wood (ft Trudy Cohran)
  13. I Believe To My Soul
  14. What'd I Say
  15. Outro
Musicians: Chuck Parrish, Jeff Kaye, Jeff Helgesen, Kenny Rampton - trumpets; Steve Sigmund, Mike Guerrier, Marc Fields, Wayne Coniglio - trombones; Al Waters, Rudy Johnson, Al Jackson, Craig Baily, Scott Frillman - saxophones; David Rokeach - drums; Kenny Carr - guitar; Benoît Grey - bass; Ernest Vantrease - organ. The Raelettes: Trudy Cohran, Kay Nickerson, Lalomie Washburn, Angie Workman, Estella Yarbrough.

Update 25 November 2019:

Ray Charles In A Fool For You With The NYC Ballet (1988, 1989)

In 1988 and 1989 Ray Charles starred in A Fool For You, a concert dansant with the New York City Ballet, set to his music.

Martins and Charles.
Article from Esquire, May 1988.
The first time, on 14 and 15 May 1988, the performance was a closing part of the American Music Festival, at the Lincoln New York State Theater. The choreography was designed by Peter Martins. The stars in the original ballet cast were Judith Fugate, Leslie Roy, Heather Watts, Robert La Fosse, Lindsay Fischer, and Jock Soto.
Ray played with his old 'small big band', with Phil Guilbeau and Marcus Belgrave on trumpet, Hank Crawford, David Newman and Leroy Cooper on sax, and with The Raelettes; he possibly also brought the rhythm section of the Ray Charles Orchestra.

The "12" songs were:
  1. Georgia On My Mind
  2. Ain't That Love
  3. Don't You Know
  4. It Should've Been Me 
  5. Hit The Road Jack
  6. Rockhouse
  7. Mess Around
  8. A Fool For You
  9. I've Got A Woman
  10. Drown In My Tears
  11. What'd I Say
  12. Ol' Man River
  13. America The Beautiful
...Right, that's 13, not 12 (I'm quoting the Repertory Index on the NYC Ballet's website). The tunes with the number 1, 12 and 13 were arranged for the New York City Ballet Orchestra, and were supported, live of course, by a marvelous little choir with a big sound. In particular Ol' Man River got a moving rendition, coming very close to the original album version.

Anna Kisselgoff, The New York Times' critic (on 16 May 1988), was quite positive about the whole  performance:
"Ray Charles took the New York City Ballet's American Music Festival by storm Saturday night with a most unusual personal appearance.
This first foray by the popular singer, composer and pianist into the ballet world was greeted by screaming and yelling that threatened to make the walls of the New York State Theater come tumbling down. At last report, though, the house was intact for the repeat performance last night by Mr. Charles, his orchestra and his backup singers, the Raylettes [sic!], in Peter Martins's premiere A Fool for You.
Performing at a piano in front of his eight-man orchestra, with room for the City Ballet's dancers in front, Mr. Charles was very much his relaxed and nonchalant self.
What Mr. Charles has accomplished is to set a tone. And what Mr. Martins has picked up so refreshingly in his choreography and concept is a funkiness that is new to the City Ballet.
[...] A Fool for You, named after No. 8 of the 12 songs performed by Mr. Charles and his group, also featured a small choral ensemble in the pit with the City Ballet orchestra, conducted by Robert Irving. The ballet opened with Georgia On My Mind, and closed with Ol' Man River.
When the ballet's three main couples bounce in to the second song, Ain't That Love their wiggling mix of stylized social dances - part jitterbug and part disco - announces the style and subject. The women wear booties rather than toe shoes, and the classical base of the choreography is felt rather than seen.
If some of A Fool for You looks like timid Broadway choreography, most of it can also be viewed as a distillation of social dances of the 1950's and 1960's, contemporary with Mr. Martins's perspective on American popular music and dance as he was growing up in Denmark. This is not quite his fantasy equivalent of Grease, but it is a nostalgic look at popular imagery experienced second hand.
At its most successful, this approach is brilliantly embodied in a smashingly witty ensemble section for five young soloists, including Mr. Martins's son, Nilas Martins (a dancer in the corps). To Mess Around, the younger Mr. Martins lopes through an abstract solo that refers to the chicken and monkey dances of the 1960's. He is superb, sharply deadpan. Gordon Stevens, in cowboy outfit, thumps an invisible guitar for his stamping country miss, Florence Fitzgerald. Tom Gold, speedy, small and terrific, keeps time in his baseball outfit while Allison Brown flounces around.
This is baseball-card Americana brought vividly to life again in the finale when Mr. Gold streaks in and out around the entire cast. There is an even better, more sophisticated number: It Should've Been Me by Memphis Curtis (Mr. Charles did not compose all the songs). Robert La Fosse gives a star performance in a pratfall solo, finally laid out flat on his back when he gets nowhere with Miss Brown and Miss Fitzgerald. At the same time, the ironic edge of Mr. Charles's singing fits beautifully.
Of the three main couples, Mr. La Fosse and the exuberant, delightful Judith Fugate look most at ease, although Stephanie Saland and Lindsay Fischer do very well in the tender Drown in My Tears. Heather Watts and Jock Soto are touching in the title song. Here Mr. Martins works against the love lyrics by successively having the dancers wistfully and playfully shadow each other.
The five Raylettes have their big number in Hit the Road, Jack. The danger that Mr. Charles and his musicians would overwhelm the dancers or become merely a backdrop was never an issue. The whole was always greater than the parts [...]."
The performance was was aired by Channel 13, on 15 May 1988. A copy of this TV-program is in the New York Public Library, described here.
Another video tape (see comments below for a copy of a video "in wide shot"; this footage was possibly produced with an in-house video system at the Lincoln) , recorded on May 14, and produced for "archival purposes" is also in the collection of the NYPL, described here.

