The Genius Sings the Blues

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The Genius Sings the Blues
Compilation album by Ray Charles
Released October 1961
Recorded 1952–1960
Genre Rhythm and blues, piano blues, soul
Length 34:19
Label Atlantic
SD-8052
Producer Ahmet Ertegün, Jerry Wexler
Ray Charles chronology
Ray Charles and Betty Carter
(1961)
The Genius Sings the Blues
(1961)
Soul Meeting
(1961)
Alternative cover
Atlantic Masters reissue cover
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
Blender 5/5 stars[2]
eMusic 5/5 stars[3]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars[4]

The Genius Sings the Blues is an album by Ray Charles, released in October 1961 on Atlantic Records.[5] The album was his last release for Atlantic, but one of his most memorable, compiling twelve blues songs from various sessions during his tenure for the label. The album showcases Charles's stylistic development with a combination of piano blues, jazz, and southern R&B. The photo for the album cover was taken by renowned photographer Lee Friedlander. The Genius Sings the Blues was reissued in 2003 by Rhino Entertainment with liner notes by Billy Taylor.

Background[edit]

Hailing from Greenville, Florida, Ray Charles assimilated much of the Southern black man's musical heritage with its various blues stories, folk songs, and gospel revelations.[6] Charles studied music at a school for blind children in St. Augstine and developed a characteristic modern jazz style of playing and writing by listening to Art Tatum, Nat "King" Cole, Bud Powell, Oscar Peterson, and other contemporaries who played in the styles fashionable around the time Charles moved to Seattle.[6] He molded many disparate musical elements into a style with unique harmony and traditional rhythmic patterns.[6]

Music[edit]

Jazz composer Billy Taylor further discussed Charles' innovative music and his reaction to hearing it:

While playing through some new music for a projected Ruth Brown record date, I was asked to listen to an original song played and sung by a young composer and pianist from Seattle, Washington. I can still remember how surprised I was to hear this kind of music from a Northwesterner. He reminded me of Charles Brown, another pianist-singer who was very popular in the Forties, but he had a very personal sound and there was something different about his rhythmic approach. In his handling of melody he seemed to be using devices similar to those used by Dinah Washington and a small group of popular singers who allowed their gospel singing backgrounds to influence their interpretation of popular songs... I was intrigued by the emotional quality projected by both his piano playing and his unusual voice and was not surprised when Ahmet Ertegün said that he wanted to let the young musician record some of his own material. "He communicates just like the old blues singers", Ahmet said.[6]

The innovation of Ray Charles is presented on this compilation LP. The Blues finds Charles delivering wailing and emotional numbers ("Hard Times", "Night Time Is the Right Time") to uptempo arrangements of country blues ("I'm Movin' On", "Early in the Mornin'"). Covering ground from his first session for Atlantic ("The Midnight Hour") to his last ("I Believe to My Soul"), The Genius Sings the Blues began as a simple cash-in LP after Charles' split from Atlantic Records and ended up as one of Charles' most well-known compilations.[6]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Ray Charles, except where noted.[7]

Side one[edit]

  1. "Early in the Mornin'" (Hickman, Jordan, Bartley) – 2:48
  2. "Hard Times (No One Knows Better Than I)" – 2:56
  3. "The Midnight Hour" (Sweet) – 3:02
  4. "(Night Time Is) The Right Time" (Brown, Cadena, Herman) – 3:25 (Hickman, Jordan, Bartley) – 2:48
  5. "Feelin' Sad" (Jones) – 2:50
  6. "Ray's Blues" – 2:55

Side two[edit]

  1. "I'm Movin' On" (Snow) – 2:13
  2. "I Believe to My Soul" – 3:01
  3. "Nobody Cares" – 2:41
  4. "Mr. Charles' Blues" – 2:48
  5. "Some Day Baby" – 3:01
  6. "I Wonder Who" – 2:46

Personnel[edit]

Side 1, Track 1 - Marcus Belgrave, John Hunt (trumpet) David Newman (tenor saxophone) Bennie Crawford (baritone saxophone) Ray Charles (piano, organ, vocals) Edgar Willis (bass) Teagle Fleming (drums). Recorded NYC, October 28, 1958

Side 1, Track 2 - Joe Bridgewater, Riley Webb (trumpet) David Newman (alto, baritone saxophone) Don Wilkerson (tenor saxophone) Ray Charles (piano, vocals) Roosevelt Sheffield (bass) William Peeples (drums). Recorded Miami, FL, April 23, 1955

Side 1, Track 4 - Marcus Belgrave, John Hunt (trumpet) David Newman (tenor saxophone) Bennie Crawford (baritone saxophone) Ray Charles (piano, organ, vocals) Edgar Willis (bass) Teagle Fleming (drums). Recorded NYC, October 28, 1958

Chart history[edit]

Album
Year Chart Peak position[8]
1962 U.S. Pop Albums chart #73

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Allmusic review
  2. ^ Blender review
  3. ^ "eMusic review". 
  4. ^ Rolling Stone review
  5. ^ allmusic ((( The Genius Sings the Blues > Overview ))). All Media Guide, LLC. Retrieved on August 24, 2008.
  6. ^ a b c d e Taylor (2003), pp. 1-3.
  7. ^ Billboard.com - Discography - Ray Charles - The Genius Sings the Blues. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved on August 24, 2008.
  8. ^ allmusic ((( The Genius Sings the Blues > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums ))). All Media Guide, Inc. Retrieved on August 13, 2008.

References[edit]

  • The Genius Sings the Blues album liner notes by Billy Taylor. Atlantic Recording Corp. 

External links[edit]