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27 February 2012

A Lost Apollo Concert Taping From 1960 (With Clark Terry In The Orchestra)

In 1960 two writers of French jazz magazines came to New York to report about Ray Charles, preparing the ground for his triumphant concerts in Antibes in the summer of 1961 (and both possibly sponsored by Vega, the French distributor of Ray's records?). Franck Ténot published a well known article in the December 1960 issue of Jazz Magazine (titled Lumières Sur Ray Charles, or 'Spotlights On Ray Charles'), with a brief description of a concert he witnessed in New York, and an extensive, expert discography).

Recently I was made aware, by two readers of this blog, of an interesting paragraph in a lesser known article by François Postif (titled In Jazz Time), in the November 1960 issue of Jazz Hot, where he describes how he taped a Ray Charles concert at the Apollo.
While reading that article, I found proof for a second interesting footnote to Ray's "live" career: his first documented live performance with a big band.

The lost tape
Postif wrote a nice, be it highly subjective and not so expert, story on his visit to the Apollo (apart from Georgia, he couldn't name any of the other tunes he reported on).
"And His Big 16-Men Orch."
Postif visited one of the concerts during Ray's second, hugely successful, stint at the Apollo that year, a 2-week heldover from 30 September to 13 October. 'Heldovers' were extremely rare. (The first 1960 engagement had been in April, co-billed with Cannonball Adderley).
The New York Amsterdam News wrote on October 8 that "Apollo Theatre management had to stop Ray Charles from doing extra shows to satisfy his fans crowding the theatre to hear him. They feared he'd wear himself out. He's there an extra week...", and "At the height of his popularity, the Apollo had to cancel the movie several times over the weekend while Ray did extra shows to accommodate the huge crowds." (The Apollo at that time presented up to 5 full shows each day - starting at 11 a.m., until midnight - but in cases like this, they were able to increase the number of scheduled shows to 7 per day).

"What to say about Ray Charles that hasn't already been said," Postif wrote, rhetorically, "he presents himself at his small electric piano [...], and sings his success of the moment, Georgia (On My Mind). It's delirious. I was lucky to have the transistor tape recorder with me, that I brought back from Italy [...] and I am listening again to the tape as I write this article. [Ray] really caresses the melody of Georgia, accompanied on flute by one of the musicians of the orchestra."

Ray Charles expert Joël Dufour has tried to check if the tape still exists, but the sad conclusion of his research was that it must be considered to be definitively lost.

The "Apollo Big Band"
It's well documented that Ray Charles formed his first, so called "temporary", big band in April 1961 with the help of Quincy Jones. This band only went on a 3-week Hal Zeigler tour, with concerts in a.o. St. Louis, Detroit, Cleveland, and Chicago, ending at Carnegie Hall in New York.
But I recently found some reproductions of promotion materials for the October 1960 Apollo program that riddled me because they explicitly announced "His [i.e. Ray's] Big 16-Men Orch[estra]".

Ad in NY Amsterdam News.
Ray's French record distributor Vega
heavily promoted his Antibes concerts in '61.
I think Postif's article gives some keys to solve this riddle. When he describes how he enters the Apollo Theatre, he writes "While I walk into the hall [I hear] a familiar voice singing a song that I know, it's Dee Clark, interpreting Hey Little Girl. [...] It's a big orchestra that accompanies him, sixteen musicians, amongst whom I recognize Clark Terry, who wears a majestic and highly spiritual beard, Henderson Chambers and David 'Fathead' Newman, the excellent sax player of Ray Charles."
A little later, describing Ray's overall performance, he reveals that "The versions he sings are much longer than on his records, but the orchestra is so developed (it is the same line-up, so to say, which accompanied The Coasters and Dee Clark, with Clark Terry), that it gives the same impression of perfection that emerges from the records [...]."

