Here We Go Again: Celebrating the Genius of Ray Charles

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Here We Go Again: Celebrating the Genius of Ray Charles
Live album by Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis featuring Norah Jones
Released May 29, 2011
Recorded February 9, 2009 – February 10, 2009
Genre Rhythm & Blues, jazz, country
Length 61:49
Label Blue Note/EMI Records
50999 0 96388 2 2
B2-96388
Producer Jeff Jones, Jazz At Lincoln Center
Willie Nelson chronology
Songs for Tsunami Relief: Austin to South Asia
(2005)
Here We Go Again: Celebrating the Genius of Ray Charles
(2011)
Music sample

Here We Go Again: Celebrating the Genius of Ray Charles is a live tribute album to American singer and pianist Ray Charles, recorded by country music singer-songwriter Willie Nelson, jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, and jazz singer Norah Jones, and released in 2011. The songs were recorded during two concerts at the Rose Theater in New York City, on February 9 and 10, 2009.

The second album of Nelson and Marsalis together after their 2007 concert at Lincoln Center, it was released on May 29, 2011. The album received mixed reviews, in which the instrumentation of Marsalis' orchestra was praised by the critics.

Background and recording[edit]

Nelson and Marsalis played together for the first time in 2007 at The Allen Room in Lincoln Center, which resulted in the critically acclaimed album Two Men with the Blues, released the next year.[1][2] The album held the number one position in the Billboard Jazz Albums chart for four weeks.[3][4][5][6] Nelson and Marsalis joined again in 2009 along with Norah Jones for a series of two concerts, at the Rose Theater, on February 9 and February 10. The recordings were released on March 29, 2011.[1]

Reception[edit]

"Crying Time" from Here We Go Again: Celebrating the Genius of Ray Charles performed by Wynton Marsalis (trumpet), Willie Nelson (vocals, guitar) and Norah Jones (vocals)

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Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic (63/100)[7]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3.5/5 stars[8]
The Austin Chronicle 2/5 stars[9]
BBC Music (positive)[10]
The Daily Telegraph 4/5 stars[11]
The Jazz Line 4/5 stars[12]
Los Angeles Times 3/4 stars[13]
The New Zealand Herald 3.5/5 stars[14]
PopMatters (7/10)[15]
Rolling Stone 2.5/5 stars[16]

The Los Angeles Times's music critic rated the release with three stars out of four, and wrote: "Ray Charles surely would have admired the inventive and lively jazz-drenched arrangements accompanying many of his standards, including "Hit the Road Jack," "Busted," "Hallelujah I Love Her So," "Unchain My Heart" and "Cryin' Time."[13] Rolling Stone praised Nelson and Jones' duet on Buck Owens' "Crying Time", but criticized the abundance of solos between Nelson and Marsalis' band: "(Here We Go Again) feels like a missed opportunity. Nelson's nylon-stabbing guitar is too scarce here, giving way to Marsalis' jazz band, a slick cast that rotates solos exhaustively."[16] The Texas Monthly also criticized the arrangements: "applying Willie's offhand cool and Jones's trademark reserve to the genius's hits, particularly his blistering soul classics, makes about as much sense as asking Tony Bennett to cover the Butthole Surfers [...] Here We Go Again is full of arrangements that take the wrong fork in the road. The expert musicianship of Marsalis's working band overthinks and dulls down almost every tune."[17]

The Daily Telegraph rated it with four stars out of five. Praising Nelson, Marsalis and Jones as well as the backing band, the critic stated "They have done Ray Charles proud".[11] Meanwhile, The Austin Chronicle rated the album with two stars out of five; critic Jay Trachtenberg wrote: "Despite boasting favorites from Charles repertoire including "Cryin' Time," "Busted," and "Hit the Road Jack," this summit never clicks, perhaps a result of the one-off nature of the project making it hard for the musical personalities to fully gel".[9] The New Zealand Herald wrote: "While they may seem like a funny couple, with the deft precision and style of Marsalis seemingly at odds with Nelson's more unkempt delivery, it actually works".[14]

