Written by
Bob Stumpel

October 12

The River Charles

'89 FI LimitUpUnreleased

Uncertain title; unreleased.

In 1989 Ray Charles had a role (as God, or as the archangel Julius*) in the movie Limit up (MCEG 0970449925). At the end of the film (“under the titles”) he played a long solo on his alto, starting at 1:25 in the clip below.

Clipping from Jet, 30 October 1989.

Rich Martini informed me that “Ray Charles plays God*, a sax player who stands in front of the CBOT, and depending if you tip him or not, that’s how well you’re going to do that day. Its subplot is ending world hunger through manipulating soybean prices.”

* God? Ray’s character is called Julius. In publicity materials I saw, his role is labeled as “archangel Julius”. After seeing the film, I’m still not sure what I saw.

Martini also let me know that Ray’s character was based on a guy he saw outside the Board of Trade in Chigago, who played the sax and wore shades.
“Ray said, ‘I can play, I’ll play the sax’. So that’s him playing. In the scene where Sally Kellerman is singing, it was part of an overall tune that John Tesh recorded, so he replaced Ray so it was in tune. But otherwise, that’s Ray on saxophone. […] Ray outside was recorded on set, we only had him 3 days. Inside is not Ray, just the last few notes which oddly were in the same key as the score. Ray just improvised. if you hear a sax with no other music, that’s Ray, the rest revoiced.”

It’s unclear to me if Ray’s theme was formally composed and if it had a title (but if it did, The River Charles would be a good candidate).

The whole movie (director’s cut):


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