Ghosts in the machine. Such is the impression you’re likely to have as you pop this exercise in technological wizardry into your CD player. After all, all three of the album’s principals-Ray Charles, Count Basie and producer Norman Granz-are long gone. Here’s the deal: Late last year, Concord Records’ A&R chief, John Burk, happened upon tapes marked “Ray/Basie” in the label’s Berkeley, Calif. vaults. Turns out they contained muddy recordings of a 1970s concert featuring Basie’s orchestra as the opening act, followed by Charles performing with his own band. At first, the tapes were judged unsalvageable. Then, Burk hit upon the idea of lifting Charles’ vocals (the quality of which was fortunately good) and mixing them with newly recorded music courtesy of the current configuration of the Basie orchestra, augmented by such guests as pianists Shelly Berg, Tom Scott and Jim Cox, B3 organist Joey DeFrancesco and, adding vocal counterpoint alongside a fresh coterie of Raelettes, Patti Austin.
Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.