Ray Charles’ Christmas Special In Tokyo (1990)
|This poster may be from the
Japan (and Hong Kong?) tour
After touring the world – including Japan, in October 1990 – with B.B. King and the Philip Morris Superband, Ray returned to Japan with his own band and The Raelettes only two months later for a series of 11 concerts (including 3 “dinner shows”).
One of these dinner shows was labeled as a Christmas concert – a feat that by that time had become an almost yearly tradition for the Ray Charles group.
When I first posted about the six clips embedded below, I guessed that the concert might have entailed a few more tunes, like the never missing I Can’t Stop Loving You, and Ray’s ‘Japanese hit’ Ellie, My Love.
These were indeed part of the concert, but after watching the integral TV program, titled Ray Charles In Japan – Christmas Special*, it turns out to have been one of the most extensive Ray Charles shows that was ever televized.
The program no doubt was aired shortly before Christmas. The video didn’t have any credits or station logo. The event took place in Takanawa, in a rather sterile hall, with an almost silent audience, sitting at dinner tables. But Ray (radiating energy throughout the concert, and with a flawless rendition of She Knows), the Orchestra (with a sparkling set of instrumentals, and marvelous solos), and The Raelettes (with a great version of Giving Up by Trudy Cohran) were in great shape that night.
The tracklist** was:
- Sister Sadie (Ray Charles Orchestra) (solos by Jeff Kaye – tp; Jeff Alkire – bs)
- The Team (Ray Charles Orchestra) (solos by Rudy Johnson – ts; Jeff Kaye – fh; David Rokeach – d)
- Everybody’s Blues (Ray Charles Orchestra) (solos Jeff Kaye, Ted Murdock – tp; Ernest Vantrease – kb; Kenny Carr – g; Benoït Grey – b)
- Horns In Minor (Ray Charles Orchestra) (solo by Marc Fields – tb)
- Spain (Ray Charles Orchestra) (solos by Jeff Kaye – tp; Craig Bailey – as)
- Then We’ll Be Home (Sadies Tune)
- Georgia On My Mind
- Mississippi Mud
- Just For A Thrill
- Teardrops From My Eyes
- Ellie, My Love
- I Feel So Bad
- If You Wouldn’t Be My Lady
- She Knows
- Chain Of Fools (The Raelettes)
- Giving Up (ft Trudy Cohran)
- Smack Dab In The Middle
- I Can’t Stop Loving You
- Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
- What’d I Say
- Outro (1)
- The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)
- Outro (2)
The show started with 5 instrumentals by the Orchestra. The biggest surprise of this show was in the end, where The Genius sang two Christmas songs (#21 and #24), the only known live recorded versions of these tunes with the Ray Charles Orchestra.
At three instances the footage of the show was interrupted by pre-recorded interview sequences (in which Ray revealed how he always loved celebrating Christmas with his kids, went through his “I’m just a utility man” routine, and shared his also frequently published plans to spend the rest of his life just making more music, and coaching young talent).
Musicians: Chuck Parrish, Jeff Kaye, Ted Murdock, Kenny Rampton – trumpets; Steve Sigmund, Mike Guerrier, Marc Fields, Wayne Coniglio – trombones; Craig Bailey, Al Jackson, Rudy Johnson, Al Waters, Jeff Alkire – saxophones; David Rokeach – drums; Kenny Carr – guitar; Benoît Grey – bass; Ernest Vantrease – organ. The Raelettes: Angie Workman, Valerie Washington, Estella Yarbrough, Kay Nickerson, Trudy Cohran.
* Many thanks to Hector Tarín. ** Solos attributed by Jeff Helgesen and David Hoffman.
Of one of the earlier concerts during this Japan tour a board mix has survived. I have listened to a duet by Ray and Angie Workman, on Baby It’s Cold Outside.
The complete show:
Then We’ll Be Home (Sadies Tune):
Georgia On My Mind:
Just For A Thrill:
Feel So Bad:
What’d I Say + Outro (if loading too slow, go directly to source):