In the early '50s, Ray Charles took the fiery passion of gospel and the hard-hitting sound of the blues, and by putting them together he created a whole new sound in rhythm & blues that helped make him a legend in American music.
This pairing of two totally idiosyncratic vocalists acquired legendary status over the decades in which it had been out of print. But the proof is in the listening, and frankly it doesn't represent either artist's best work. There is certainly a powerful, often sexy rapport between the two – Charles in his sweet balladeering mode, Carter with her uniquely keening, drifting high register – and they definitely create sparks in the justly famous rendition of "Baby, It's Cold Outside." The main problem is in Marty Paich's string/choir arrangements, which too often cross the line into treacle, whereas his charts for big band are far more listenable…
Ray Charles was the musician most responsible for developing soul music. Singers like Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson also did a great deal to pioneer the form, but Charles did even more to devise a new form of black pop by merging '50s R&B with gospel-powered vocals, adding plenty of flavor from contemporary jazz, blues, and (in the '60s) country. Then there was his singing; his style was among the most emotional and easily identifiable of any 20th century performer, up there with the likes of Elvis and Billie Holiday. He was also a superb keyboard player, arranger, and bandleader…
Ray Charles' seminal recordings for Atlantic have been boxed once before, as the triple-disc 1991 set The Birth of Soul. That box contained 53 tracks, the best moments of what is arguably the best period of Charles' career, but Rhino/Atlantic's 2005 seven-disc sequel, Pure Genius, doesn't bother with merely the highlights: as its subtitle makes clear, this is The Complete Atlantic Recordings (1952-1959). This is undeniably a major historical release, since it gathers all of the recordings Charles made at his creative peak, not just as a leader, but as a sideman for his saxophonist David "Fathead" Newman and sides he recorded with jazz vibraphonist Milt Jackson.
Concord Records is celebrating the 80th birthday of the legendary Ray Charles with a special gift for his legions of fans: Rare Genius: The Undiscovered Masters. This treasure trove of newly discovered recordings, highlighted by a duet with fellow icon Johnny Cash, become available on October 25th, 2010.
Ray Charles Robinson (September 23, 1930 – June 10, 2004), known professionally as Ray Charles, was an American singer, songwriter, musician, and composer. Among friends and fellow musicians he preferred being called "Brother Ray". He was often referred to as "The Genius". Charles was blind from the age of seven.
Another installment in Collectables' The Ultimate Christmas Album series, volume 3 gathers a mix of well-known and offbeat holiday tunes, including Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song", The Singing Dogs' "Jingle Bells", The Supremes' "Twinkle Twinkle Little Me", The Ventures' "Sleigh Ride", Johnny Mathis' "Winter Wonderland", Perry Como's "Home For The Holidays", Burt Bacharach' "The Bell That Couldn't Jingle", Paul Anka's "It's Christmas Everywhere", Percy Faith's "We Need A Little Christmas", Andy Williams' "Happy Holidays", Ray Charles' "Christmas Time", Eartha Kitt's "Santa Baby".