In this reprise, once again staged at the Lincoln Center, from 10 to 12 May 1989, Ray again brought his old brass players Guilbeau, Crawford, Newman and Cooper, but this time Marcus Belgrave (trumpet) was replaced by Jimmy Owens (an old friend of Crawford).
For the ballet, Ray Charles said in an Associated Press story (May 7, 1989), "Choreographer Peter Martins was the cat who picked some of my early recordings. I had to go back and learn the songs the way I did them at that time. They took the records and that's what they learned the steps to. I play some of those songs today but I play them so different. [...] I'm not going to do something to goof them up. [...] They wanted it as close to the same sound as possible. I went out and found the cats. They all have their own things going now. They come in and do this just for me, which I think is sweet."
Charles also brought the current Orchestra's rhythm section (with Jeff Ballard on drums, Kenny Carr on guitar and Darren Solomon on bass). The Raelettes were Anita Brooks, Trudy Cohran, Kathryn Collier, Angie Workman and Estella Yarbrough. The New York City Ballet Orchestra was conducted by Robert Irving.

The 9 p.m. performance on 12 May was taped (directed by Kirk Browning) and then broadcast by PBS on May 14th, 1989, in the Live From Lincoln Center series. I've seen the tape - and it was fantastic. Charles was in top condition, performing all tunes with gusto, as if they were all part of his actual daily repertoire. Understandably, the band only got little room to play around. David Newman got a few 'expected' pre-arranged solo parts, and Leroy Cooper solo'ed on Mess Around.

This second time the New York Times' critic wasn't as enthusiastic about the dancing part: "The work ultimately deteriorated; there just weren't enough ideas to sustain its length. But Mr. De Luz was a steamy knockout in It Should've Been Me, and Ms. Bouder and Ms. Weese radiated a witty sexiness throughout. There's no reason to revive A Fool for You for City Ballet [...]."
The copy shelved in the New York Public Library is described here.

Also read this article on a partial audio of the performance on 11 May 1989.

Later years
The ballet (or parts of it) are still on the New York City Ballet's repertoire. The photo below is from a performance in 2005.
Photo from the 2005 show;
the screen at the left 
shows Ray at the concert in 1988.

More ballet
Ray's music was an inspiration for more choreographers. On 19 November 1978 the  Canadian TV (CBC) aired Music To See, Danny Grossman Dance, performing Higher - music arranged by Jimmy Dale, based on Ray Charles' blues and jazz music, and sung by Elaine Overholt.
On 6 February 1981 France 2 broadcast a program on a Romanian Choreographer, Gigi Caciuleanu, who created a solo ballet on a Ray Charles song ("a negro-spiritual"). Source: Ina, ID CPB81052616. That "negro spiritual" turns out to be Mess Around, and the choreography was from 1970, when it brought Caciuleanu the First Prize at the International Concours of Varna.
On 16 April 1984 France 3 aired a cultural magazine, announcing a ballet performance, where the dancers did a choreography based on Ray Charles' version of Yesterday. Source: Ina, ID RCC02006350.

