O-Genio: Live In Brazil, 1963 (Rhino/Warner) Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
One of the benefits of Ray Charles's forward-looking master-tape control policy is that his home tape vault is filled with stuff like this amazing footage from a Brazilian television special broadcast once in 1963 and not seen since. Shot the day before Charles turned 33, O-Genio (The Genius) captures the fired-up Brother Ray rocking up a sweat in peak form over two 50-minute performances, backed by his stacked 15-piece touring orchestra, which included Julian Priester, David "Fathead" Newman and Tina Brooks.
By 1963, Charles had already established himself as a premier R&B entertainer and was branching out into country and pop. So along with crowd-pleasing rave-ups like What'd I Say and Hit The Road Jack, you also hear him crooning Take These Chains From My Heart, You Are My Sunshine and You Don't Know Me like he wrote 'em. Also interesting here is the up-front presence of the Raelettes, particularly Charles's sparring mate, Margie Hendrix, whose powerful belting provides a provocative counterpoint to Charles's soulful moan. An excellent companion to the biopic Ray, O-Genio is Charles at his very best.