Ray Charles

Ô-Genio: Live in Brazil, 1963 [DVD]

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AllMusic Review by

Though the camera work and image preservation aren't ideal, this DVD is nevertheless a remarkable document of Ray Charles in his prime, performing live on Brazilian TV in 1963. With a small snazzy big band and backup singers the Raelettes in tow, Charles presented material including big rock & roll hits ("What'd I Say," "Hit the Road Jack," "Hallelujah I Love Her So," "Don't Set Me Free"); standards ("You Are My Sunshine," "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny," "My Bonnie"); country (his then-recent hits "I Can't Stop Loving You" and "You Don't Know Me"); and both vocal and instrumental jazz. While the relatively primitive production values are occasionally betrayed by shaky camera framing, it's a pretty straightforward and highly watchable black-and-white presentation, the highlights being those spots where the Raelettes wail in Charles' support (although this live arrangement of "Hit the Road Jack," oddly, sounds tamer and inferior to the famous studio hit version). Rock and R&B fans might be a little disappointed by the absence of some of his harder-driving classics like "I Got a Woman," and the slight lean of the set toward more pop and jazz than some might expect. Too, there's a good amount of repetition, with two versions apiece of seven of the numbers. It's a valuable and highly entertaining program in all, however, the period-feel enhanced by the inclusion (in Portuguese) of several commercials from the original broadcast.

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