Ray Charlesâ€™ helped inaugurate the Impulse! label with this 1961 release, the labelâ€™s second album. Produced by Creed Taylor, and recorded in the same New Jersey studios that hosted Jimmy Smith and other Blue Note greats, Charles sat himself behind a Hammond B-3 and together with key members of the Count Basie band, he swung arrangements written by Quincy Jones and Ralph Burns. From the opening horn stabs of â€œFrom the Heartâ€ itâ€™s clear that this band plays big, brassy and hard, yet Charles keeps it cool on the organ, and his two vocal numbers (â€œIâ€™ve Got News For Youâ€ and â€œIâ€™m Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Townâ€), are blue and soulful. Charles gave the band and its soloists plenty of room to shine, but when his keys step to the front, such as his growling lead on â€œOne Mint Julep,â€ itâ€™s clear whose leading the sessions.
Concordâ€™s two-CD reissue adds three albums that Charles recorded in the 1970s: My Kind of Jazz (1970), Jazz Number II (1972) and My Kind of Jazz Part 3 (1975). These are primarily instrumental albums and are filled with the sort of charts used to warm up audiences at Charlesâ€™ live shows. There is a generous helping of 3/4 jazz waltzes and Latin rhythms. Recorded with his road band, the lineup is filled with instrumental stars, including Blue Mitchell, Joe Randazzo, Clifford Scott, David â€œFatheadâ€ Newman and many others. Highlights include the Stax-styled groove of â€œBooty-Buttâ€ and a bubbly take on Lee Morganâ€™s â€œSidewinder.â€ As an additional bonus, a cover of â€œMistyâ€ is included from trombonist Steve Turreâ€™s In the Spur of the Moment.
The recording quality is superb, with a super wide stereo image. Remastering is by Paul Blakemore at Telarc. The setâ€™s 12-page booklet includes new liner notes by Ralph Friedwald, original album notes by Dick Katz and Quincy Jones, and full-panel cover reproductions. The original sessions show Charles at full power; the 1970s albums feature great playing, but often feel like pre-show warmups. If you already have Genius + Soul = Jazz in high fidelity, the upgrade may not be necessary, but if you havenâ€™t yet enjoyed Charlesâ€™ 1961 classic, this is a great way to hear it. [Â©2010 hyperbolium dot com]