Ray Charles and the Count Basie Orchestra – Ray Sings, Basie Swings

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Ray Charles and the Count Basie Orchestra
Artist: Ray Charles and the Count Basie Orchestra
Title: Ray Sings, Basie Swings
Label: Concord
Rating: 8/10

CORPORATE LINE: “Ray Charles and Count Basie were two of the most charismatic personalities I’ve ever known. I loved them both. So to hear this amazing collaboration of their musical geniuses is a treat of the highest order. When 21st century technology and timeless soul come together, watch out! This one is for the ages.” – Quincy Jones

The producers of this CD discovered archival reels of Ray Charles and the Count Basie Orchestra performing live together in 1973. Although the vocals were superior, the remaining elements were or extremely poor quality. They decided to bring the current Count Basie Orchestra into the studio and, using the latest technology, they carefully and painstakingly laid down a new musical backdrop for Charles’ towering vocals.

THE GOOD:
“Oh, What A Beautiful Morning” – The Basie Orchestra sure does swing and Ray definitely can sing. What a gorgeous way to start an album. Ray is in all of his beautiful glory. The Basie Orchestra brings an element that would be welcome on any Ray Charles song.
“Let the Good Times Roll” – It doesn’t need a guitar to rock ‘n’ roll. The Count Basie orchestra brings the horns that rock and Ray brings the voice that rolls.
“Busted” – An absolutely gorgeous song and this time the Raelettes come through in spades.
“The Long and Winding Road” – I’ve never head Ray Charles perform th Beatles’ classic. Ray makes it his own. This song will sit in my iPod for years to come.
“Georgia On My Mind” – Irregardless of the version, this is one of the greatest songs of all time.

THE AVERAGE:
“I Can’t Stop Loving You” – This upbeat rendition is missing the lovelorn aspect with the Raelettes and the orchestra. The tempo sounds all wrong.
“Every Saturday Night” – The orchestra brings it—but the backup singers, the Raelettes, don’t help.
“Feel So Bad” – There is nothing better than listening to Ray Charles ad-lib.

THE BAD:
Nothing.

FRANKLY: It’s a shame that Ray Charles wasn’t put together with Count Basie and his orchestra when he was alive. Count Basie was a jazz giant. And yet, the Count Basie Orchestra, sans the Count, still does a magnificent job. There are a few songs that aren’t performed at their best—but it’s another great opportunity to listen to the soul-man swing.

+ CC Morris

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