Recorded in 1985, The Spirit of Christmas finds Ray Charles performing a variety of holiday favorites with vocal assistance from the Raelettes and an appearance by jazz trumpeter Freddie Hubbard. The ten tracks mix standards and originals, including "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," and the ballad "That Spirit of Christmas," which was featured in the movie National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. The Spirit of Christmas is perfect background music for any holiday celebration.
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. The brilliance of his 1950s and '60s work, however, can't obscure the fact that he made few classic tracks after the mid-'60s, though he recorded often and performed until the year before his death.
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.
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.
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".
7 Classic Albums, Vol. 2 album for sale by The Ray Charles Singers was released 2013 on the Real Gone Jazz label. EU-only four CD collection containing seven albums from the Soul/Jazz/Rock icon. Includes the albums In Person, The Genius Sings The Blues, Soul Meeting, The Genius Afterhours, Dedicated To You, Genius = Soul = Jazz And Ray Charles And Betty Carter. They come in a double thick Jewel Box on 4 CDs. All the albums been digitally remastered and enhanced for superior quality and the Real Gone Jazz label has garnered some really good reviews for sound quality. The digitally enhanced sound is a good indicator. A mumber of lush orchestral numbers a la Nat King Cole but oh well. They are good too. These are from 1960-61. Half of the fourth disc is composed of duets with Betty Carter. Disc 2 is all piano plus instrumentals, with Milt Jackson on the first half.
This varied, budget-priced, four-disc set collects seven of the great Ray Charles' Atlantic Records LPs, plus an LP from ABC Records in the same package, which means one hears Charles in all sorts of formats, with small combos, at the piano in an intimate setting, with full orchestras, and in live performance, and it adds up to a wide-angle look at one of the most important voices of 20th century pop music. Included are the albums Ray Charles and The Great Ray Charles, both from 1957, Yes, Indeed!! and Brothers of Soul, both from 1958, Ray Charles at Newport, What'd I Say, and The Genius of Ray Charles, all from 1959, and The Genius Hits the Road from 1960. Genius, indeed – this is vintage Ray Charles in the middle of his legendary career, all for a budget price.
Ray Charles is an American legend beyond compare. This deluxe eight-disc box set proves it by encompassing Ray's entire Atlantic Records repertoire on the first six CDs. Additionally, the set includes an entire disc (27 tracks, all but three previously unreleased) of outtakes, live recordings, and alternate versions. Plus, there's a bonus DVD that features Ray live at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1960 and an exclusive interview with Ahmet Ertegun, conducted by Ray Director Taylor Hackford. Special packaging features a record player-style box and a linen-bound hardback book.
It can't get much classier than toasting the holidays with soul music. The elegant sleigh bells and brass arrangements compliment each other almost as perfectly as presents and loved ones.