Ray Charles Live In Antibes 1979 - Now Complete

The contents of Ray Charles' concert on 22 July 1979 in Antibes have so far surfaced in bits and pieces. All footage goes back to four tapes in the the INA archive  (ID numbers CPC79057920, CPC93007107, CPC83052338, CPC90008470), titled Ray Charles N° 1, Ray Charles N° 2, Ray Charles N° 3, and Ray Charles N° 4; each with a duration of 25 to 30 minutes. They aired (probably also in 4 parts) in early November 1979, and again (possibly in the condensed version discussed below) in July 1983, on France 3. The programs were directed by Jean Christophe Averty.

A DVD copy that I watched earlier only contained a series of  'expected' tunes (see below), but INA's description of Ray Charles 3 also entailed a few intriguing titles that weren't part of this disk: "Ray to minor rag [= Ray Minor Ray], Let the good time[s] roll, I can see clearly now, The jealous king [= kind] medley, Letter to Elise [= Für Elise], A medley of his successes, including What I'd say".

Today, a friend of this blog let me watch a copy of the show on DVD that - at last - seems to entail the complete contents of the INA tapes:
  1. Ray Minor Ray (Ray Charles Orchestra) (solos: FS, RJ - ts; TO, CS - tp)
  2. Intro
  3. Let The Good Times Roll
  4. Then We'll Be Home (Sadies Tune)
  5. Georgia On My Mind
  6. Some Enchanted Evening
  7. She Knows
  8. Oh What A Beautiful Morning
  9. For Mamma
  10. Intro Raelettes
  11. I Want Your Love (ft Estella Yarbrough)
  12. I Can't Stop Loving You
  13. I Can See Clearly Now
  14. Knock on Wood (ft. Trudy Cohran)
  15. The Jealous Kind
  16. What'd I Say (intro: medley of Für Elise; I’m Gonna Keep On Singin’; Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours)
  17. Outro
The concert was also taped by French public radio (INA ID PHY13030098). The recording is largely identical to the televized version, but between #4 and #5, for reasons unknown to me, there's some serious booing coming from the audience. Then Ray interrupts his intro to Georgia (#5) with a brutish rant (maybe related to the behavior of the audience, or with musicians missing the tempo).
It's a pity that the Stevie Wonder tune Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours did not get a full treatment - the 40 or so seconds of it as part of the medley (#16) are great.

#1, 2, 4:

The other edit, 42 minutes long, that I saw earlier contained:
  • Intro
  • Let The Good Times Roll
  • Then We'll Be Home (Sadies Tune) 
  • Georgia On My Mind  
  • Some Enchanted Evening 
  • For Mamma 
  • I Want Your Love (with The Raelettes)
  • I Can't Stop Loving You 
  • I Can See Clearly Now 
  • She Knows 
  • Oh, What A Beautiful Morning [tape copy abruptly ends at closing chords of this song]
Musicians: Johnny Coles, Buddy Gordon, Tim Ouimette, Chase Sanborn - trumpets; John Boice, Bob Braun, Gerard Carelli, Dan Marcus - trombones; Clifford Solomon - alto saxophone, band leader; Brian Mitchell - alto saxophone; Rudy Johnson, Fred Smith - tenor saxophones; Jim Sharpe - baritone saxophone; Eugene Ross - guitar; Curtis Ohlson - bass; Peter Turre - drums;  James Polk - organ. The Raelettes: Trudy Cohran, Pat Peterson, Madelyn Quebec, Estella Yarbrough.

The show was also broadcast on radio (INA ID: PHY13030098).

*Information kindly provided by Joël Dufour.

Ray Charles, B.B. King & The Superband Live In Dresden (1990)

On 30 October 1990 the Superband entourage (cf. this post) landed in Dresden. That day's concert at the Kulturpalast was broadcast live by Radio Saxen (and, simultaneously, was put through by Radio Dresden).
A 2-CD bootleg (of mediocre quality) with the complete concert has survived.

