Friday, May 13, 2011
The Rare Genius Of Ray Charles
You think I'd remember. Anyway, I got to see Ray Charles live again about 30 years later at Lincoln Center, when I was far more aware of what a singularly remarkable talent he was. Van Morrison said: "His sound was stunning - it was blues, it was R&B, it was gospel, it was swing - it was all the stuff I was listening to before that but rolled into one amazing, soulful thing."
Ray Charles died in 2004, but last year a new Ray Charles album was released: Rare Genius: The Undiscovered Masters. Producer John Burk discovered hundreds of unreleased masters and chose ten, spanning the 1970s to 1990s. Burk has said that the tracks were narrowed down to songs that felt connected like an album.
One big caveat is that many of the tunes were incomplete or unfinished so Burk brought in studio musicians to finalize the tracks. While I was initially skeptical about this posthumous augmentation, upon listening to the record my doubts vanished. As one reviewer put it, "This is no re-release, compilation or collection of rarities that might have appeared somewhere a long time ago. "It really does sound like a new Ray Charles album. And it provides only the latest example of Ray Charles "as the genius he was."