Aretha: With The Ray Bryant Combo

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Aretha: With The Ray Bryant Combo
Studio album by Aretha Franklin
Released February 27, 1961
Recorded August 1, 1960-January 10, 1961 at Columbia Recording Studios,
(New York City, New York)
Genre Jazz, Traditional Pop
Length 32:47
Label Columbia (CS8412)
Producer John H. Hammond
Aretha Franklin chronology
Songs of Faith
(1956)
Aretha: With The Ray Bryant Combo
(1961)
The Electrifying Aretha Franklin
(1962)

Aretha: With The Ray Bryant Combo is the second studio album by American singer Aretha Franklin, Released on February 27, 1961 by Columbia Records. The album is Aretha's first release for Columbia, and is also known under its working title Right Now It's Aretha. Following in the footsteps of close friend Sam Cooke, Aretha was "discovered" by famed Columbia Records producer John H. Hammond, who on the cover notes of the 1973 edition of "The Great Aretha Franklin: The First 12 Slides" mentions, that she was in fact recommended by the composer Curtis Reginald Lewis. With the support of her father, Reverend C.L. Franklin, Aretha venured out to New York City's Columbia Record Studios to record her debut album for the label. Hammond paired Aretha Franklin with the Ray Bryant combo and arranger J. Leslie McFarland, while taking charge of the album's production, which was received to mixed reviews.

The album showcases a young Aretha Franklin (only 18 years old, at the time of these recordings), covering a range of jazz and pop standards. Columbia Records couldn't clearly classify Aretha's sound, as either jazz or pop. Aretha's subsequent albums would show her moving from the realms of both sounds, and audiences as she tries to define her "own soulful sound". Though rare to find an original 6-eye pressing on vinyl, Columbia Records re-released these sessions and retitled them as "The Great Aretha Franklin: The First 12 Slides", in 1972. The exact same recording "The Great Aretha Franklin: The First 12 Slides", was once more re-released on vinyl, this time in 1973 by CBS/Embassy, trademarks of Columbia Records, probably being a UK edition, which on the center label bears these identification numbers: EMB S-31006 (KC 31953). There are some minor changes in the track list for the 1973 edition as well. (See the separate track listing below the 1972 listing).

Reception[edit]

"The word is out. A magnetic new artist, Aretha Franklin, only a short while away from her father's gospel church in Detroit, has been breaking up audience in theatres and nightclubs throughout the country and on Columbia single records. Combining a completely natural and uninhibited vocal style with an irresistible rhythmic sense, Aretha Franklin has established herself as one of the hottest new performers in show business and one likely to set new standards in the entertainment industry.

"She doesn't just open the door - she breaks it down."

-From the liner notes by Frank Driggs

Tracks[edit]

  • The album was recorded at the New York studios of Columbia Records, 207 East 30th Street, except tracks 1 and 4 which were recorded at the company's studios at 799 Seventh Avenue.
  • All songs produced by John Hammond and arranged by J. Leslie McFarland. Featuring Ray Bryant on piano.

Track Listing - 1972 Edition[edit]

Side One[edit]

1. "Won't Be Long" (J. Leslie McFarland) 3:12
Recorded on November 29, 1960
With John McFarland, piano; William (Bill) Lee, bass; Belton (Sticks) Evans, drums
2. "Over The Rainbow" (Harold Arlen, E.Y. Harburg) 2:42
Recorded on August 1, 1960
With Chauncey (Lord) Westbrook, Clifton (Skeeter) Best, guitar; William (Bill) Lee, bass; Osie Johnson, drums; Tyree Glenn, trombone
3. "Love Is The Only Thing" (J. Leslie McFarland) 2:44
Recorded on August 1, 1960
With Chauncey (Lord) Westbrook, Clifton (Skeeter) Best, guitar; William (Bill) Lee, bass; James Osie Johnson, drums; Tyree Glenn, trombone; Paul Owens, vocal obbligato
4. "Sweet Lover" (J. Leslie McFarland, Sidney Wyche) 3:26
Recorded on December 19, 1960
With William (Bill) Lee, bass; Belton (Sticks) Evans, drums
5. "All Night Long" (Curtis Lewis) 3:01
Recorded on November 17, 1960
With Chauncey (Lord) Westbrook, guitar; Bill Lee, bass; Belton (Sticks) Evans, drums; Al Sears, tenor saxophone; Quentin Jackson, trombone
6. "Who Needs You?" (Billie Holiday, Jeanne Burns) 2:50
Recorded on January 10, 1961
With Aretha Franklin, piano; Al Sears, tenor saxophone; Chauncey (Lloyd) Westbrook, guitar; Milton John (Milt) Hinton, bass; Belton (Sticks) Evans, drums

Side Two[edit]