These snippets of information seem to imply that Ray for this occasion had formed something like a very-first-proto-temporary big band, bringing in his own sextet (or at least David Newman; plus trombone player Henderson Chambers, who would also be part of the early 1961 big band), and enhancing the line-up with Clark Terry, and maybe with other, more regular Apollo side men - and that this "Big 16-Men Orchestra" also took the role of  an 'Apollo House Band', not only accompanying Ray Charles during his part of the program, but also backing the other class acts, like The Coasters, and Dee Clark. (Such a double role for big bands was not unusual at the Apollo).
My conclusion for now is that there certainly must have been a 16-man band backing Ray, and that it's certainly not improbable that Ray's own sextet was part of that for this occasion (although it's a bit suspect that Postif then didn't name David Fathead Newman as "the flute player" in the rendition of Georgia that he described). Although I doubt if Postif was 'connoisseur' enough to recognize Clark Terry 'behind', as he wrote, 'a majestic beard'... - the more since Terry's name at the time was big enough to be credited in the promotion materials for the show - it's not impossible that Terry took this gig (he had played the Apollo many times before in the 1950s), or even that Quincy helped him to get the assignment from his friend Ray after their (Q's and Terry's) penniless return from their own big band adventures in Europe..., or even that this was the first occasion where Quincy could try out the big band chart of Georgia (with flute!), which he penned on Ray's special request...

One thing is 100% sure in this context: Quincy Jones hired Clark to "contract the date" (i.e. to choose the musicians) for the recording of Ray's album Genius + Soul = Jazz, on 26 and 27 December 1960.

Special thanks to J.P. Verger for providing me with copies of the articles.

21 February 2012

Ray Charles In Bakersfield (1968)

Clockwise, starting left:
Alex Brown, Clydie King, Gwen Berry, Merry Clayton.

Compared to the impressive number of Ray Charles concerts that were recorded in Europe and Japan, American "live" recordings are relatively rare, especially where it concerns shows from the 1960s and 1970s. But after my recent 'report' on the taping of the Fresno concert, I can now describe a second U.S. show from a few months earlier in 1968 - this one taped in Bakersfield (CA), in July.
Just as the Fresno concert, this show was taped "from the audience" (possibly by the same person; the recording again is of a semi-professional, Nagra-level, quality).

On October 16, 1968, this photo (regrettably a bit out of
focus)  of the band was shot at a gig in Arizona.
Ray was caught in the best, and most talkative, of his moods. From track #9 onwards the Genius took minutes before almost every tune, bridging them with jokes and funny stories. Brother Ray's comedy skills were probably never captured better.

Wallace Davenport led the band. Ray paid trumpet player Virgil Jones an - extremely rare - extensive compliment after his contribution to Soft Winds. And - also very rare - he asked bass player Roger Humphries to step forward to accompany 'queen bee' and "very powerful lady" Clydie King on Ode To Billy Joe. "Billy-O-Soul" Preston played the organ (regrettably, his pre-intermission solo act was not recorded).

This is probably the last live taping of The Raelettes with the Clayton/Brown/Berry/King line-up. The girls resigned in the last weeks of July '68, when the Ray Charles group was filling two weeks at the Cocoanut Grove night club in LA (the possible source of the conflict is described here). Gwen "Squatty Roo" Berry had been with Ray for more than 10 years.

The setlist entails a relatively large number of (near*?) "first known live" recordings: #2, 5, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15 and (though only in a small fragment), the Let's Go Get Stoned part of #17. Something Inside Me (#11) is the only known live version of this song.
  1. Intro + Unidentified instrumental
  2. The Bright Lights And You Girl
  3. Georgia On My Mind
  4. Hallelujah I Just Love Her So
  5. The Sun Died
  6. You Made Me Love You
  7. Yesterday
  8. Soft Winds
  9. I Won't Leave
  10. Crying Time (with Gwen Berry)
  11. Something Inside Me
  12. I Can't Stop Loving You
  13. Ode To Billy Joe (with Clydie King)
  14. Understanding
  15. Eleanor Rigby
  16. What'd I Say
  17. Outro (fragments of Let's Go Get Stoned, Pop Goes The Weasel)
* Live versions of the numbers 9, 10, 13, 15, and (there in a complete version) Let's Go Get Stoned have also survived through the release of the semi-bootleg It's A Blues Thing, which must have been taped around the same date as this Bakersfield concert.

20 February 2012

Ray Charles In Brussels (1975)

A collector of Ray Charles records and recordings recently provided me with a copy of an odd tape, with an uncertain provenance. What he knows is that the five tunes that are on the recording come from a radio program that was aired by the French station France Inter, and presented by Julien Delli Fiori. The tape, however, only has the music, and misses Delli Fiori's comments.
What my correspondent assumes is that the recording took place at a gig in a French speaking city, probably Brussels, in 1975. (The latter assumption is based on a phrase where you can hear announcer Joe Adams say "Merci!" to the audience).
In '75 the band also performed in Lausanne, Switzerland, and in Canada (although I have no documentation that they played in e.g. Montreal or Quebec). But the gig in the Belgian capital, at the Palais des Beaux-Arts/Paleis voor Schone Kunsten on April 27, with princess Paola in the audience, is certainly the most probable 'candidate'.

