Ray Charles was not only an iconic singer, songwriter and pianist, he was also a superb band leader and entertainer. And nowhere did these talents so fully magnify one another, and nowhere did the Genius so fully indulge the breadth of his musical mastery, than on stage. This 1964 date, recorded at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles was originally released as a 12-track LP in 1965 (and shouldn't be confused with the 1973 LP Ray Charles Live, which anthologized late-50s performances). This CD reissue augments the original album with seven previously unreleased tracks, 24-bit remastering (by Bob Fisher at Pacific Multimedia), band credits (notably missing from the original release), full-panel black-and-white photos, and extensive liner notes from Bill Dahl.
Wally Heider's original live recording is crisp and balanced, capturing the powerful attack and fine details of Charles, his band and the soloists. The show opens with the anticipatory instrumental "Swing a Little Taste," stoked by MC Joe Adams, solos from Charles and David "Fathead" Newman, and crackling accents and flourished rolls by drummer Wilbert Hogan. Charles plays his organ cool while the band swings a deep Latin groove on "One Mint Julep," and swithces to piano to tease the audience with a few stylized bars of Beethoven's "Fur Elise" before singing a blue, moaning introduction to kick off "I Got a Woman." A two-part single of the latter track became a low-charting hit in 1965.