Ray Charles, Slow

Ray Charles '74There seems to be a Ray Charles aura abroad in 2014; several Rifftides readers have called my attention to a remarkable 1974 performance by Charles, his band and the Raelets. The headline on the clip reads, Ray Charles Plays the Slow Blues in Madrid.

“Slow” doesn’t begin to describe the tempo. At roughly 30 beats to the minute, a 12-bar chorus takes about a minute and a half. But that’s not the point. The point is the depth of Charles’s distillation of blues feeling. Be sure to stay for the other-worldly coda that he coaxes out of his Fender-Rhodes.

The acoustic pianist behind Charles was Ernie Vantrease. The guitarist is not identified.

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  1. Peter Levin says

    According to the Ray Charles video museum (a pretty remarkable project itself), Tony Mathews was the guitarist, and the concert actually took place on May 13, 1975. This clip and others from the same concert (including the entire performance) can be found here:


    During this period, Charles’s band included Johnny Coles on trumpet (though he did not perform at this concert) and James Clay on tenor.

    • David Perrine says

      In 1975 Charles produced an instrumental jazz album featuring members of the band and using arrangements by Alf Clausen, Jimmy Heath, and Roger Neumann. The trumpet solos are split between Coles and Philip Guilbeau, and the tenor solos between Clay and Andrew Ennis. This excellent album was originally on vinyl as “My Kind of Jazz Part 3,” but was reissued on the expanded two disk edition of Genius + Soul = Jazz.