In the mid '70s Brother Ray's popularity may have been at a relatively low point, but I think musically it was one of his best periods. Listening to the Japan live album, and watching the Madrid concert - both recorded in 1975 - I'd say that his voice, and his chemistry with the Orchestra and The Raelettes have rarely been better.

The tunes are:
  1. [Unidentified fragment +] Our Suite (Ray Charles Orchestra) (solos by Johnny Coles - tp, Tony Matthews - g, John Bryant - ds)*
  2. Intro + Georgia On My Mind
  3. Feel So Bad (v. 1)
  4. Feel So Bad (v. 2)
  5. Guess Who I Saw Today (The Raelettes)
Ray & Raelettes at
unknown venue, c. 1975.
Our Suite (#1) gets an excellent treatment, with incredible trumpet acrobatics in the highest registers by the incomparable Little Johnny Coles, and one of the most elaborate drum solos ever recorded by the Orchestra, delivered by John Bryant.
What makes the 'Brussels' tape extra special, is that it holds two complete versions of Feel So Bad (#3 and #4). The doublure makes it probable that the band performed on 2 consecutive days in Brussels, or that it was a double-concert gig. Both renditions, with of course some variations, got the outrageous treatment best known from the 1975 Japan concert, where you can hear The Genius playfully explore the full 3 (or is it 4?) octaves of his vocal reach.
Guess Who I Saw Today (#5) is the tune written by Murray Grand and Elisse Boyd (from Leonard Sillman's Broadway revue New Faces, 1952). I assume it's Dorothy Berry (Durr) who took the solo on this song.

The precise line-up of the band in Brussels is unknown, but it was probably similar to the personnel at the Madrid concert on May 13, 1975 (with the certain exception of Johnny Coles, who couldn't make it to Madrid due to an eye injury**).

Unfortunately, it's not clear if France Inter's jazz programs have been decently archived. It's not entirely impossible that the other parts of the concerts are still floating around - either in their vaults, or in the possession of their former employees, or in the precious collections of Ray Charles aficionados.

*  Many thanks to John Bryant and Robbie Kwock for some of the details. ** Information kindly provided by John Bryant and Ken Tussing.

Is That Ray Charles, Playing That Piano At The Trianon In Seattle, In 1948?!

I scanned this photo from my copy of Paul De Barros, Jackson Street After Hours: The Roots Of Jazz In Seattle (Sasquatch Books, October 1993, ISBN-10: 0912365927), depicting trumpet player Floyd Standifer at the Trianon Ballroom in Seattle, in the Summer of 1948. 
Ray Charles expert Joël Dufour pointed me at the possibility that the piano player might be Ray Charles. Looking closer at  the perfect round form of the pianist's ear, his skinny ankles, and his glasses, I think Joël just might be right...

19 February 2012

The All New Ray Charles Show 1968 In Fresno

Poster for the  "The All New!
Ray Charles Show '68",
Munich, Sep. 30.
The "Revue" gig, with
the John Bishop Trio
and comedian Billy
Wallace.
Between 1967 and 1969 Ray Charles Enterprises experimented a lot with packaging evening-filling shows, not only bringing The Genius himself, his Orchestra and The Raelettes on stage, but also other singers, instrumentalists, and variety acts. These Ray Charles Shows could keep an audience busy for up to 2.5 or 3 hours.
Documentation of the content of these shows is fragmentary at best - in promotion materials it was always The Genius himself who was highlighted, and it often were The Raelettes and the Orchestra who were specifically mentioned, but the secondary acts were rarely credited, or reviewed. The best known side-man of this period was of course Billy Preston, who not only filled in his own part in many of these shows, but after intermission often came back as the band's organ player, accompanying Ray during his part of the concert.

