Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Classic Ray Charles Live Recording Reissued With Unissued Tracks

Concord Records continues with its restoration of the post-Atlantic Records Ray Charles catalog with Live in Concert. The source for this was a September 1964 concert at Los Angeles’ Shrine Civic Auditorium and featured Charles and his band that included backing vocals by the Raeletts, Oliver Beener and Wallace Davenport amongst the trumpets; Julian Priester and James Herbert amongst the trombones; Keg Johnson, David ‘Fathead’ Newman, Bill Pearson, Hank Crawford, and Leroy Cooper on saxophones; Sonny Forriest on guitar; Edgar Willis on bass and Wilbert Hogan on drums. Charles had expanded from his legendary little big band to the full orchestra in 1961 and Quincy Jones had helped with providing arrangements from his big band book.

The performance here (about 70 minutes of music) was the first after a European and Japanese tour and was recorded by Wally Heider who was a pioneer in location recordings of the time. This release includes 7 previously unissued performances that were not included in the original 1964 album release, adding nearly a half hour of unissued performances including renditions of One Mint Julep, Georgia on My Mind, That Lucky Old Sun, In The Evening (When the Sun Goes Down), Busted, Two Ton Tessie, and My Baby (I Love Her, Yes I Do), to go along with such numbers associated with Charles as I Got a Woman, You Don’t Know Me, Hide Nor Hair, Hallelujah, I Love Her So, and What I’d Say.

Of course its a terrific band (Charles’ jazz piano chops are displayed on Swing a Little Taste) with Fathead and Hank Crawford getting solo space, and terrific section work and swing. And its nice to hear Charles at this stage as he was expanding his repertoire, but had not relegated many of his early R&B classics to brief treatment as part of a medley so we get strong renditions of I Got a Woman, Hallelujah, I Love Her So, Don’t Set Me Free, and What’d I Say, along with more recent additions to his repertoire as You Don’t Know Me, Margie, and Georgia On My Mind. And Ray still was front and center with the blues with the terrific In The Evening, and dig Charles’ terrific blues piano at the beginning. Material-wise, the only misstep is Two Ton Tessie, which was likely from some forgettable show, but Charles still puts everything into the performance.

Bill Dahl contributes his usual insights in the accompanying booklet and the sound quality is excellent. Live in Concert is an welcome addition to Ray Charles’ discography. There is some simply terrific music here, capturing “The Genius” at his prime.

My review copy was provided by Concord Records.

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