The setlist (with a few obvious corrections) was:
  1. Don't Get Around Much Anymore (Superband)
  2. Dear Blues (Superband)
  3. A Child Is Born (Superband)
  4. Lover (Superband)
  5. Love Came To Town (B.B. King)
  6. I've Got A Mind To Give Up Living (B.B. King)
  7. Please Send Me Someone To Love (B.B. King)
  8. Since I Met You Baby (B.B. King)
  9. You Gotta Be Crazy Baby (B.B. King)
  10. Ain't Nobody's Business If I Do (B.B. King)
  11. Sweet Sixteen (B.B. King)
  12. The Thrill Is Gone (B.B. King)
  13. Let's All Get Together (B.B. King)
  14. Airmail Special (Superband)
  15. Centrepiece (Superband)
  16. Battle Royal (Superband)
  17. Let The Good Times Roll (Ray Charles)
  18. Busted  (Ray Charles)
  19. Georgia On My Mind (Ray Charles)
  20. Mississippi Mud (Ray Charles)
  21. Just For A Thrill (Ray Charles)
  22. Teardrops From My Eyes (Ray Charles)
  23. Ellie, My Love (Ray Charles)
  24. I Feel So Bad (Ray Charles)
  25. I Can't Stop Loving You (Ray Charles)
  26. [Blues Jam] (It's Time For Me To Close The Show / Bye Bye) (Ray Charles and B.B. King)
  27. Outro

09 January 2012

Ray Charles Live In Lugano (1986)

The 'cover artwork' that comes
with the audio torrent
has photos of Ray from the 1990s.
The list of song titles has lots of errors.
On 1 July 1986 Ray Charles, his Orchestra and The Raelettes performed at the Estival Jazz Lugano, at the Piazza Della Riforma. The show, a French voice over said, was the first Ray Charles concert that was broadcast live on Swiss television (I assume it was aired by the French language public channel TSR 1). Two versions of this taping for TV have survived, as well as an audio file (originally, possibly produced for a radio broadcast).

Live TV concert
The setlist of the complete concert as it was broadcast live by Swiss television in '86 was*:
  1. Smokin' At Hungry Joe's (The Ray Charles Orchestra; solos Mike Christiansen - tb, Steve Elliott - as, Ernest Vantrease - e-p)
  2. Wave (The Ray Charles Orchestra; solo Clifford Solomon - ts)
  3. Sister Sadie (The Ray Charles Orchestra; solos Al Jackson - bs, Jeff Kaye - tp)
  4. Intro
  5. Then We'll Be Home (Sadies Tune)
  6. Busted
  7. Georgia On My Mind
  8. You Made Me Love You (I Didn't Want To Do It)
  9. I've Got News For You (solos Jeff Pevar - g, Ernest Vantrease - o)
  10. Some Enchanted Evening (solo Rudy Johnson - ts)
  11. She Knows (solo Mo Pleasure - b)
  12. Intro Raelettes
  13. I Want Your Love (with Estella Yarbrough; solo Mo Pleasure - b)
  14. Anyway You Want To (with The Raelettes; solo Jeff Pevar - g)
  15. Don't Change On Me
  16. I Can't Stop Loving You
  17. I Can See Clearly Now (solo Jeff Pevar - g)
  18. I'm Gonna Keep On Singin'
  19. What'd I Say
  20. Outro 1
  21. We Are The World (with The Raelettes)
  22. Outro 2
The instrumental track # 1 (Smokin' At Hungry Joe's) was composed and arranged by Bill Baker; # 2 (Wave) was penned by Antonio Carlos Jobim, and arranged by James Polk.
Also read this post, highlighting a little incident during #18 (a long version of  I'm Gonna Keep On Singin') between Ray and the Swiss audience during the concert.
* Special thanks to J.P. Verger and Peter Turre.

Edit of TV program
Swiss television later produced an edit with a small selection of the concert:
  1. Some Enchanted Evening
  2. She Knows
  3. I Want Your Love 
  4. Then We'll Be Home (Sadies Tune)
  5. Don`t Change On Me
  6. I Can't Stop Loving You
  7. I Can See Clearly Now
  8. What`d I Say
  9. We Are The World
  10. Outro
There is also a audio torrent circulating on the Web, with this selection:
  1. Intro
  2. Then We'll Be Home (Sadies Tune)
  3. Busted
  4. Georgia On My Mind
  5. You Made Me Love You (I Didn't Want To Do It)
  6. I've Got News For You (solo Jeff Pevar - g, Ernest Vantrease - o)
  7. Some Enchanted Evening (solo Rudy Johnson - ts)
  8. She Knows
  9. Intro Raelettes
  10. I Want Your Love (with Estella Yarbrough) (solo Mo Pleasure - b)
  11. Anyway You Want To (with The Raelettes) (solo Jeff Pevar - g)
  12. I Can See Clearly Now (solo Jeff Pevar - g)
  13. I'm Gonna Keep On Singin'
  14. What'd I Say
  15. Outro (1)
  16. We Are The World
  17. Outro (2)
The line-up was highly similar to the one during the concert, less than a week later, at the Black Heritage Festival in Toyohashi, but in Lugano the band also included Ernest Vantrease.
Musicians: Mark Curry, Jim Seeley, Ted Murdock, Jeff Kaye - trumpets; Armin Marmolejo, Mike Christianson, Ken Tussing, Charlie Schofner - trombones; Steve Elliott, Clifford Solomon (bandleader), Ricky Woodard, Rudy Johnson, Al Jackson - saxophones; Paul Kreibich - drums Jeff Pevar - guitar; Mo(rris) Pleasure - bass;  Ernest Vantrease - organ, piano and electric piano. The Raelettes: Sharon Creighton, Estella Yarbrough, Gladys [...], Elaine Woodard, Angela Workman.