It's hard to say whether these shows entirely covered Ray's ideas on how to stage a full evening of music  entertainment, or if they were a more trivial business-based reaction to the the competition of a growing number of "soul revues" which toured the world in these years, often initiated by record labels like Motown and Stax, sometimes also centered around celebrity acts (like Ike & Tina, Sam & Dave, Otis).
Anyhow, Ray showed that he could answer any request. Often he only flew in his basic package with the band and the girls, but if necessary he extended the show with Preston (clearly his preferred second-liner), or, more occasionally, with other acts from his Tangerine label, with dance acts (who, one newspaper reviewer remarked with admiration, changed their costumes up to 3 times during the show), or with a comedian like Billy Wallace.
In the autumn of 1968, for instance, he not only filled a few gigs with Billy Preston, but - at least once - also brought the Tangerine act The John Bishop Trio on stage, and - on at least two occasions - singer Andy Butler.
Ray may have overdone it a bit. In one press announcement the promoter found it necessary to guarantee that the Genius would be on stage for at least half of the show.
 "All New Ray Charles
Show" in Vancouver.

I recently learned that one of these full-package shows, in Fresno, on October 25, 1968, was actually taped ("from the audience", but with an audio quality that's just acceptable). The taping is sliced up in separate tunes, but what makes it unique is that not only the instrumentals by the Ray Charles Orchestra have survived, but also the three tunes contributed by Andy Butler (all accompanied by Ray's band). If there were any additional variety acts (from dancers or a comedian), these - unfortunately - didn't make it to the audio copy that I've heard.

Joe Adams announced the concert as "The Ray Charles Show 1968". The setlist was:
  1. Blowing The Blues Away (Ray Charles Orchestra)
  2. Satin Doll (Ray Charles Orchestra)
  3. Ray Minor Ray (Ray Charles Orchestra)
  4. Take Me (voc. Andy Butler with Ray Charles Orchestra)
  5. Shake A Tail Feather (voc. Andy Butler with Ray Charles Orchestra)
  6. By the Time I Get to Phoenix (voc. Andy Butler with Ray Charles Orchestra)
  7. Going Home (Ray Charles Orchestra)
  8. Unidentified instrumental (Ray Charles Orchestra)
  9. Swing A Little Taste
  10. The Bright Lights And You Girl
  11. Georgia On My Mind
  12. Margie
  13. Born To Lose
  14. You Made Me Love You (I Didn't Want To Do It)
  15. Come Rain Or Come Shine
  16. My Soul
  17. Yesterday
  18. Soft Winds
  19. I Don't Need No Doctor
  20. Crying Time
  21. Tell All The World About You
  22. Soul Serenade (ft. Susaye Greene)
  23. Understanding
  24. I Only Have Eyes For You (ft. Verlyn Flenaugh)
  25. One Hurt Deserves Another (ft. Barbara Nell Terrault)
  26. Eleanor Rigby
  27. Sweet Young Thing Like You 
  28. What'd I Say
  29. Outro
Notes
#2. Only known version of Satin Doll apart from the one supposedly played by Ray (without his Orchestra) at the Sold On Soul tribute to Duke Ellington in 1970.
#4. Take Me is the Andy Butler tune originally released as the flipside of the Tangerine single TRC 985 (1967).
Photo shot at a concert the
night before Fresno, in
San Luis Obispo.
#5. Shake A Tail Feather is performed in an arrangement that's very different from Ray's famous rendition in The Blues Brothers.
#7. Going Home: rare live version of this tune from the album Jazz Number II.
The usual introduction on stage of Ray Charles is between #8 and #9.
#16. My Soul: this Ray Charles tune was never released, and its copyrights may not even have been secured; this is the third version that I know of. Read this article for more background.
#22. Soul Serenade: the song made famous by Aretha Franklin; Susaye's version is excellent.
#23. Understanding: one of my personal favorites in Ray's entire oeuvre; the response of the audience on the bawdy lyrics is as funny as I expected. This is one of the few known live versions.
#24. I Only Have Eyes For You: I don't know of any other recording of this song.
#28. What'd I Say got a (variation on) the outrageous 12-minute version with a "Spanish intro", that I also know from a recording by the French radio station Europe-1 (at an unknown venue and date, but possibly from one of the concerts in 1968 at La Salle Pleyel in Paris).

Personnel
The line-up of the band - led by Wallace Davenport - must have been highly similar to the personnel that less than 3 weeks before backed Ray during the concert at La Salle Pleyel (with the sure exception of Billy Preston). Recently a photo of the band during the same October tour in the U.S. has popped up; although slightly out of focus, it will help to reconstruct the line-up.
Ray brought his rather new line-up of Raelettes (the "old" group had left after a dispute in the Summer) also to both concerts. During the Fresno concert Ray calls out the names of Susaye [Greene], Verlyn [Flanaugh] and Barbara [Nell Terrault]. The fourth Raelette in this line-up was Beverly Ann Lesure.

