Recorded Live at Jazz at Lincoln Center s Frederick P. Rose Hall on February 10, 2009
Once in a while the stars align and something magical happens...as on the night Jazz at Lincoln Center presented a salute to the late, great bluesman, Ray Charles. Two musical iconoclasts, Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis, along with the stunning songstress Norah Jones, collectively brought their unique musical perspective to the legendary artist s hits such as Hallelujah I Love Her So, Hit the Road Jack, and Unchain My Heart. The evening s musicians are supported by insightful and vibrant performances from saxaphonist Walter Blanding, pianist Dan Nimmer, bassist Carlos Henriquez, drummer Ali Jackson, and harmonica great Mickey Raphael.
WILLIE NELSON AND WYNTON MARSALIS PLAY THE MUSIC OF RAY CHARLES gives music lovers a front-row seat to the sold-out concert in New York City at Rose Theater, including rehearsal footage, exclusive interviews and photos.
BONUS FEATURES: All Access Behind-the-Scenes Documentary; Photo Gallery
Most of the material is familiar ("Hallelujah I Love Her So," "Hit the Road Jack," "Crying Time," "Busted," "What'd I Say," "Unchain My Heart"), but there are a few surprises, like the deep blues "Losing Hand." And while the songs are performed more or less in Charles's style, the arrangements, many of them with a New Orleans flavor, are uniformly fresh and dynamic, leading to some transcendent performances. Marsalis's solos are brilliant, combining chops, taste, and humor, and in the band saxophonist Walter Blanding and drummer Ali Jackson are particularly good, although everyone's at the top of their game.
If there's a weak link here, it's Nelson, whose laid-back singing never comes close to generating the passion of Brother Ray's. In fairness, no one else's does, either. But ol' Willie tends to play fast and loose with the melodies, flattening them out to limited variations on the blues, and his guitar playing, while soulful, just can't measure up to the great musicians around him. Jones is frustratingly laid-back as well; her duets with Nelson will remind no one of the incendiary duels between Charles and Margie Hendricks. In fact, it's Marsalis, never known as a vocalist, who provides the hottest moments at the mike. Bonus material includes a behind-the-scenes featurette. --Sam Graham