The Genius of Ray Charles

Released October 1959
Recorded May 6 and June 23, 1959
at 6 West Recording in New York City on Ampex 3 track.
Genre Swingin’ pop, traditional pop, rhythm and blues
Length 37:58
Label Atlantic
Producer Nesuhi Ertegün, Jerry Wexler

The Genius of Ray Charles is the sixth studio album by American recording artist Ray Charles, released in 1959 by Atlantic Records. The album eschewed the soul sound of his 1950s recordings, which fused jazz, gospel, and blues, for swinging pop with big band arrangements. It comprises a first half of big band songs and a second half of string-backed ballads. The Genius of Ray Charles sold less than 500,000 copies and charted at number 17 on the Billboard 200. “Let the Good Times Roll” and “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Cryin'” were released as singles in 1959.

The album showcased Charles’ breakout from rhythm and blues and onto a broader musical stage. Atlantic Records gave him full support in production and arrangements. As originally presented, the A side of the album featured the Ray Charles band with David “Fathead” Newman supplemented by players from the Count Basie and Duke Ellington bands, and arrangements by Quincy Jones.

The B side of the original album consists of six ballads with arrangements by Ralph Burns and a large string orchestra. Charles’s performance of “Come Rain or Come Shine”, a song identified with Frank Sinatra, brought public attention to his voice alone without the “distractions” of his soulful piano and his snappy band.

Each side contains a tribute to Louis Jordan with two songs he had hits with “Let the Good Times Roll” and “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Cryin'”.

Track listing

Side one

“Let the Good Times Roll” (Sam Theard, Fleecie Moore) – 2:53
“It Had to Be You” (Gus Kahn, Isham Jones) – 2:45
“Alexander’s Ragtime Band” (Irving Berlin) – 2:53
“Two Years of Torture” (Percy Mayfield, Charles Joseph Morris) – 3:25
“When Your Lover Has Gone” (Einar Aaron Swan) – 2:51
“‘Deed I Do” (Walter Hirsch, Fred Rose) – 2:27

Side two

“Just for a Thrill” (Lil Hardin Armstrong, Don Raye) – 3:26
“You Won’t Let Me Go” (Bud Allen, Buddy Johnson) – 3:22
“Tell Me You’ll Wait for Me” (Charles Brown, Oscar Moore) – 3:25
“Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Cryin'” (Joe Greene) – 3:46
“Am I Blue?” (Grant Clarke, Harry Akst) – 3:41
“Come Rain or Come Shine” (Johnny Mercer, Harold Arlen) – 3:42


Side one

Ray Charles – piano and vocals
Clark Terry – trumpet
Ernie Royal – trumpet
Joe Newman – trumpet
Snookie Young – trumpet
Marcus Belgrave – trumpet
John Hunt – trumpet
Melba Liston – trombone
Quentin Jackson – trombone
Thomas Mitchell – trombone
Al Gray – trombone
Frank Wess – flute, alto saxophone and tenor saxophone
Marshal Royal – alto sax
Paul Gonsalves – tenor sax (and solo on “Two Years of Torture”)
Zoot Sims – tenor sax (on “Let the Good Times Roll”, “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” and “‘Deed I Do”)
Billy Mitchell – tenor sax (on “It had to be You”, “Two Years of Torture” and “When Your Lover Has Gone”)
David “Fathead” Newman – tenor sax (and solos on “Let the Good Times Roll”, “When Your Lover Has Gone”, “‘Deed I Do”)
Quincy Jones – arranger, conductor

Side two

Ray Charles – piano and vocals
Allen Hanlon – guitar
Wendell Marshall – bass
Ted Sommer – drums
Bob Brookmeyer – valve trombone
Harry Lookofsky – concertmaster
Unidentified – large woodwinds and strings section
Ralph Burns – arranger
Other credits[edit]
Sleeve notes: Nat Hentoff
Recording engineers: Bill Schwartau and Tom Dowd

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