AllMusic wrote: "With Charles' standards like "Hallelujah I Love Her So", "Cryin' Time", "Hit the Road Jack", "Busted", "Makin' Whoopie", and his iconic signature hit, "What'd I Say" all sounding comfortable and fresh. The only thing missing is Ray Charles himself, who undoubtedly would have had no trouble fitting into these shows. Radio now splits everything into little niches. That isn't what Charles was about. He saw music as convergence. This fine concert album plays in that same spirit".[8]

(L-R) Wynton Marsalis, Willie Nelson and Norah Jones during a tour to promote Two Men with the Blues

PopMatters delivered a mixed review, praising the team of Nelson, Marsalis and Jones, but criticizing the performance of the songs, indicating that they consisted only of an all-star lineup that did not apply a new perspective to Charles' recordings: "the whole never really rises above the sum of its parts, and no one ever tries to teach us something new about these tunes. [...] Not that hearing these voices on great tunes doesn't thrill. It does. [...] What's missing is some element of risk or sacrifice".[15]

BBC Music wrote a mixed review, remarking that

"Marsalis and company don't exactly hit the bull's-eye every time on this recording of the event. And what's most apparent, sadly, is that Nelson's vocal deficiencies grow more obvious every year. Some might argue that his weathered voice has gained in character what it has lost in strength and range, but my ears tell me otherwise [...] On the plus side, the Marsalis band compensates quite adequately for occasional lacklustre vocals, navigating the various nooks and crannies of Charles' eclectic songbook with just the right combination of jazz and pop smarts. [...] Thanks largely to the instrumental work, there’s a satisfying amount of entertainment value on this release – even if major revelations are not forthcoming."[10]

The review also noted that, while Jones added "style and panache" to both jazz ("Come Rain or Come Shine", "Makin' Whoopee") and country ("Here We Go Again") songs, she sat out most rhythm and blues songs.[10]

Personnel[edit]

Musicians[edit]

  • Willie Nelson – Guitar (1–9, 12), Vocals (1, 3–9, 11, 12)
  • Wynton Marsalis – Arranger, Artistic Director, Trumpet, Vocals (6, 8, 12)
  • Norah Jones – Guest Appearance, Vocals (2, 4, 6, 9, 10, 12)
  • Dan Nimmer – Piano
  • Carlos Henríquez – Bass
  • Walter Blanding – Tenor saxophone, Vocals (6)
  • Mickey Raphael – Harmonica
  • Ali Jackson – Drums and percussion

Source: Blue Note Records[18]

Technicians[edit]

  • Executive Producer – Mark Rothbaum
  • Produced by – Jeff Jones "The Jedi Master" and Jazz at Lincoln Center
  • Recorded by – Saundra Palmer-Grassi and Rob Macomber
  • Mixed and Mastered by – Jeff Jones "The Jedi Master" at World Alert Music, NYC
  • Assisted by – Evan Manners and Joanne Levey
  • Music Copyists – Geoff Burke, Jonathan Kelly, Kate Sain
  • Music Supervisors – Kay Niewood, Christianna English

Source: Blue Note Records[18]

Arrangements by Sherman Irby (1), Richard DeRosa (2, 10), Victor Goines (3, 4), Jackson (5), Vincent Gardner (6), Marsalis (7, 11), Christopher Crenshaw (8), Andy Farber (9, 12).[19]

Chart Performance[edit]

Chart Peak
position
Billboard Jazz Albums 2[20]
Alben Top 75 (Austria) 40[21]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Hallelujah I Love Her So"   Don Lanier, Red Steagall 4:54
2. "Come Rain or Come Shine" (featuring Norah Jones) Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer 3:52
3. "Unchain My Heart"   Teddy Powell, Bobby Sharp 5:35
4. "Cryin' Time" (featuring Norah Jones) Buck Owens 4:32
5. "Losing Hand"   Charles Calhoun 5:16
6. "Hit the Road Jack" (featuring Norah Jones) Percy Mayfield 7:45
7. "I'm Moving On"   Hank Snow 5:44
8. "Busted"   Harlan Howard 3:52
9. "Here We Go Again" (featuring Norah Jones) Don Lanier, Red Steagall 5:10
10. "Makin' Whoopee" (featuring Norah Jones) Gus Kahn 4:54
11. "I Love You So Much It Hurts"   Floyd Tillman 2:52
12. "What'd I Say" (featuring Norah Jones) Ray Charles 6:11

A Barnes & Noble-exclusive edition (50999 0 26725 2 6/B2-26725) has three bonus tracks appended to the end of the album: "You Don't Know Me" (4:45), "You Are My Sunshine" (6:26), and "That's All" (6:04).

