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Written by
Bob Stumpel

December 22

Uroš Perić Shines On Have A Merry Christmas!

Within a year or so after Ray Charles passed away, two things happened that would help a lot to soften the pain and fill the emptiness his death left behind in the hearts and souls of his fans. Firstly, YouTube was founded, slowly but surely opening up a plethora of Brother Ray’s live performances – over the past years 250 TV performances and close to 200 of his live concerts have emerged.

Secondly, Uroš Perić, a singer / songwriter / keyboardist / arranger from Slovenia, couldn’t suppress his urge to keep the Genius’ music alive in the 21st century. Not by imitating Brother Ray, but by meticulously studying all these live materials, and by re-interpreting Ray’s own re-interpretations of the American Songbook and the Ray Charles Songbook.

Listening to Uroš newest album, Have A Merry Christmas, your first realization of course will be that the similarities between Ray’s and Uroš’ voices are indeed downright stunning. But that shouldn’t close your ears for how Uroš has mastered the idioms of the jazz and blues piano. And how, just like Ray, Perić is consistently collaborating with great musicians – in combos, small bands, big bands and symphony orchestras – reconstructing or recreating the best possible arrangements, and thus becoming one of the very few modern balladeers to keep alive a broad spectrum from the 20th century’s orchestral traditions of jazz, rhythm and blues and pop ballads.
A lush live TV-show aired by RTV Slovenia in 2016* was so successful that they decided to invite Perić, his Pearlettes, the RTV symphony orchestra, RTV big band, RTV youth choir and the Pearlettes back to their audio studio in Ljubljana, to record this CD, showcasing (mostly) the same repertoire.
In his lifetime Ray Charles performed many of the tunes on this CD (but the Genius never studio-recorded his magnificent rendition of Merry Christmas Baby). Perić also included three of his own songs, and a great version of Heaven Help Us All.

It’s easy to imagine what Brother Ray’s own comment would have been after hearing this great new Christmas album:  “Uroš has taken some of the things that he has heard over the years from me and put himself into it. He made it fresh. I like that! And by the way, that rendition of Merry Christmas Baby may be better than Charles Brown’s original; and it certainly is better than mine!”**

Uroš Perić, Have A Merry Christmas (RTV SLO 114816, 2017).
For sale through this webshop (11 euro); also available soon via iTunes and other streaming services.

Merry Christmas Baby (CD)
Merry Christmas Baby (2016, live)
Heaven Help Us All (2016, live)

I’ve contributed parts of the text above to the liner notes of Have A Merry Christmas.
* All or most video tracks are currently on Youtube.
** The first part of this ‘quote’ actually is an almost literal paraphrase of what Ray once said about Joe Cocker.


jamesblackbird — 2017-12-24 08:35:10

I Love!

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