Ray Sings, Basie Swings – Ray Charles, Count Basie Orchestra | CD review

(Concord) 3 stars

Ray Charles never performed with Count Basie, but his arrangements were strongly influenced by Basie and at times his band featured Basie sidemen.

`Ray Sings, Basie Swings’ (Concord) isolates Ray’s vocals from ’70s concert tapes and sets them to new studio arrangements with the current Basie band and Raelettes’ harmonies.

Purists may flinch, but this techno creation does grow on you. Before his death, Charles appeared on Tony Bennett’s `Playin’ With My Friends’ in 2001 and the crooner has since segued to `Duets: An American Classic’ (Sony/BMG), a stylish 80th birthday session reprising old hits in new settings.

Recalled from `Friends’ are Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, Diana Krall, k.d.lang and producer Phil Ramone, plus newcomers Barbra Streisand, Paul McCartney, James Taylor, Sting, Michael Buble and (on the Oz version) Delta Goodrem.

Standouts include a breezy `Lullaby of Broadway’ with the Dixie Chicks and genial `Rags to Riches’ featuring Elton John.

- Mike Daly

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