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April 21, 2011

Willie and Wynton Pay Tribute to Ray Charles

by Doug Levine

Many consider the late Ray Charles one of the greatest entertainers of all time.  Two of his biggest fans are entertainment icons themselves, Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis.  The pair pay tribute to their musical hero with “Here We Go Again: Celebrating The Genius Of Ray Charles.”

A Ray Charles classic from the 1960s, “Busted” features the unlikely vocal pairing of country veteran Willie Nelson and jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis.  Of course, Ray was a pioneer when it came to mixing musical genres, so it’s no surprise that these two modern innovators decided to join forces on a tribute album dedicated to the man known simply as the “Genius.”

This isn’t the first time Willie and Wynton performed together.  In 2007, they collaborated on the Number One jazz album “Two Men With the Blues,” recorded live at Lincoln Center in New York City.  Two years later, they teamed up again on their salute to Ray Charles, also recorded in concert at Lincoln Center.  They were supported by a five-piece band and a special guest vocalist.

Ten-time Grammy winner Norah Jones joins the Ray Charles tribute on “Come Rain Or Come Shine.”  Ray recorded a version of this Harold Arlen-Johnny Mercer hit for his 1959 album, “The Genius of Ray Charles.”

Norah also sings a duet with Willie Nelson on the title track “Here We Go Again,” as well as the ballads “Cryin’ Time,” and “You Don’t Know Me.”  All three stars, Willie, Wynton and Norah, sing the Ray Charles favorites “What I’d Say” and “Hit The Road Jack.”