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Ray Charles Live in Concert by Ray Charles

We had to share a table with a stranger but it was ok -- he bought us a few drinks. It was in “The Blue Room” of the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans, circa 1975 and Ray Charles was the headliner. It’s been almost forty years and I can’t remember what we had for dinner or if there was an opening act. I can remember that Ray Charles was still at the top of his game. The Raeletts were there and his stage band performed to perfection as the crossover genius dazzled the crowd with a collection of hits and covers much as he had done in Los Angeles at the Shrine Civic Auditorium on September 20, 1964.It was a time when liner notes listed the name of the master of ceremonies and a time when introductions were expected and enthusiastic. A ten second musical interlude welcomes the arrival of Joe Adams along with a modest round of applause as he approaches the mike, “Ladies and gentlemen, we proudly present, America’s most exciting musical personality, captivating, invigorating sounds -- of the genius -- the genius of RAY CHARLES! -- and his orchestra.” This Concord Records release (April 5, 2011) is actually a re-release of the ABC-Paramount 1965 album of twelve tracks. According to the press release, this CD “brings additional depth and perspective to the 1964 recording with the help of 24-bit remastering, seven previously unreleased tracks and extensive new liner notes that provide additional historical context to what is already considered a pivotal recording in Ray’s overall body of work.”Ray Charles Live in Concert begins with an instrumental, “Swing a Little Taste” and then with almost no pause jumps right into a cover of “One Mint Julep” (another instrumental -- this one arranged by Quincy Jones) that makes it impossible to stand/or sit still. OMJ features a solo (one of several on this CD) by Charles. “I’ve Got a Woman” keeps the crowd involved with a toe tapping rhythm that segues into a crowd pleasing show-stopping cover of “Georgia on My Mind”. Thirteen tracks later, the crowd is pleased with the finale, “What’d I Say”. For this reviewer, the highlight of the album was an extemporaneous six minute cover of “Making Whoopee” -- a defiant response to newspaper reports concerning his private life. His piano playing was never more emotional and his singing never more sensual. He winks to the audience and ends the piece with, “You know what I’ve been doing, don’t cha?” This track was a great lead in to “Busted.”Listeners today will be surprised to learn that the original release never charted higher than #80; although it was such a great money maker, that the studio rewarded Charles with a 1965 Cadillac Eldorado convertible.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Ray Charles
  • CD Title: Ray Charles Live in Concert
  • Genre: Various Jazz Styles
  • Year Released: 2011
  • Record Label: Concord
  • Rating: Five Stars
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