Ray Charles Live In Mexico, singing Cherry (1975)
After a Japan tour in November (leading to the famous live album) and a stop in Honolulu on 2 December, the Ray Charles group played a concert in Mexico City, on 6 and 7 December 1975, at the Teatro Degollado. Friends of trumpet player Jack Evans, who were in the audience, taped a magnificent version of Cherry during one of these concerts, the Ray Gilbert/Don Redman tune, which until now was only known from the 1961 album Dedicated To You.
The tape is of low audio quality (the instruments recorded decently, Ray’s voice sounding very distant), but has great documentary value. As compared to the lush studio version (arranged by Marty Paich), the rendition in Mexico was remarkably simple, slow and bluesy. Ray, playing the piano in his best Nat Cole style, was only backed by his rhythm section*, and asked Clifford ‘Cap’ Solomon to fill in a marvelous half chorus on alto. Ray kept the little joke at the end of the original version in tact.
* As Evans remembers it: Scott von Ravensburg – drums; Ernest Vantrease on electric piano; possibly Cliff Hugo on bass.