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24 April 2010

Ray Charles Ft. In Evening At Pops (1980, 1987)

Ray Charles performed twice in Evening at Pops: the first was taped in the spring (probably May) of 1980, and first aired on 27 (and 30) July 1980, and the second time on 20 June 1987.
The Evening at Pops is one of the longest running programs on PBS, launched shortly after the Public Broadcasting Service began operation in 1969. "The heat was on to include a broad entertainment show, kind of a public television version of a variety show, hosted by a world-class orchestra instead of a pit band." Conceived as fresh, new programming for summer, the first 12 programs included everyone from country singer Chet Atkins to jazz pianist George Shearing; Senator Edward Kennedy narrating Aaron Copland's A Lincoln Portrait to the New York Rock & Roll Ensemble; and the cast of Sesame Street.
Evening At Pops programs are taped before live audiences in Boston's Symphony Hall during special sessions. Each program is then assembled from elements of the taping sessions and other footage such as film clips or segments taped outside the hall.

In 1980 Ray's part entailed 25 minutes with:
  1. Georgia On My Mind
  2. Take These Chains From My Heart
  3. She Knows
  4. Talkin' With Brother Ray
  5. For Mamma
Clipping from Jet, 20 August 1981.
Peter Turre recollects: "John Williams was the conductor, and it was a big deal - he was new, and he was inviting in more contemporary guys like Ray than Arthur Feidler had [...]. Curtis Ohlson, who left the band after the 1980 break to join Buddy Rich, was on bass. [...]. We only played 2 or 3 tunes [actually #3 and #4, BS], one of which was a little jazz ditty by ourselves w/o the symphony [orchestra], that Ray made up at rehearsal, and Curtis played the head on bass that I remember to this day."
This was the one and only time that Talkin' With Brother Ray was performed.
PBS presented the show in a typical Sunday-morning-classical-music-TV-program mode, with a heavy voice-over dutifully naming all composers, lyricists and soloists for every tune. The typical symphony audience added to the same - comical - flavor, as dutifully reading their program brochures before and after every tune.

Georgia (21:23):
video

The second show with Ray was a presentation that focused on jazz, folk, and popular standards. Photo of rehearsals are here.
The Paley Center seems to have archived (parts of?) the (first or both?) Boston concert(s?).

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