Ray Charles In Paris (1963)
From 22 to 28 May 1963 Ray Charles was back at the Olympia Theater for a new series of concerts*. For all seven days the venue was totally sold out. “Members of the Hot Club de France distributed pink fliers at the theater hailing Mr. Charles as a true jazz artist in the tradition of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington,” the New York Times’ Paris correspondent reported on 24 May.
|Band leader and trumpet player Wallace
Davenport, Ray Charles, and Vic Ash.
David Fathead Newman was missing in the Orchestra’s line-up. He had been arrested for drug possession a few days before by the British police. Later that week he joined the group again in Paris, but he didn’t make it to the concerts because his place in the band was already taken by an English sub on tenor saxophone: Vic Ash, the first white cat ever to play in Ray’s band (don’t miss his autobiography, I Blew It My Way).
Phil Guilbeau, on trumpet of course, had to fill in Fathead’s flute parts on Georgia On My Mind.
Some TV footage of the 1963 French tour has survived; see this.
One or more of the concerts were aired by Europe 1, and were captured on tape. As it looks now, the following tunes have survived (in poor to reasonably fair quality):
- Flying Home (Ray Charles Orchestra)
- Unidentified instrumental (alto solo by Ray Charles)
- Let The Good Times Roll
- You Don’t Know Me
- Hide Nor Hair
- In The Evening (When The Sun Goes Down)
- Careless Love
- Don’t Set Me Free (ft. Margie Hendricks)
- My Bonnie
- Georgia On My Mind (Phil Guilbeau – tp)
- Just A Little Lovin’
- Unchain My Heart
- My Baby (I Love Her, Yes I Do) (ft. Margie Hendricks)
- Hit The Road Jack
- You Are My Sunshine
In this case the numbers, of course, do not represent any setlist order. Flying Home (#1) is the tune written by Lionel Hampton, Benny Goodman and Eddie DeLange; this is the only known live version by the Ray Charles band. Tune #2 is the same unidentified composition as known from the 1963 O Gênio concerts in São Paulo (i.e. #15 in this article).
As I write this, #7 (a splendid 9-minute long In The Evening), #10 (Don’t Set Me Free), and #17 (You Are My Sunshine) are the earliest known recorded live versions of these songs.
|The band in Paris, 1963.
Read this for the story behind this photo.
Musicians: Wallace Davenport (band leader), Oliver Beener, Phil Guilbeau, John Hunt – trumpets; Henderson Chambers, James Lee Harbert, Keg Johnson, Julian Priester – trombones; Hank Crawford, Buddy Pearson – alto saxophones); Vic Ash, James Clay – tenor saxophones; Leroy Cooper – baritone saxophone; Wilbert Hogan – drums; Sonny Forriest – guitar; Edgar Willis – bass. The Raelettes: Gwen Berry, Margie Hendricks, Pat Moseley Lyles, Darlene McCrea.
*Special thanks to Joël Dufour for many details in this article.