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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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DVD REVIEW

 

RAY CHARLES

Live in France 1961

Eagle Vision EREDV 904

 

 


July 18
1. Opening
2. The Story
3. Doodlin'
4. One Mint Julep
5. Let the Good Times Roll
6. Georgia on my Mind
7. Sticks And Stones
8. Hallelujah, I Love Her So
9. What'd I Say
July 22
10. Hornful Soul
11. Let the Good Times Roll
12. Georgia on my Mind
13. My Bonnie
14. With You on my Mind
15. Ruby
16. Tell the Truth
17. I Wonder
18. Sticks and Stones
19. I Believe to my Soul
20. What'd I Say
July 19
21. The Story
22. Sticks and Stones
23. Yes Indeed
24. I Believe to my Soul
25. What'd I Say
July 21
26. I Wonder

Ray Charles - Piano, vocals
Phillip Guilbeau, John Hunt - Trumpets
Hank Crawford - Alto sax
David "Fathead" Newman - Tenor sax, flute
Leroy Cooper - Baritone sax
Edgar Willis - Bass
Bruno Carr - Drums
The Raeletts: Gwen Berry, Margie Hendrix, Pat Lyles, Darlene McCrea - Vocals

 

Ray Charles was a polymath in music. His genius embraced jazz, gospel, blues, soul, country music and almost any other brand of popular music you can think of. This is illustrated by this DVD, which contains newly-discovered film footage of Ray appearing in concerts at Antibes in July 1961. He was already a star, with hits like Georgia on my Mind and What'd I Say under his belt. But this was his first appearance in Europe and the enthusiastic reception he got ensured it would not be his last. The film was taken at four separate concerts, each containing some thrilling music.

There is plenty here to confirm Ray's prodigious stamina and creativity. He leads a swinging group which includes altoist Hank Crawford and tenorist David "Fathead" Newman who, along with trumpeter Phillip Guilbeau, take most of the solos. The vocal foursome the Raelettes take part for several items. The film is in black-and-white but the camerawork is well-judged and the sound quality is surprisingly clear and well-balanced.

The 18 July concert opens with a swinging instrumental The Story (composed by James Moody). Then there is the slow blues Doodlin', complete with its increasingly comic lead-in from the baritone sax. Charles forcefully stresses the accents. Let the Good Times Roll is Ray's first vocal of the evening, blending gospel with rhythm-and-blues and jazz. A heartfelt Georgia on my Mind - with an expansive flute obbligato from David Newman - is followed by Sticks and Stones, which includes a dextrous piano solo from Ray. Hallelujah and What'd I Say complete Ray's reruns of his hits. I don't know if it was part of an economy drive, but the musicians were using chairs as music stands!

The tracks recorded on 22 July are equally stimulating. What'd I Say and Sticks and Stones get two more outings and the reprise of Georgia is just as moving as before. New Items include My Bonnie (Lies Over the Ocean), performed as a gutsy gospel song with a bluesy tenor solo from Newman. Accompanied only by the rhythm section, Ray turns the film theme Ruby into a deeply-felt blues. Tell the Truth is in rhythm-and-blues mode, with the Raeletts singing their hearts out, plus a growling tenor sax solo. I Wonder is a slow number in the same vein.

The six "bonus tracks" recorded on July 19 and 21 repeat five of the same songs. The new one is Yes Indeed, a hearty rhythm-and-blues number with call-and-response between Ray and the Raeletts and a short solo from David Newman.

Ray has been called a genius and he justifies this title not only through his native talent but also because he brings together in himself numerous styles of music, finding similarities between each genre and showing how they are fundamentally connected.

Tony Augarde

www.augardebooks.co.uk



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