Featuring a very rare 1963 performance of Ray Charles in Sao Paulo, Brazil, recorded one day before his 33rd birthday, the concert material showcased on this disc is a remarkable find. Beyond its historical significance, the video provides enormous pleasure: we get to see and hear Ray, the Genius (O-Genio means "The Genius" in Portuguese), at his absolute best, exactly as it was shown then, complete with Brazilian commercials.
O Genio: Live in Brazil 1963
is a fairly astonishing document, and an invaluable addition to the catalog of one the great artists of the 20th Century. Here's Ray Charles, "O Genio" ("The Genius" in Portuguese), 32 years old and in his absolute prime, a few years after he essentially "invented" soul music with his classic Atlantic Records recordings and just a year after he'd transformed popular music again with Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music
. The DVD finds Charles and his orchestra performing two full sets in Sao Paulo; both are in black and white and contain many of the same songs (although for some reason the sound and visual quality of the first set is far superior to that of the second). And what songs they are. When a guy opens his set with one of his biggest hits, "What'd I Say," you know you're in for something special. And Charles doesn't disappoint, drawing on the all aspects of his repertoire, including some C&W (only Ray Charles could turn the hokey "You Are My Sunshine" into a funky, swinging affair), blues ("In the Evening (When the Sun Goes Down)"), and jazz ("Birth of a Band" and Bobby Timmons's classic "Moanin'," both instrumentals, are among the highlights), in addition to "Hit the Road Jack," Hallelujah I Love Her So," and other Charles standards. The band includes saxophonist David "Fathead" Newman and Margie Hendrix, perhaps the greatest Raelette of all, but the star of this show is Ray Charles, and O Genio: Live in Brazil 1963
is a wonderful opportunity to experience the master at work. --Sam Graham