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Here We Go Again: Celebrating the Genius of Ray Charles". WillieNelson.com. Retrieved March 22, 2011. 
  2. ^ Chinen, Nate (2009-02-10). "Much Brass, a Bit of Twang and Plenty of Ray Charles". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-08-06. 
  3. ^ "Top Jazz Albums: Week of July 26, 2008". Billboard. 2008-07-26. Retrieved 2011-05-17. 
  4. ^ "Top Jazz Albums: Week of August 2, 2008". Billboard. 2008-08-02. Retrieved 2011-05-17. 
  5. ^ "Top Jazz Albums: Week of August 9, 2008". Billboard. 2008-08-09. Retrieved 2011-05-17. 
  6. ^ "Top Jazz Albums: Week of August 16, 2008". Billboard. 2008-08-16. Retrieved 2011-05-17. 
  7. ^ "Here We Go Again: Celebrating the Genius of Ray Charles". MetaCritic. Retrieved June 6, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b Leggett, Steve. Here We Go Again: Celebrating the Genius of Ray Charles at AllMusic. Retrieved June 6, 2011.
  9. ^ a b Trachtenberg, Jay (April 29, 2011). "Willie Nelson & Wynton Marsalis (Featuring Norah Jones) Here We Go Again: Celebrating the Genius of Ray Charles (Blue Note/EMI)". Austin Chronicle. Austin Chronicle Corp. Retrieved June 12, 2011. 
  10. ^ a b c Tilland, Bill (March 23, 2011). "Marsalis and Nelson join forces once more, with help from Norah Jones.". BBC Music. British Broadcast Corporation. Retrieved May 8, 2011. 
  11. ^ a b Chilton, Martin (May 17, 2011). "Here We Go Again – Celebrating the Genius Of Ray Charles, CD review". The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group Limited. Retrieved June 12, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Review: Here We Go Again – Celebrating the Genius of Ray Charles". The Jazz Line. Mersion Media. 
  13. ^ a b Lewis, Randy (March 29, 2011). "Album review: 'Here We Go Again: Celebrating the Genius of Ray Charles' with Willie Nelson & Wynton Marsalis featuring Norah Jones". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. Retrieved June 12, 2011. 
  14. ^ a b Kara, Scott (April 5, 2011). "Album Review: Willie Nelson, Wynton Marsalis featuring Norah Jones, Here We Go Again". New Zealand Herald. APN Holdings NZ Limited. Retrieved June 12, 2011. 
  15. ^ a b Layman, Will (April 1, 2011). "Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis featuring Norah Jones: Here We Go Again". PopMatters (PopMatters Media, Inc.). Retrieved May 8, 2011. 
  16. ^ a b Doyle, Patrick (April 13, 2011). "Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis". Rolling Stone (Wenner Media LLC.). Archived from the original on June 5, 2011. 
  17. ^ McCord, Jeff (April 2011). "Here We Go Again: Celebrating the Genius of Ray Charles". Texas Monthly (Emmis Publishing LP). Retrieved May 8, 2011. 
  18. ^ a b Here We Go Again: Celebrating the Genius of Ray Charles (booklet). Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis featuring Norah Jones. New York City: Blue Note Records. 2011. p. 4. 509990 96388 2 2. 
  19. ^ Here We Go Again: Celebrating the Genius of Ray Charles (booklet). Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis featuring Norah Jones. New York City: Blue Note Records. 2011. pp. 2–3. 509990 96388 2 2. 
  20. ^ "Here We Go Again Celebrating The Genius of Ray Charles: Charts & Awards". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved June 12, 2011. 
  21. ^ "Willie Nelson & Wynton Marsalis FFeaturing Norah Jones – Here We Go Again:Celebrating the Genius of Ray Charles (Album)". Austrian Charts.at (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved June 12, 2011.