Written by
Bob Stumpel

December 7

Ray Charles Starring In Portofino Porto D’Arte (1995) And A Song That Was Never Released

'95 LC PortofinoConcert 1995 Portofino

On 14 July 1995 Ray Charles played with his Orchestra and The Raelettes at the Piazzetta, part of the local harbor’s quay, in Portofino. The (voice over) comments were delivered by Amii Stewart and Ezio Guaitamacchi, both taking the liberty to sometimes speak through the music. One source specified that Amii Stewart also did a duet with Ray, but in the tape that I saw she could only be seen on stage (at the end) for a solo performance, and (in the middle) for an unusual interruption of the show, introducing Ray to a representative of Motorola, who honored the Genius with an utterly vague award. Barbara Morrison opened the show, but didn’t make it to my video copy.
Ray was escorted to and from the stage by an entourage of around 12 broad shouldered people, amongst whom 3 or 4 street cops and a richly uniformed police chief, leading the parade both times, stood out.
The show, presented (i.e. probably sponsored?) by Portofino Porto D’Arte, was directed by Gabriele Cazzola. The stage had a big sign with the text (possibly of a bigger festival) “Hello America”.
The TV program aired on the 16th on Canale 5, being announced as “the event of the season”, with an audience of 5 million, and “over one hundred television commercials” [sic!] sold by Canale 5-owner Fininvest.

La Stampa wrote that the concert coincided with the release of Ray’s “latest album”, which was to contain O Sole Mio, recently produced in LA and Milan with Patrone Gennaro, Salvatore and Nunzio Esposito Reinathe, the mandolin section of Renzo Arbore’s The Italian Orchestra. Supposedly, the track was even to be released “in May” as a single (cf. this). But to my knowledge the tune never reached the market (also cf. this).

More reviews and a very brief interview can be found here and here (“Triumphal entry […] dazzling smile, a pair of avant garde design spectacles […], an incredible floral tuxedo”).

Roger Ingram, Kurt Weiss, Dave Hoffman, Ken Scharf – trumpets; Steve Sigmund, Michael Guerrier, Dupor Georges, Charlie Schofner – trombones; Steve Elliott, Al Jackson, – alto saxophone; Al Waters, Rudy Johnson – tenor saxophone; James Farnsworth – bariton saxophone; Ernest Vantrease – keyboeards; Steve Gregory – guitar; Curtis Ohlson – bass; Peter Turre – drums; The Raelettes (Renee Georges, Stella Yarborough, Tonette McKinney, Elaine Woodard, Angie Workman) – backing vocals.
*Listing by Steve Sigmund.

The song list was:

  1. Intro RC
  2. Riding Thumb
  3. Busted
  4. Georgia On My Mind
  5. Oh, What A Beautiful Morning
  6. How Long Has This Been Going On
  7. Teardrops From My Eyes
  8. Angelina
  9. Blues For Big Scotia
  10. A Song For You
  11. Introduction Raelettes (by RC)
  12. Interruption: Motorola Award
  13. Shameless (Estella Yarbrough)
  14. I Can’t Stop Loving You
  15. Smack Dab In The Middle
  16. I’m Gonna Keep On Singin’
  17. What’d I Say
  18. O Sole Mio
  19. Outro



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