16 February 2012

Ray Charles Live In Milan (1991)

The YouTube video clips below come from a concert at the Milanofiori Forum di Assago on December 4, 1991. They were part of a television program, directed by Giancarlo Nicotra, that was aired on December 6,  by TMC (Telemontecarlo).
A good copy of the 59-minute video that I already knew from this source recently landed in my inbox (update: added below). There's also a torrent titled Ray Charles Live In Milano At Forum Milano, probably identical to this taping by TMC.

The setlist was:
  1. Intro
  2. Then We'll Be Home (Sadies Tune)
  3. Busted
  4. Georgia On My Mind
  5. Some Enchanted Evening
  6. Teardrops From My Eyes
  7. Yours
  8. I Feel So Bad
  9. The Good Life
  10. Chain Of Fools 
  11. Baby It's Cold Outside (ft Angie Workman)
  12. I Can't Stop Loving You
  13. What'd I Say
  14. Outro
  15. O Sole Mio
This version of The Good Life (#9) is the first recording I know with The Ray Charles Orchestra (it was one of Ray's favorites at symphony gigs). Although Brother Ray "never did encores", the super soulful rendition of O Sole Mio (#15) very much looked like one.

Personnel: 
Musicians: David Hoffman, Chuck Parrish, Jason Carder, Jim Rotondi - trumpets; Marc Fields, Steve Sigmund, Mike Guerrier, Jose Davila - trombones; Al Waters, Al Jackson (bandleader), Steve Elliott, Rudy Johnson, Jim Farnsworth - saxophones; Nils Johnson - bass, Kenny Carr - guitar; Peter Turre - drums, Ernest Vantrease - B3 Hammond organ. The Raelettes: Stella Yarbrough, Trudy Cohran, Angie Workman, Paula Moye, Wendy Smith.

Then We'll Be Home (Sadies Tune):

Georgia On My Mind:

Some Enchanted Evening:

Busted:

Complete show (incl. commercials):

14 February 2012

Ray Charles Tribute On Ice (2002)


On Saturday, December 21, 2002 NBC aired a Ray Charles Tribute On Ice from the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Commentator: Dan Hicks.
 From Jet,
28 October 2002.

The program, taped on 5 October, featured the music of Ray Charles and the skating of Olympic and world champions. I've seen a copy of a French version of the NBC program, as it was aired in 2005 by Paris Première. The program, to put it mildly, didn't make clear why Ray's music should be  combined with a whole evening of ice dancing, but the audience, the dancers and Ray seemed to enjoy themselves.

Interview segment from press conference:

Charles performed live (with orchestra tapes) four times throughout the show (#1, #9, #13 and #14).
He sang You Are My Sunshine in a new arrangement that was highly similar to the version used on the posthumous album Genius And Friends (2005) - there with a hopeless contribution by Chris Isaak, here with very reasonable vocals by an unidentified girl (I assume one of the Raelettes).
Drift Away came as a surprise - this is the only known live version since the album release of Ain't It So, from 1979. 

The other tunes on the setlist were coming directly from Ray's well known studio albums, with the exception of Amazing Grace, that was taken from the Music Of Hope show (2001), recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra.
  1. You Are My Sunshine - live
  2. Hallelujah I Love Her So
  3. Hit The Road Jack
  4. Georgia On My Mind
  5. Let The Good Times Roll
  6. Here We Go Again
  7. If I Could
  8. Amazing Grace 
  9. Drift Away - live
  10. Still Crazy After All These Years
  11. A Song For You
  12. I've Got A Woman
  13. Oh, What A Beautiful Morning - live
  14. America The Beautiful - live

13 February 2012

Ray Charles In Concerto In Sanremo (1981)

