Jazz Vocals

Live And Lively


This month, Concord Records released a classic Ray Charles recording in CD format, 1965's Live In Concert. Even die-hard fans will find something new and exciting in this remastered recording with extra tracks that didn't appear on the original LP.

The concert took place at L.A.'s Shrine Auditorium and was recorded without the knowledge of Ray or his musicians. Joe Adams, Charles' manager, enlisted one of the top L.A. recording engineers at his own expense, knowing that capturing the excitement of the live show would result in a fantastic album.

Listening to Charles in concert brings to mind Bollywood movies which, in order to give audiences their money's worth, were packed to the gills with drama, comedy, singing and dancing. Ray's shows ran the gamut from Big Band jazz to small ensemble R&B and country, taking his audience on a virtual tour of the 20th century American music scene.

Because Ray's radio hits usually were in the smaller group format, many people are unaware of how integral the Big Band format was to his sound. Manned by top players like David "Fathead" Newman with arrangements by Quincy Jones, it added sophistication to the soul genre that Charles launched nearly single-handedly.

The CD follows the live show, beginning with an emcee introduction followed by instrumental pieces. By the time Ray appears to sing his classic "I've Got A Woman," the audience is pumped and primed.

Charles' warmth and humor enliven his performance, most notably in a cheeky "Making Whoopee," where he inserts himself into the narrative as the hapless husband who's eventual alimony payments are too steep a price to pay for any extra-marital whoopee. Charles' joie de vivre, captured surreptitiously, makes this release a true treasure and a wonderful addition to his legacy.