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Ray Charles Orchestra: Ray Charles Orchestra – Zurich 1961 – Swiss Radio Days Vol. 41

What else needs to be said about the late great Ray Charles. His work in rock, pop, gospel, soul, jazz and the blues has won awards that are far too extensive for the limited scope of these pages. And of course he did all this being blind having lost his sight at the age of seven. His was not an easy life and for those that would like to learn more about this exceptional talent should check out the movie Ray, released in 2004, the same year he passed away.

Any time archival material is released from artists of such legendary status, it should be deemed important. Such is the case with Charles' latest offering Ray Charles Orchestra - Zurich 1961.

The previous year (1960) his good friend Quincy Jones, who Ray had played with in the mid-50s gave Charles all of his big band repertoire specifically for the tour. Remember, this was Charles' first ever big band tour of Europe and no doubt wanted to make a good impression. Coming hot off the heels of Charles' now classic release Genius + Soul = Jazz, the time was right to bring his brand of big band jazz to a wider audience. Besides a huge brass section Charles also hired the female vocal group The Raelettes.

The concert begins with a couple of Quincy Jones arrangements; "Happy Faces" and "Along Came Betty" with both featuring huge horn arrangements and loads of energy. The trumpet solo in the latter is outstanding. The Raelettes make their first appearance on the bluesy "My Baby". Charles and Margie Hendricks provide excellent lead vocals on this one. More highlights include the soulful vocals in the gospel tinged big band jazz of "Sticks And Stones", the beautifully poignant "Georgia On My Mind" featuring the flute of David Newman and the upbeat classic "Hit The Road, Jack" with more stellar vocals from Charles and The Raelettes. The dueling saxophones in "The Birth Of A Band" is another high point.

There are seventeen tracks to choose from and the band were firing on all cylinders that night. My only complaint is Charles' piano is sometimes buried in the mix and hard to hear at times especially when the horns are going full bore. Other than that this is a fabulous set of songs from one of the masters of the genre. May he never be forgotten…

Track Listing:
1. Happy Faces (3:26)
2. Along Came Betty (3:31)
3. My Baby (4:25)
4. Sticks And Stones (3:34)
5. Georgia On My Mind (6:20)
6. Blue Stone (7:09)
7. Margie (2:52)
8. Hit The Road, Jack (2:27)
9. The Birth Of A Band (3:53)
10. I Remember Clifford (5:24)
11. Come Rain Or Shine (7:28)
12. Ghana (4:11)
13. I Believe To My Soul (4:03)
14. I've Got News For You (4:26)
15. Misty (7:32)
16. I Wonder (3:50)
17. Ray Minor Ray (4:02)

Added: February 6th 2017
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Artist's Official Site
Hits: 1359
Language: english

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