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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



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RAY CHARLES & THE COUNT BASIE ORCHESTRA

Ray Sings, Basie Swings

Concord 0888072300262

 

 

 
1. Oh, What A Beautiful Morning
2. Let The Good Times Roll
3. How Long Has This Been Going On?
4. Every Saturday Night
5. Busted
6. Crying Time
7. I Can't Stop Loving You
8. Come Live With Me
9. Feel So Bad
10 The Long And Winding Road
11. Look What They've Done To My Song
12. Georgia On My Mind
Ray Charles – Piano, vocals
Scotty Barnhart, Mike Williams – Trumpets
Marshall McDonald – Alto sax, flute
Grant Langford – Alto sax
Doug Lawrence, Doug Miller – Tenor saxes
John Williams – Baritone sax
Clarence Banks - Trombone
Tony Suggs – Piano
Will Matthews – Guitar
James Leary – Bass
Butch Miles – Drums
Joey DeFrancesco – B-3 organ
Patti Austin & the Raelettes – Backing vocals

This album is like an ancient vase, assembled from broken remains by an archaeologist. John Burk came across some tapes labelled "Ray Charles and Count Basie" which turned out to be recordings of separate sets at concerts organised by Norman Granz in the mid-1970s. Engineers took the vocals from the Ray Charles recordings and provided them with new accompaniments played by the Count Basie Band, now directed by Bill Hughes, with backing vocals from some replica Raelettes assembled by singer Patti Austin. The result sounds convincingly like a concert where Ray was accompanied by the Basie Band, and it conveys the sort of punch and passion you would expect from such a pairing.

It seems very appropriate for Ray Charles to sing with the Basie band, following the fine tradition of that band accompanying such blues shouters as Jimmy Rushing and Joe Williams. In fact, as one of the originators of "soul", Ray Charles encompasses not only the blues but also jazz, gospel and popular music. The opening Oh, What a Beautiful Morning illustrates all these facets, with Ray’s unique voice soaring in the lyrical introduction before moving into an infectiously shuffling rhythm. Joey DeFrancesco adds a groovy organ solo to Let the Good Times Roll, which certainly creates a good feeling, accentuated by Scotty Barnhart’s trumpet punctuations. The Gershwins’ How Long Has This Been Going On may seem uncharacteristic material for Ray to sing, but he handles it superbly, his voice conveying the song’s full emotion, backed by the swooping saxophones.

Every Saturday Might approaches jazz-rock, with a soulfully funky feeling from the vocalizing of Ray and the Raelettes. Ray’s sixties’ hits such as Busted, Crying Time and I Can’t Stop Loving You are all performed with freshness and conviction. But the high spot of the album is probably The Long and Winding Road, a classic Beatles song which Ray delivers with intense feeling. There wasn’t a dry eye in this house. The album closes with Ray’s first big British hit, Georgia on my Mind, which he must have performed a thousand times but which still comes across with heartfelt emotion. After all, Georgia was where Ray was born in 1930.

Heaven knows how the engineers achieved the miracle of isolating Ray’s voice before adding the orchestral backings but it works seamlessly. The painstaking assemblage of the recordings has not been carried through to the personnel listings, which are incomplete. I have reconstituted them as far as I can. But these are minor shortcomings for a great album by one of the greatest artists of the 20th century.


Tony Augarde

 



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