Still from video.
In October 1981 Ray Charles was booked for two subsequent days in Sanremo (or in Sanremo and Viareggio). But flying to Italy, the Ray Charles group landed 7 hours late in London because of a strike by flight engineers in the U.S., and had to cancel the first concert on the 12th, scheduled on the rooftop of the Sanremo Casino.
They just made it to the other concert, on October 13, at the Teatro Tenda Bussoladomani di Lido di Camaiore (according to the credits of the video*) or at the Teatro Ariston (according to a contemporary newspaper source).
An umptieth generation low-quality 31-minute video with a partial edit of the (semi?)live concert has survived.
The preparation time for the concert clearly still had been too short. The bandstand was awkwardly small, but nevertheless flocked with a bunch of Italians (without any obvious practical role, but all staring handsomely into the cameras when they were caught by them). We can see and hear Ray calling off the first tune (Riding Thumb), because he heard "too much highs", and after "all five" Raelettes reached the stage, he made Estella Yarbrough first check the backing vocalists' mikes, before they started I Want Your Love. The stage had a, possibly thematic, seemingly outdated, text sign (maybe the name of a festival or concert series): "Sanremo / Estate 81" ("estate" means Summer).
The TV program was directed by Amanzio Todini, and was broadcast by Rai. The tunes that made it to my viewing copy were:
  1. Intro
  2. Riding Thumb
  3. Busted
  4. Georgia On My Mind
  5. Oh, What A Beautiful Morning
  6. For Mamma
  7. I Want Your Love (ft Estella Yarbrough)
  8. Baby Please Don't Go
  9. What'd I Say
* I'm still highly confused by all toponymic data in my database related to Sanremo, Bussoladomani, Viareggio, etc. I'd be very happy with some help by Italian readers of this blog. Please contact me (bob@result.com) if you are aware of the lay of the land.

    08 February 2012

    The Two Ray Charles Concerts At The Warsaw Jazz Jamboree (1984)

    Interior of 2-CD booklet.
    The release & media history of the concerts at the 1984 Warsaw Jazz Jamboree is really (really!) complicated. For me it started, quite simply, a few years ago, when I found two or three clips from a live concert on Youtube.
    Investigating the provenance of these clips a bit further for a first posting on this blog, I happily stumbled upon an extensive digital audio file of excellent quality - assuming that all tracks from this taping came from one concert.
    After that, a reader pointed me at a limited CD release by a Polish jazz club. The contents of this CD were far from congruent with the contents of the audio. My article on that "find" inspired yet another reader a couple of months later to send me the files of a much less legitimate Polish 2-CD, containing (parts of) two concerts.
    Furthermore, I received a viewing copy of a video, representing about one half of the concert that had been the source of the YouTube clips.
    After sorting out what exactly was on these CD albums and in the video, I made some conjectures about the differences between these albums, the video and the digital bootleg. Thinking that I had solved most of the puzzle.
    But since then not only the "whole" version of that video has turned up, I also received information that the other concert had been taped and broadcast by Polish television as well...
    Cover of 2-CD.
    This is my fourth attempt to share this story.* I'm not that confident anymore that I've now solved the whole puzzle. No doubt, new facts - and maybe even new media files - will emerge.

    The personnel
    Musicians: Robbie Kwock, Mark Curry, Jim Seely, Jeff Kaye - trumpets; John Boice, Dan Marcus, Dan Weinstein, Dana Hughes - trombones;  Brian Mitchell, Clifford Solomon (band leader), Ricky Woodard, Rudy Johnson, Louis Van Taylor - saxophones; Bobby Floyd - organ; Dennis Nelson - guitar; Roger Hines - bass; Ricky Kirkland - drums. The Raelettes: Trudy Cohran, Anne Johnson, Janice Mitchell, Elaine Woodard, Estella Yarbrough.

    The concerts
    The two concerts took place at the Congress Hall (the Sala Kongresowa in the Palace of Culture and Science), during the Warsaw Jazz Jamboree, on 27 October 1984. The first show started at 2 p.m., the  second show at 8 p.m. Ray, the band and the girls were in excellent shape.

    The broadcasts and the releases
    Both concerts were taped for TV, and both - much later - were released on a bootleggish double-CD. The evening concert was also audiotaped twice. One of these recordings was used for a limited Polish Jazz Club release on a CD (Poljazz X-PSJ 002); the other (superior!) audio recording - which may have been related to a radio broadcast - can only be found on the web, as a digital file.
    PollJazz Edition.
    The liner notes of the 2-CD and the voice over of an announcer on the video of the second concert both mention sound problems at the start of the concert. The instrumental tracks #1, #2, and #3 of the afternoon concert are missing from the 1st disk of the 2-CD, possibly because the engineers were simply waiting for Ray to appear on stage; possibly also because the sound wasn't balanced correctly yet, which also can be heard in the video version of this concert.

