“America The Beautiful” The Ray Charles Way

After he heard the Eddie Higgins solo on “America The Beautiful” (one exhibit below), Rifftides reader Terence Smith wrote to suggest:

Sometime on the 4th let’s all listen to the Ray Charles version.

That’s a fine idea. There are several versions of the song by Charles, some more musically successful than others, none more touching than this performance at the 2001 World Series, less than three years before he died.

To all Americans at home and abroad, and to all friends of America, Happy 4th of July.

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    • Doug Ramsey says

      Hundreds of times, Bill. I couldn’t find a way to embed it, but this is a link that will take Rifftides readers to the track.

      The entire 1976 album, Al Cohn’s America—with Barry Harris, Sam Jones and Leroy Williams—is included in this CD reissue, along with Cohn’s Play It Now, another of his essential Xanadu LPs.

  1. says

    Yeah, I not only heard Al play it, I was on drums behind him when he did it, at least on the concert we did at the University of Maine in Portland back in 1977. Al was there as guest artist to kick off world- renowned photographer and jazz critic Herb Snitzer’s “Jazz on the Waterfront” series. Herb would bring in guest artists I knew and or had worked with in N.Y. City, and they would perform with a quartet I put together using local and Boston-based musicians to back the visiting guests.

    Chet Baker always told me that he liked Al because of his big fat warm sound. Chet and I agreed that Al could swing hard, too.

  2. Peter Levin says

    One more version to note–George Adams’, on America, his 1990 Blue Note release, on which (backed by Hugh Lawson, Cecil McBee and Mark Johnson), the ex-Mingus and Adams-Pullen tenor sax/flute player also tackles a host of other Americana and pulls off an unaccompanied version of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”