Jack Sheldon: Ray Charles Profile


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In May 1961, Jack Sheldon recorded what today is one of his rarest and most interesting albums—A Jazz Profile of Ray Charles (Reprise). Over two days, the West Coast trumpeter recorded with a trio—Marty Paich (p, org), Joe Mondragon (b) and John Markham (d). The album came out in July, with Charles writing the back-jacket notes.

The songs on the album are Am I Blue?, Georgia on My Mind, When Your Lover Has Gone, Cherry, Come Rain or Come Shine, Just for a Thrill, Moonlight in Vermont, One Mint Julep, Rosetta, Basin Street Blues, There Is NoYou and 'Deed I Do.

What's interesting about this album is how much air Sheldon puts through his horn and how ruminative his playing is to take on Charles's singing voice. Also terrific is Paich's quirky organ, which seems set to sound like Charles' organ on Genius + Soul = Jazz, released two months earlier. Paich plays almost as if the organ is an accordion, sustaining chords until his fingers most seamlessly on to the next one.

Paich in 1961 was arranging for Sammy Davis Jr., Mavis Rivers, Ann Margret, Frances Faye and Ray Charles. During this period, drummer Markham recorded live with Benny Goodman and Frank Sinatra and was in the studio with Al Hibbler. As for bassist Mondragon, he was on Paich's recordings with Sammy Davis and Ann Margret and well as recordings by Johnny Williams, Bob Cooper, Pete Rugolo, Ella Fitzgerald, Shorty Rogers and Claude Williamson.

For those who dig Sheldon, this is an opportunity to hear him out in the open, with just a supportive trio.

Sadly, this album has not yet been re-issued on CD and is available only on vinyl for steep prices. Perhaps a label will issue it on CD and download with another rare Sheldon album.

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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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