    The 2-CD
    LP: Poljazz X-PSJ 002.
    The double CD was released - obviously for friends only - in 2006, in memory of Andrzej Zbroch (1946 - 2005), a blues connoisseur with a profound love for and knowledge of soul, jazz and other African American music. Zbroch played a prominent role in the Polish Jazz Society, and I guess he was also deeply involved in the Warsaw Jazz Jamboree (he may be the person who can be heard during the introduction part of the second concert; the voice over at the start of the first video might also be his, and he could be the host who is briefly visible at the start of the second video).
    The 2-CD and its cover were "prepared for release" by a "Judge Dredd", who stipulated in his notes that the concerts were "[...r]ecorded on professional equipment and tapes. Years later transcoded to CD also using professional equipment. Recorded from the mixing table during the concert."

    The PolJazz album
    Possibly not very long after the actual concert, The Polish Jazz Society released a limited LP edition (Poljazz X-PSJ 002), titled Ray Charles At Jazz Jamboree 1984, with 10 tracks from the evening concert. The compiler of the double-CD credited Zbroch for making this seclection. You can listen to the album here.

    The audio taping
    Cover artwork of 2-DVD???
    Furthermore, I've found a digital audio copy, which is of excellent quality. It only entails the tunes from the second concert. Oddly, one of the  instrumentals of this concert, Woody 'n' Bu, can't be found on any of the other tapings or releases. Actually, attributing it with the third position on the setlist is my conjecture. The order of the tunes on this recording differs considerably from the set list. And for some reason, Georgia On My Mind and (an excellent version of) Come Live With Me were skipped from this compilation.


    The TV recordings
    Photo by John Bebel.
    The first video clips that I have embedded below were all taken from a broadcast of the 2 p.m. concert by TVP Kultura (active since 2005; this station still frequently re-broadcasts the concert). My viewing copy contained the whole 2 p.m. concert, including the instrumentals. A Polish website offers a (premium SMS) paid download (if you're in Poland), and a free 10 minute video preview, from the 2 p.m. show, with I'm Gonna Go Fishin' and (almost all of) The Team.
    My umptieth generation viewing copy of the 8 p.m. concert (of a much lower quality; the uploader of the last clip below used a better source) also carries the TVP Kultura logo. Mother network TVP probably also aired both shows in or shortly after 1984.
    I have also found traces of a 68-minute (bootleg?) 2-DVD, entitled Ray Charles & Big Band - Jazz Jamboree, Poland 1984. It's not clear if the contents of this "release" are similar to any of the footage (either from the first or from the second concert) that I've seen so far.


    2 pm setlistTV
    2-CD
    1 I'm Gonna Go Fishin' x
    2 . The Team x
    3 . Straight Ahead And Strive For Tone x
    4 . Riding Thumb x x
    5 . Busted x x
    6 . Georgia On My Mind x x
    7 . You Made Me Love You (I Didn't Want To Do It) x x
    8 . I've Got News For You x x
    9 . Oh, What A Beautiful Morning x x
    10 . She Knows x x
    11 . I Want Your Love  x (x)
    12 . All I Need  x x
    13 . Don't Change On Me x x
    14 . I Can't Stop Loving You x x
    15 . Every Saturday Night x x
    16 . 3/4 Time x x
    17 . Born To Love Me x x
    18 . What'd I Say x x
    • #1 to #3: Orchestra instrumentals.
    • #1: The studio recording of the tune is on the album My Kind Of Jazz Part III from 1975, where it was the only take in which Brother Ray contributed on piano. Listed as Going Fishing on the Warsaw 2-CD; solos Jim Seely - tp, Clifford Solomon - ts, Bobby Floyd - p.
    • #2:  The Team was also on the setlist of the 1990 Christmas concert in Tokyo. This, then, is the only other known and the earliest live rendition. Solos Rudy Johnson - ts, Jeff Kaye - tp.
    • #3: Solos Louis Van Taylor - bs, Robbie Kwok - tp, Dan Marcus - tb.
    • Ray Charles intro between #3 and #4 .
    • #8: Listed as We're Gonna Make It on 2-CD.
    • #10: Solo Roger Hines - b.
    • #11: Premature fade-out on 2-CD because engineers ran out of tape. Title is uncertain; listed as I Need Your Love on the 2-CD; tune is also known from one of the TV programs extracted from recordings at the 1987 Jazz à Juan Festival, where it was (certainly erroneously) titled If I Could.    
    • #12: Listed as Send Me A Love Song on 2-CD; ft Elaine Woodard.
    • Ray Charles outro after #18.
    8 pm setlist TV Audio LP 2-CD
    1 . Sister Sadie x x x
    2 . The Time Is Right x x x
    3 . Woody 'n' Bu x x
    4 . Let The Good Times Roll x x x x
    5 Georgia On My Mind x x x
    6 . Then We'll Be Home (Sadies Tune) x x x x
    7 . Come Live With Me x x x
    8 . Some Enchanted Evening x x x x
    9 . Do I Ever Cross Your Mind x x x
    10 . We're Gonna Make It x x x
    11 . Shameless x x x
    12 . Eleanor Rigby x x x
    13 . I Can't Stop Loving You x x x x
    14 . Knock On Wood x x x x
    15 . 3/4 Time x x x x
    16 . Born To Love Me x x x x
    17 . What'd I Say  x x x x
    • Orchestra intro before #1 on TV.
    • #1 to #3 are Orchestra instrumentals.
    • Intro Ray Charles between #3 and #4.
    • #10 Vocals by The Raelettes.
    • #11 Ft Elaine Woodard.
    • #14 Ft Trudy Cohran.
    • #17 With intro I'm Gonna Keep On Singin', followed by Ray Charles' outro.
    Arrival at Chopin Airport:

