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

27 May 2017

Ray Charles Ft In Le Spectacle Noir


Le Spectacle Noir was a 45 minute ORTF documentary directed by Armand Ridel, first broadcast by RTF 1 on August 30, 1972. It presented an impressionistic, kaleidoscopic mix of existing films and documentaries with contemporary street scenes, concert footage and interviews with jazz and r&b stars.
With a.o. Ray Charles (contributing a good, but truncated, version of I've Got A Woman, from a concert in circa 1972), Count Basie, Tina Turner, Louis Armstrong, Cecil Taylor, Miriam Makeba, and Jimmy Hendrix (from the Woodstock movie).
The film has been archived by INA, ID: CPF86653022.

18 May 2017

The Schiffman Index Cards On Ray Charles At The Apollo, 1957 - 1971


The Schiffmans, owners of the Apollo Theater, kept concise and hugely interesting notes on all acts he booked and re-booked. Each index card tracked the acts through the years, listing the dates of the opening nights (many gigs were for one week), the amounts paid out, and - above all - the Schiffman family's brutally honest comments on the act's quality and cash box success.
Up till now the notes were only known from the Frank Schiffman Apollo Theatre Collection in the Archives Center of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, but recently a few additional cards on the Apollo's top artists (Ray Charles, but e.g. also James Brown and Aretha Franklin) have popped up on Ebay.

04 May 2017

How To Raycharlesify A Tune

Ray Charles' studio version from 1964 of A Tear Fell (single: ABC-45-10571; album: ABCS-480-4), as arranged by Sid Feller, was nice enough.
But only in this live version at the Pleyel Room in Paris, in a concert on October 8, 1968, the Genius could share what he really heard in the song, showing how beautiful it really was.
The original tune was written in 1955 by Dorian Burton and Eugene Randolph. Two of their grandchildren recently met in the comments section on YouTube:



03 May 2017

We're Gonna Make It (The Raelettes)

Until now* I've confused the description of this Raelettes live-song, which was on the band's repertoire between 1978 and 1984, with the We're Gonna Make It-track from the Renaissance album.

This actual tune was written by Billy Preston. Rene Hall penned the arrangement for the band.

Live:
'78 LC Antibes
'84 LC Viareggio
'84 LC Warsaw - Released**
'86 LC Toyohashi

*Thank you, Steve Sigmund. **Search for Ray, then page-search for Warsaw, then go to ~39:20.

11 April 2017

Ray Charles Authoring Jack Sheldon Album's Cover Notes (1961)

Ray Charles' notes to Jack Sheldon's album.
In 1961 Ray Charles was at the pinnacle of his fame. It was also the year that he was first recognized and honored with a tribute album, by the soulful trumpeteer Jack Sheldon: A Jazz Profile Of Ray Charles (released by Frank Sinatra's Reprise Records, R-2004, July 1961).
Sheldon recorded the 12 tracks over two days in May (spanning a selection from five Ray Charles albums issued between 1957 and 1961) with his trio: Marty Paich on piano and organ, Joe Mondragon on bass and John Markham on drums. The elpee came out in July 1961, with a testimonial by Ray Charles, praising Sheldon, and adding some humble remarks regarding himself.

I assume that Paich - who was Ray's favorite arranger in his early ABC-Paramount years - was the linking pin between Charles and Sheldon. Highly remarkable was his organ playing, sounding almost exactly as awkward as Ray's Hammond wizardry on Genius + Soul = Jazz  (Impulse 2, February 1961), "[...] making it seem as if the instrument is being operated by a bellows", as Marc Meyers remarked in this excellent Jazz Wax article about this album.

Meyers made 3 of the tunes available online (I wish someone would send me a copy of the complete album;-): When Your Lover Has GoneMoonlight in Vermont, and One Mint Julep.

