Ray Charles - Live In Brazil


Reviewed by: Max Blinkhorn

Some things are good. This is one.

These recordings, though 40 years old, have a very real feel. Ray Charles, with his outstanding backing band and singers, just ring out the music in this unusual DVD. He was 32 when this recording was made, but there is some peculiar timelessness about his quirky and potent figure bashing away at the keys of a huge and resounding grand piano.

Live In Brazil is very much a document and the material is presented straight, with no introduction. There are two shows recorded on videotape in 1963. The commercial breaks in Portuguese are included and they run for minutes. How different from our own dear advertisements!

The title sequence, using Ray's glasses as a motif, is simple but classic, doling out the credits. But it's the music that dominates and Charles's singing is wonderful. His effortless style and poise is so totally cool, he wows us completely. Bearing in mind the equipment of the time, this silvery black-and-white presentation is delicious to watch. The cinematography is highly professional, with multiple cameras and great moves. The band is choreographed and play their visual part perfectly, like the seasoned pros they are. Cool suits, dudes!

The girl singers are proto-Supremes; their stance is formal, their dresses are big and their harmony perfectly blended from practice to performance. The scale of the event is big - a huge, full auditorium, where the players spread across the stage.

I went straight to Hit The Road Jack on my second pass and found it a little flat in comparison to the single released at the time - the one we wore out at home. Immediately afterwards, bright piano chords lift the mood in Moanin' and we're really moving again with another classic instrumental. While Charles is generally thought of as a singer, his all-round music ability shines and on Birth Of A Band, he and his crew play a brilliant piece, full of wild tenor sax solos and, boy, are these guys enjoying themselves! At the end of the first set, there's a magic instrumental big band piece, with Ray playing alto sax, complete with his syncopating trademark head nods.

The second show is completely different and includes many of his better-known hits, such as I Can't Stop Loving You and Take These Chains From My Heart. For the simple novelty and documentary value, Live In Brazil is worth buying. The raw feel gives it an edge and, for the price, you simply can't argue. The DVD content is light in comparison to the norm, but it's authenticity more than compensates.

I liked this and I'll be getting my very own copy.

Reviewed on: 12 Feb 2005
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Ray Charles - Live In Brazil packshot
A 32-year-old Ray Charles plays live in Brazil.
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Director: Federico Padilla

Starring: Ray Charles and band

Year: 1963

Runtime: 101 minutes

Country: Brazil


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