1. "Right Now" (J. Leslie McFarland) 2:27
Recorded on August 1, 1960
With Clifton (Skeeter) Best, guitar; William (Bill) Lee, bass; James Osie Johnson, drums; Tyree Glenn, trombone
2. "Are You Sure" (Meredith Wilson) 2:44
From the Broadway musical production of The Unsinkable Molly Brown
Recorded on January 10, 1961
With Aretha Franklin, piano; Al Sears, tenor saxophone; Chauncey (Lloyd) Westbrook, guitar; Milton John (Milt) Hinton, bass; Belton (Sticks) Evans, drums
3. "Maybe I'm A Fool" (J. Leslie McFarland) 3:20
Working title: "Baby, I'm A Fool"
Recorded on January 10, 1961
With Aretha Franklin, piano; Al Sears, tenor saxophone; Chauncey (Lloyd) Westbrook, guitar; Milton John (Milt) Hinton, bass; Belton (Sticks) Evans, drums
4. "It Ain't Necessarily So" (George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin) 2:57
With Lucky Warren, tenor saxophone; Chauncey (Lord) Westbrook, guitar; William (Bill) Lee, bass; Belton (Sticks) Evans, drums
5. "By Myself" (J. Leslie McFarland, J. Bailey) 2:42
Working title: "(Blue) By Myself"
Recorded on November 17, 1960
With Chauncey (Lloyd) Westbrook, guitar; William (Bill) Lee, bass; Belton (Sticks) Evans, drums; Al Sears, tenor saxophone; Quentin Jackson, trombone
6. "Today I Sing the Blues" (Curtis Lewis) 2:47
Recorded on August 1, 1960
With Chauncey (Lord) Westbrook, Clifton (Skeeter) Best, guitar; William (Bill) Lee, bass; James Osie Johnson, drums; Tyree Glenn, trombone

Bonus Tracks[edit]

1. "Are You Sure (Rehearsal)" 2:17
Producer John Hammond announces the take number.
2. "Who Needs You? (Take 9)" 3:03
3. "Right Now (Take 1)" 2:13
With Aretha Franklin on piano.
4. "Maybe I'm A Fool (Take 4)" 3:57

Mono Mixes[edit]

  1. "By Myself" 2:39
  2. "Won't Be Long" 2:54
  3. "All Night Long" 3:06
  4. "Love Is The Only Thing" 2:44
  5. "Right Now" 2:22


Track Listing - 1973 Edition[edit]

Side One[edit]

1. "Won't Be Long" (J. Leslie McFarland) 3:07
Recorded on November 29, 1960
With Ray Bryant, piano; William (Bill) Lee, bass; Belton (Sticks) Evans, drums; Aretha Franklin, piano
2. "Over The Rainbow" (Harold Arlen, E.Y. Harburg) 2:35
Recorded on August 1, 1960
With Ray Bryant, piano; Chauncey (Lord) Westbrook, guitar; William (Bill) Lee, bass; Osie Johnson, drums; Tyree Glenn, trombone
3. "Love Is The Only Thing" (J. Leslie McFarland) 2:38
Recorded on August 1, 1960
With Ray Bryant, piano; Chauncey (Lord) Westbrook, guitar; William (Bill) Lee, bass; Osie Johnson, drums; Tyree Glenn, trombone
4. "Sweet Lover" (J. Leslie McFarland, Sidney Wyche) 3:19
Recorded on November 29, 1960
With Ray Bryant, piano; William (Bill) Lee, bass; Belton (Sticks) Evans, drums
5. "All Night Long" (Curtis Lewis) 2:56
Recorded on November 17, 1960
With Ray Bryant, piano; Chauncey (Lord) Westbrook, guitar; Bill Lee, bass; Belton (Sticks) Evans, drums; Al Sears, tenor saxophone; Quentin Jackson, trombone
6. "Who Needs You?" (Billie Holiday, Jeanne Burns) 2:45
Recorded on January 10, 1961
With Aretha Franklin, piano; Al Sears, tenor saxophone; Chauncey (Lloyd) Westbrook, guitar; Milton John (Milt) Hinton, bass; Belton (Sticks) Evans, drums

Side Two[edit]

1. "Right Now" (J. Leslie McFarland) 2:20
Recorded on August 1, 1960
With Clifton (Skeeter) Best, guitar; William (Bill) Lee, bass; James Osie Johnson, drums; Tyree Glenn, trombone
2. "Are You Sure" (Meredith Wilson) 2:38
From the Broadway musical production of The Unsinkable Molly Brown
Recorded on January 10, 1961
With Aretha Franklin, piano; Al Sears, tenor saxophone; Chauncey (Lord) Westbrook, guitar; Milton John (Milt) Hinton, bass; Belton (Sticks) Evans, drums
3. "Maybe I'm A Fool" (J. Leslie McFarland) 3:15
Working title: "Baby, I'm A Fool"
Recorded on January 10, 1961
With Aretha Franklin, piano; Al Sears, tenor saxophone; Chauncey (Lloyd) Westbrook, guitar; Milton John (Milt) Hinton, bass; Belton (Sticks) Evans, drums
4. "It Ain't Necessarily So" (George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin) 2:51
With Ray Bryant, piano; Warren Luckey, tenor saxophone; Chauncey (Lord) Westbrook, guitar; William (Bill) Lee, bass; Belton (Sticks) Evans, drums
5. "(Blue) By Myself" (J. Leslie McFarland, J. Bailey) 2:36
Working title: "(Blue) By Myself"
Recorded on November 17, 1960
With Ray Bryant, piano; Chauncey (Lord) Westbrook, guitar; Bill Lee, bass; Belton (Sticks) Evans, drums; Al Sears, tenor saxophone; Quentin Jackson, trombone
6. "Today I Sing the Blues" (Curtis Lewis) 2:45
Recorded on August 1, 1960
With Ray Bryant, piano; Chauncey (Lord) Westbrook, guitar; William (Bill) Lee, bass; Osie Johnson, drums; Tyree Glenn, trombone


The cover notes on this edition were written by John Hammond, October 5, 1972. Among other things he mentions that all the sides on the record were originally made as singles, primarily for the jukebox market. At the end he writes: For some strange reason, this album has always been something of a secret, and I can only hope that it gets across to a new generation of Aretha admirers. Let me hasten to add that there has been no overdubbing, rechanneling or other messing around with the pure gold of the original.