The Genius of Ray Charles is a 1959 album by Ray Charles. In 2003, the album was ranked number 263 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. Some players from Ray Charles' big band are joined by many ringers from the Count Basie and Duke Ellington bands for the first half of this program, featuring Charles belting out six songs arranged by Quincy Jones. "Let the Good Times Roll" and "Deed I Do" are highlights, and there are solos by tenorman David "Fathead" Newman, trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, and (on "Two Years of Torture") tenor Paul Gonsalves. The remaining six numbers are ballads, with Charles backed by a string orchestra arranged by Ralph Burns.
On The Blue Room, her second Decca recording, Madeleine Peyroux and producer Larry Klein re-examine the influence of Ray Charles' revolutionary 1962 date, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music. They don't try to re-create the album, but remake some of its songs and include others by composers whose work would benefit from the genre-blurring treatment Charles pioneered. Bassist David Pilch, drummer Jay Bellerose, guitarist Dean Parks, and pianist/organist Larry Goldings are the perfect collaborators. Most these ten tracks feature string arrangements by Vince Mendoza.
The genius of their first special was how it favored neither man's immediate, obvious specialty: Nelson is, of course, a country music icon, while Marsalis is one of the nation's foremost jazzmen, but for that show, they met in the middle and played some blues. This time, in taking on the Charles songbook, they allow themselves to hopscotch all over the melodic map, as he did. Charles was, of course, the "genius of soul," but he was also a musical journeyman who experimented in pop, blues, jazz, and country (most famously on his classic Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music albums). And they don't restrict themselves to Charles' own compositions, just songs he performed throughout his career.
When I first heard the blues I was hooked. I remember Joe Berger and I taking the bus to Flushing to the only record store that sold blues records. That's when I discovered the genius of Ray Charles. My uncle, Sidney Feller was his arranger and conductor and great friend. When I finally met Ray I told him that I'd been stealing his licks. He said "That's okay son, that's what I did too!" I included his "Hallelujah I Love Her So" on the Blue CD.