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Ray Charles – Genius + Soul = Jazz

37 jazzy bluesy swingin’ gorgeous tunes spread over two soul-edifying discs.

Here are the details:

Genius + Soul = Jazz is a 1961 album by Ray Charles featuring big band arrangements by Quincy Jones and Ralph Burns. Charles is accompanied by two groups drawn from members of The Count Basie Band and from the ranks of top New York session players. It was recorded at the Rudy Van Gelder Studio in two sessions on December 26 and 27, 1960 and originally released on the Impulse! label as Impulse! A–2.

The album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2011. It was re-issued in the UK, first in 1989 on the Castle Communications “Essential Records” label, and by Rhino Records in 1997 on a single CD together with Charles’ 1970 My Kind of Jazz. In 2010, Concord Records released a deluxe edition comprising digitally remastered versions of Genius + Soul = Jazz, My Kind of Jazz, Jazz Number II, and My Kind of Jazz Part 3.

So this set I have here (the 2010 edition) contains four albums (plus a bonus track) in one gorgeous collection! Hot damn!

And you know what I’m gonna say about the music, too, right? This is my wheelhouse! I love this stuff! I grew up on big band at my Nana’s house, and played it myself in the school bands. Just everything about it. Yes.

In Sum:

It’s all freakin’ gorgeous.

Willie Nelson, Wynton Marsalis & Norah Jones – Here We Go Again: Celebrating The Genius Of Ray Charles

I cannot thank BMV enough for this one!!

The 5th Annual Toronto Expedition Series, Part 6 (CD)

Recorded during two shows at the Rose Theater (NYC, 2009-02-9/10), this is a jazz-soaked, fantastic romp through Ray Charles’ incredible songs. The orchestra nails it completely, soloing beautifully all over the place.

Wynton’s huge tone is technical and precise, where Willie is close yet still laidback, and Norah’s soulful… it shouldn’t all work together but it does. They’ve really captured Ray’s spirit of musical inclusivity.

You can absolutely hear how much fun they’re having. I truly loved this stylish disc!

 

Ray Charles – The Country Side Of Ray Charles

Snagging this disc from a bin, just because it was Ray Charles (love him!) and because it has 24 tracks on it, I thought I (probably) knew what I was getting by the title of the disc.

NB: It was originally titled Modern Sounds In Country Music (Vol. 1 & 2)

Plug it in, and… right off the top, Bye Bye Love is pure big band Ray Charles swing. Haha whut? Where’s the country? Alright, no problem, stick with it…

Hm. Not sure I would call a lot of this country music, by the old country definition of it. This is more like Ray Charles and his big band (and choral singers – remember I reviewed that Ray Charles Singers LP?) doing run-throughs of some old classics. It’s a bit disorienting, loving the delicious swing (either snappy quick or gentle and slow) of these tunes and hearing lyrics for Born To Lose, You Win Again, Hey Good Lookin’, and Your Cheating Heart.

Once I got past that, though, I realized these are just wonderful versions of some old classics, done as only the master Ray Charles could do them. There are many times where the band devolves into schmalzy 40s strings and choir a la Lawrence Welk or something, but Brother Ray is always there to galvanize your attention on him.

Probably my favourite track here is the Motown blues jump swing of You Are My Sunshine. Hot damn! But country? Haha no.

The tunes were country, originally. But in Ray Charles’ hands, they become orchestral swing blues on a country chassis. And it’s all about Ray.

Tracks:

Bye Bye Love / You Don’t Know Me / Half As Much / I Love You So Much It Hurts / Just A Little Lovin’ / Born To Lose / Worried Mind / It Makes No Difference Now / You Win Again / Careless Love / I Can’t Stop Loving You / Hey, Good Lookin’ / You Are My Sunshine / No Letter Today / Someday / Don’t tell Me Your Troubles / Midnight / Oh, Lonesome Me / Take These Chains From My Heart / Your Cheating Heart / I’ll Never Stand in Your Way / Making Believe / Teardrops In My Heart / Hang Your Head In Shame

Ray Charles – Genius Loves Company

A thrift shop find (I know!), this one is surely a gimme.

Do I even need to write a review about it?

Did I even need to play it before knowing it was awesome?

I’ll just leave this list here, by way of my answer:

 

Here We Go Again (w. Norah Jones)
Sweet Potato Pie (w. James Taylor)
You Don’t Know Me (w. Diana Krall)
Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word (w. Elton John)
Fever (w. Natalie Cole)
Do I Ever Cross Your Mind? (w. Bonnie Raitt)
It Was A Very Good Year (w. Willie Nelson)
Hey Girl (w. Michael McDonald)
Sinner’s Prayer (w. B.B. King)
Heaven Help Us All (w. Gladys Knight)
Over The Rainbow (w. Johnny Mathis)
Crazy Love (w. Van Morrison)

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