Ray Charles, Genius, a sixteen episode video podcast series produced by Bret Primack for Concord Records, is now showing on YouTube and is available for download on iTunes. The debut episode is entitled: There is Only One Ray Charles.
A comprehensive examination of the musical life of Ray Charles, each episode is devoted to a specific recording or critical aspect of his music, focusing on his influences, recording techniques, live appearances, small group and big band, and the Raeletts.
The series coincides with Concord’s digital release of 28 Ray Charles recordings, as well as the CD reissue of several Charles' classics, including A Message From the People , a Deluxe 50th Anniversary Expanded Edition of Genius + Soul = Jazz, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Vols. 1&2, and Genius Hits the Road.
Filmmaker Bret Primack travelled around the country this spring conducting interviews with: Trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, the only surviving member of Ray’s early seven piece band; Trombonist Steve Turre, who played with Ray’s big band in the 70s; Trombonist/Arranger Tom Malone, who played with Ray on Saturday Night Live, and in the film, The Blues Brothers; Percussionist/Producer Gregg Field, who also played drums with Ray’s big band in the 70s and later produced Ray Sings, Basie Swings; Pianist/Composer Victor Vanacore, who was Ray’s conductor for the last fifteen years of his life; Vocalist Angela Workman, a Raelett; and Composer/Arranger Mike Post who worked with Ray on A Message From The People.
Primack also spoke with Newport Jazz Festival founder George Wein, Jazz writers Ira Gitler and Dan Morgenstern, pianist Billy Taylor who knew Ray Charles when he first arrived in New York in the mid-50s, and John Burk, who produced Genius Loves Company, recorded just before Ray Charles died in 2004. I was lucky to speak with people who knew Ray at the beginning, and in his later years, as well," Primack explains.
“I also sought the perspective of listeners, so I spoke with several serious Ray Charles fans,” Primack reports. “I got expert testimony from two multi-talented composer/musicians Leon Ware and Al Kooper, and one surprise, Rep. John Conyers.” Primack encountered the Congressman at Bert’s, a Detroit club, where Marcus Belgrave was performing.
Ray Charles, Genius, is being produced with the cooperation of Tony Gumina, who heads up The Ray Charles Marketing Group, and Valerie Ervin, the President of the Ray Charles Foundation. “Tony and Valerie worked very closely with Ray in his later years so their perspective and assistance on this project has been invaluable.”
While posting episodes bi-weekly, Primack is concurrently producing a “Filmmaker’s Blog,” which will accompany each podcast. He explains that the video blog is like “the extras on a DVD, content that enhances the actual presentations." View the debut episode of the series, Ray Charles, Genius.
Subscribe to the series on iTunes.
Coming June 17th: An American Classic: Ray Charles - Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music
For more information, please contact: Bret Primack - [email protected]