For purely documentary reasons, I'm embedding the first two instrumentals below. Please do not share these  elsewhere.

'86 LC Lugano - Smokin' At Hungry Joe's (The Ray Charles Orchestra; solos Mike Christiansen - tb, Steve Elliott - as, Ernest Vantrease - e-p):

'86 LC Lugano - Wave (The Ray Charles Orchestra; regrettably, the sound man turned off Clifford Solomon's microphone during the second part of his tenor sax solo, but his unique sounds return - wait for it!):

'86 LC Lugano - I've Got News For You (solos Jeff Pevar - g, Ernest Vantrease - o):

02 January 2012

Ray Charles NOT Telecast At 5-4 Ballroom (Or Was He?) (1955, 1956)

The California Eagle, Dec. 21, 1955.
On December 21, 1955, The California Eagle ran a page-wide 'advertorial' banner on its entertainment page, announcing: "Ray Charles 'weeking' at 5-4". The stint brought the "Sightless 88'er* Back On B'way" for the weekend (alternatively specified as a "4-Day Stay" and a "three-day stand", probably coming down to Friday 22, Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 December, 1955).**

Historically, this publication is already interesting because it is the first time (that I know of) that Ray is promoted in a newspaper in a big way. But then, in the last paragraph of the same article, the writer suddently adds (it seems to be a last-minute insertion) without regret that "The one-hour television program, direct from the 5-4 Ballroom, has been rescheduled for Wednesday night instead of Sunday," implying that Charles would not be part of that "telecast".
"This makes it easier for more top name guest stars to be available," the editor went on, adding insult to injury.

In a column ("Soundtrack") on the same page, written by 'Chazz' Crawford, it's becoming clear that the title of the program was "Swing Street" or "Swing Street on TV", and that it had been launched just the Sunday before, but also that it had "No sponsors as yet".

Then, two weeks later, on January 5, 1956, The California Eagle ran a second, similar, promotion, announcing that "Ray Charles returns to 5-4" for a 3-day stay starting on Friday, January 6.
"This is his second request performances in recent weeks", a small article explained, under the header "Crowd Pleased With Top Work Of Grand Band".

(Ray's 8-man small big band or 'combo' was just half a year old. In December the single I've Got A Woman had been released. The success of this song may have added to the appreciation of the LA audience).

If the TV show from the 5-4, despite the lack of sponsors, survived through the new year, and if it had returned to the Sunday, this could mean that Ray still made it to a telecast...

Reading this source, I think the TV show indeed survived. It was broadcast by KCOP-TV (Channel 13). Confusing is that in fact there was a Sunday evening format titled Swing Street, which was emceed by James Edwards, and (for a while, often, always?) co-hosted by Dinah Washington. But... there was also a format scheduled in the middle of the week, under the adequate title Spotlight Wednesday, "telecast from the bandstand and floor of the 5-4 Ballrooom", making it "the nation's first all-Negro produced and starring video program", which was also emceed by James Edwards.
Does anybody know more about the history of these programs?

The 5-4 Ballroom was named after its address at 54th and Broadway, in Los Angeles, in Watts. With a capacity of well over 1,000 people (contemporary stage photo here), for a few decades (from the '40s to the '60s) it was considered to be the LA equivalent of the Apollo Theatre (sketchy story here).
Intriguingly, we also know of a few photos of Ray Charles at the 5-4 Ballroom, from 1954, where he seems to be present as a private guest, just having a good time with his then-girlfriend Madlyn Glover, two of her brothers, and Little Willy John (more photos here). Were these photos shot during an intermission or after one of his shows?

* 88-er, or 88'er = piano player. ** Ray had been booked twice before at the 5-4 Ballroom on March 6 (maybe from 5 to 7 March), 1954 with Joe Liggins and his Honey Drippers, and from August 13 to 15, 1954, opening for Dinah Washington.