genius

Ray Charles' 'Genius + Soul = Jazz'

Ray Charles was best known for his work in the idioms of R&B, rock ’n’ roll and even successful forays into country. But he also recorded influential jazz albums, including the groundbreaking Genius + Soul = Jazz originally released in 1961, and continuing into the ’70s with My Kind of Jazz, Jazz Number II and My Kind of Jazz Part 3. On April 6, 2010, Concord Records will release a deluxe edition two-CD set featuring digitally remastered versions of all four albums including encyclopedic liner notes by Will Friedwald, jazz writer for The Wall Street Journal and author of several books on music and popular culture, along with original liner notes by Dick Katz and Quincy Jones.

Genius + Soul = Jazz was recorded at the Van Gelder Studios in Englewood Cliffs, NJ, in late 1960. The producer was Creed Taylor; arrangers, Quincy Jones and Ralph Burns. Ray Charles played the organ with three vocals (“I’ve Got News for You,” “I’m Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town” and “One Mint Julep”) and band members included members of the Count Basie Orchestra: Thad Jones, Joe Newman, Billy Mitchell, Frank Wess, Freddie Green, and Sonny Payne among others. Issued originally on ABC Records’ legendary Impulse jazz label, the record ascended to the #4 spot on Billboard’s pop album chart, and spawned the very first singles on Impulse, heretofore an album label. “I’ve Got News for You,” rose to #8 R&B and #66 on the Hot 100. In addition, Charles’ version of “One Mint Julep” charted #1 R&B and #8 pop, and his rendition of the blues standard “I’m Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town” reached #25 R&B and #84 pop.

As annotator Friedwald states, “Genius + Soul = Jazz . . . was a bold and innovative album, but, at the same time, a direct step forward from his earlier work.” Although Basie himself does not appear on the album, the Count was a major model as Charles assembled a full-scale, working orchestra. Basie also influenced his use of organ in a jazz context, and Charles was happy to record at the Van Gelder studio, where Jimmy Smith had recorded his classic Blue Note albums. Truly, as Dick Katz wrote in his original January 1961 liner notes, “The combination here of rare talent plus uncommon craftsmanship has produced a record that showcases the timeless quality and innate taste that is uniquely that of Ray Charles.”

Some nine years later, Charles recorded another jazz album, My Kind of Jazz. With sessions in Los Angeles this time, Charles surrounded himself with such players as Bobby Bryant and Blue Mitchell, trumpet; Glen Childress, trombone; Andy Ennis, Albert McQueen and Clifford Scott, saxophone; and Ben Martin, guitar. The album contained Charles’ own “Booty-Butt” (which was issued as a single on his own Tangerine label), Lee Morgan’s “Sidewinder,” and Horace Silver’s “Señor Blues.”

In his original liner notes to My Kind of Jazz, Quincy Jones wrote, “This album is the essence of what Ray used to tell us when we were kids: Be true to the soul of the material you’re dealing with.”

Jazz Number II was recorded roughly two years later at Charles’ Tangerine/RPM Studios and issued on Tangerine Records. Charles enlisted an impressive cast of arrangers: Alf Clausen, Teddy Edwards, Jimmy Heath and Roger Neumann.  The tracks included Ray Charles and Roger Neumann’s “Our Suite,” Teddy Edwards’ “Brazilian Skies” and “Going Home,” Thad Jones’ “Kids Are Pretty People” and Jimmy Heath’s “Togetherness.”

Finally, My Kind of Jazz Part 3, which concludes the Genius + Soul = Jazz deluxe package, was recorded in Los Angeles circa 1975, featured the Ray Charles Orchestra including Clifford Solomon, alto sax; Glen Childress, trombone; Johnny Coles, trumpet; Leroy Cooper, baritone sax; and James Clay, tenor sax. Included are compositions by Duke Ellington, Horace Silver, Jimmy Heath and Benny Golson. Issued on Charles’ own Crossover Records, the album reached #55 on the R&B chart in 1976.

The reissue of Genius + Soul = Jazz continues Concord Music Group’s long-term reissuing of the Ray Charles catalog in cooperation with the Ray Charles Foundation. Among the other albums repackaged in the past year are Genius Hits the Road, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Message From the People, plus the career compilation titled Genius.

Phil Ramone is the 'Genius' Behind Anticipated Winter Projects

Ella Fitzgerald- for the Grateful Web

With the success of Tony Bennett's 'Duets: An American Classic' (Columbia), 'We All Love Ella' (Verve), the corresponding PBS Special 'We Love Ella! A Tribute To The First Lady Of Song' and now the recently released memoir Making Records: The Scenes Behind the Music (Hyperion), one would think 2007 is already the year of Phil Ramone, but there's even more to come from the protean producer. The next four months bring a medley of new music productions for film, stage and CD.

*'AUGUST RUSH' WARNER BROS FILM OUT NOV 21st, 2007

Ramone produced three tracks sung by actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers for this musically narrated drama. Ramone served as the music producer for the concert prior to the films premiere featuring performances by The Berklee College of Music Orchestra and Choir, IMPACT's Charles Mack, cellist Jenn Kuhn, and guitarists Doug Smith and Christ Trapper with Berklee solo vocalists Jennifer Hirsch, and Kevin Ross and solo instrumentalists Alex Han and Alexis Grapsas.

*RUFUS WAINWRIGHT 'RUFUS DOES JUDY AT CARNEGIE HALL' OUT DEC 4TH, 2007 ON GEFFEN

Ramone helped Wainwright recreate Judy Garland's famed 1961 Carnegie Hall concert in its entirety on this two disc 27 live track set.

*ANNE MURRAY 'DUETS: FRIENDS & LEGENDS' OUT JAN 15th, 2008 ON EMI

Some of the finest female voices intermingle on this album of Murray's classic songs. Recorded in Los Angeles, Nashville and Toronto, Ramone paired Shania Twain, Martina McBride, Nelly Furtado, Isabelle Boulay, kd lang, Celtic Woman, Carole King, Olivia Newton-John, Emmylou Harris, Jann Arden, Shelby Lynne, Sarah Brightman, Celine Dion, Amy Grant, Indigo Girls, Dawn Langstroth (Anne's daughter) and a previously recorded Dusty Springfield track with Anne.

*SHELBY LYNNE 'JUST A LITTLE LOVIN'' OUT FEB 5th, 2008 ON LOST HIGHWAY

Lynne explains how she chose Ramone for this homage to country legend Dusty Springfield, "I needed someone who would understand that these songs stand the test of time, and that Dusty Springfield is timeless.... Then one afternoon [my manager] Betty mentioned the guy who would understand me. He would allow me more room in the studio, and not just being the girl singer. He would choose the right band. So, I picked up the phone and called Phil Ramone."

*2008 MUSICARES PERSON OF THE YEAR HONORING ARETHA FRANKLIN FEB 8th, 2008

Ramone is currently putting together an all-star lineup for this anticipated and prestigious annual event held in Los Angeles two days before the GRAMMY Awards. Honoring the seventeen-time GRAMMY-winning recording artists Aretha Franklin is sure to produce a regal line up.