Thursday, September 28, 2006

This can't be a good thing

A new CD features Ray Charles singing with the Count Basie orchestra. The only problem is they never recorded together...

I assumed that it was some classic collaboration from the 1960s I'd never heard about. A couple of weeks later I came across the press release and discovered that Charles and Basie had never recorded together. They both toured Europe around the same time, some of the recorded gigs ended up in the same boxes. It was the tantalising juxtaposition of the two names that set A&R man John Burk thinking when he found the tapes. The sound of Charles's backing band was not good enough for release, he claims, but the vocals and keyboards were.

So Burk hit on the idea of using modern technology to replace the band with the Count Basie Orchestra - a marriage made in digital heaven. It's a weird idea... maybe a desperate one. And yet... it sounds pretty good. Despite knowing it's the result of long hours hunched over a computer, it actually sounds like Ray Charles ad libbing and emoting with a powerful jazz band at his elbows. Except that it didn't happen. This is a new (and extreme) example of what I once termed "bluescreen jazz"


I guess if they could make Fred Astaire dance with a vacuum cleaner...


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