    2 p.m. - She Knows:

    8 p.m. - complete:


    Ray Charles would return twice to the Warsaw Jazz Jamboree: in 1996 and in 2000.

    * Information on several releases, titles, line-up and soloists were kindly provided by Jeff Helgesen, Steve Sigmund, Louis Van Taylor, Robbie Kwock, Dan Marcus, Mo' Pleasure and Jeff Kaye, Joël Dufour and J.P. Verger. For an interesting take on Polish jazz culture during the last decade of the cold war, read this.

    04 February 2012

    Ray Charles - Il Genio, Live In Viareggio (1979)

    Still from video.
    On 9 August 1979 Ray Charles, his Orchestra and The Raelettes gave their first concert at the Bussola Domani in Viareggio (cf. this).

    The show, directed by Antonio Moretti, was aired by RAI (Rete 1) on 18 October. I recently saw an umptieth generation, distorted, video copy of a later broadcast by TMC.

    The setlist was without surprises:
    1. Intro
    2. Let The Good Times Roll
    3. Then We'll Be Home (Sadies Tune)
    4. Yesterday
    5. Some Enchanted Evening
    6. Georgia On My Mind
    7. Riding Thumb
    8. She Knows
    9. Hit The Road Jack
    10. I Can't Stop Loving You
    11. I Can See Clearly Now
    12. Knock On Wood (ft Trudy Cohran)
    13. What'd I Say
    14. Outro
    Personnel: 
    Musicians: Johnny Coles, Buddy Gordon, Tim Ouimette, Chase Sanborn - trumpets; John Boice, Bob Braun, Gerard Carelli, Dan Marcus - trombones; Clifford Solomon - alto saxophone, band leader; Brian Mitchell - alto saxophone; Rudy Johnson, Fred Smith - tenor saxophones; Jim Sharpe - baritone saxophone; Eugene Ross - guitar; Curtis Ohlson - bass; Peter Turre - drums; James Polk - organ. The Raelettes: Trudy Cohran, Pat Peterson, Madelyn Quebec, Estella Yarbrough.

    Special thanks to J.P. Verger for making me aware of the video.

    01 February 2012

    Ray Charles Live In Pasadena (2002)

    More photos here.
    On 6 October 2002 the Ray Charles band performed at the Verizon Musical Festival, in the Central Park of Old Pasadena. I knew about a possible bootleg with seven songs (cf. this), but today I listened to a much more extensive tracklist from an audience-taped bootleg. The audio quality was very low, but the taping has some documentary value because of the rare instrumentals, and since it (currently, as far as I know) is the last full concert taping with the Orchestra and The Raelettes.

    01. Festival speaker + audience noise
    02. Orchestra intro + Unidentified instrumental #1 (Ray Charles Orchestra)
    03. Unidentified instrumental #2 (Ray Charles Orchestra)
    04. The Shadow Of Your Smile (Ray Charles Orchestra) + Intro RC
    05. Then We'll Be Home (Sadies Tune)
    06. Busted
    07. Georgia On My Mind
    08. Mississippi Mud
    09. Just For A Thrill 
    10. Almost Like Being In Love
    11. Hey Girl
    12. Stranger In My Own Home Town
    13. A Song For You
    14. Rock Steady (The Raelettes)
    15. Shadows Of My Mind (The Raelettes)
    16. I Can't Stop Loving You (prelude only)
    17. What'd I Say + Outro