Willie Nelson joined Ray Price's Cherokee Cowboys in 1961, the first step in a lifelong friendship between the two men. From that point on, the pair never fell out of touch. At the height of his superstardom in 1980, Nelson cut a duet album with Price called San Antonio Rose, the first of three joint efforts they'd cut over the years. Whenever the pair got together, they'd sing the old songs, Western swing standards and honky tonk classics from the '50s and '60s – the songs that form the core of For the Good Times: A Tribute to Ray Price, a salute Willie delivered three years after Price's 2013 death.
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.
Lou Busch was a major arranger/conductor who created an alter ego for himself in the guise of Joe 'Fingers' Carr, the ragtime and honky-tonk pianist. Lou Busch, who played piano with Hal Kemp in the '30s, re-emerged in the '50s and '60s as a ragtime revivalist. These 1960 and 1961 LPs (the latter with Ira Ironstrings) capture his finest finger work as you hear six sweet medleys plus Too Fat Polka; Stumbling, and more!
Mel Tormé and Buddy Rich had been friends for decades prior to finally getting around to recording together. Although largely a Tormé vocal record, the Buddy Rich Orchestra, with guest altoist Phil Woods, is in top form, and the drummer/leader has several solos…