12 February 2017

Ray Charles On The David Frost Show

A while ago Reelin' In The Years, a great resource for licensed footage of blues and jazz music, submitted this clip of Ray Charles, singing America The Beautiful. It doesn't match any entry in their online database, but it turns out to be from the the final episode (#209) of the 4-season series of the David Frost Show, aired on July 7, 1972. The other guests were senator Edward Kennedy (who discussed the book To Ask Why Not: Robert Kennedy) and singer Carly Simon.



Ray performed the tune on David's special request (from 12"00'):

Ray Charles Interviewed By Ralph Emery

Country music disc jockey and television host Ralph Emery interviewed Brother Ray sometime in the early 1980s. Their discussion on the Maxwell House commercial seems to place it in 1981 or 1982. I guess it comes from Emery's weekly, syndicated radio show, distributed by Show Biz Inc. Each week Emery would profile a guest star, while playing the hottest country hits.

22 January 2017

Newport 1993 Now Complete

On August 14, 1993, Ray performed at the Fort Adams State Park in a program of the Newport Jazz Festival. Until today I had only seen 4 of the tunes, but now Concert Vault has brought the complete concert online. See this for more context.

Finale:



15 January 2017

Ray Charles' 1979 Austin City Limits Concert Released (Audio Only)


Complete digital audio bootlegs of Ray Charles' Austin City Limits TV concert, originally taped on October 23, 1979, have been circulating on the web since the late 1990s. For free, in a very decent quality. It's still easily and freely available through torrent websites.
Nevertheless, Hi Hat, an obscure British-Cypriot record label, found a reason to issue the concert on CD (announced as a "remastered, unofficial release"). For an indiscernible reason, the majestic version of Oh, What A Beautiful Morning was mutilated.* The least essential information I aggregated in this article and on this page was used for the liner notes.**

Ray Charles - Live Austin Texas '79. Hi Hat HHCD3059, July 22, 2016. In Europe also streamed on Deezer.
A second release, its text-less cover illustrated by a moron, also from last year is: Ray Charles - Live At Klru Studios, FM Broadcast, Austin Tx, 23rd October 1979 (Remastered). Groove Dust, November 15, 2016.

*According to Joël Dufour in Soul Bag #225. **Special thanks to André Monnot for sharing a copy of the CD booklet.

14 January 2017

Ray Charles' Zurich 1961 Concert Released

Cover CD booklet.
A while ago my inquiries at the Swiss Radio archives resulted in the discovery of a set of 2 edited tapes with parts of a Jazzkonzert by the Ray Charles Big Band at the Kongresshaus in Zürich, on October 18, 1961.
This concert is now part of an abundant "Swiss Radio Days Jazz" CD-series with post-WWII radio concerts, issued by TCB, "the Montreux Jazz Label", a sub label of Challenge Records.

Any new album with Ray Charles materials is good news (especially when the songs originate from the early 1960s), and this was an excellent concert. But... well, let's say that this one is far from perfect as a CD release because, unfortunately and without due respect, an awful mistake was made, and the liner notes are crap.

From the concert's souvenir
brochure.
Why is the CD-title presenting the Ray Charles Orchestra, where it should be Ray Charles (or Ray Charles, the Ray Charles Orchestra and the Raelettes)?
And WHY in Genius' name was the excellent rendition of My Bonnie omitted (listen to the Youtube file below)?

The notes lack any relevant historical context (but you can go here to compensate that). They include nonsense, for instance a complaint about the quality of the original recording not doing "full justice to [Ray Charles'] piano playing, at times strangely behind in the mix of the time..." - pointing at the instrumentals where Ray, as per usual, simply didn't participate. And they include many factual mistakes (like attributing the arrangement of Come Rain Or Come Shine to Quincy Jones; a similar attribution i.c. Ray Minor Ray is questionable at least).

Ray Charles Orchestra - Zurich 1961. TCB (Swiss Radio Days Jazz Series #41), [2016]. The CD is also streamed by Deezer (probably only in Europe).
For sale through most European music webshops and, as long as the rights owners allow it, also via Amazon USA.

My Bonnie (tenor solo by Don Wilkerson):