Ray Charles

The Early Years [Zeta]

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This fine chronicle of Charles' early years (1947-1951) finds the future soul originator waxing jazzy and urbane on 19 cuts that show the early influence of both Nat "King" Cole and Charles Brown. Recently arrived from the South, Charles settled in Seattle during most of the stretch covered here, working in various bands and recording for the Swingtime/Downbeat label. Beyond being just some sort of carbon copy of Cole and Brown, Charles shows a deft hand here with the pop end of the after-hours spectrum, while also peppering some of the performances with the gospel verve that would someday be his calling card. A worthwhile disc for dedicated Ray Charles fans and followers of R&B history.

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