The genius of their first special was how it favored neither man's immediate, obvious specialty: Nelson is, of course, a country music icon, while Marsalis is one of the nation's foremost jazzmen, but for that show, they met in the middle and played some blues. This time, in taking on the Charles songbook, they allow themselves to hopscotch all over the melodic map, as he did. Charles was, of course, the "genius of soul," but he was also a musical journeyman who experimented in pop, blues, jazz, and country (most famously on his classic Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music albums). And they don't restrict themselves to Charles' own compositions, just songs he performed throughout his career.
The Genius of Ray Charles is a 1959 album by Ray Charles. In 2003, the album was ranked number 263 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. Some players from Ray Charles' big band are joined by many ringers from the Count Basie and Duke Ellington bands for the first half of this program, featuring Charles belting out six songs arranged by Quincy Jones. "Let the Good Times Roll" and "Deed I Do" are highlights, and there are solos by tenorman David "Fathead" Newman, trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, and (on "Two Years of Torture") tenor Paul Gonsalves. The remaining six numbers are ballads, with Charles backed by a string orchestra arranged by Ralph Burns.
This varied, budget-priced, four-disc set collects seven of the great Ray Charles' Atlantic Records LPs, plus an LP from ABC Records in the same package, which means one hears Charles in all sorts of formats, with small combos, at the piano in an intimate setting, with full orchestras, and in live performance, and it adds up to a wide-angle look at one of the most important voices of 20th century pop music. Included are the albums Ray Charles and The Great Ray Charles, both from 1957, Yes, Indeed!! and Brothers of Soul, both from 1958, Ray Charles at Newport, What'd I Say, and The Genius of Ray Charles, all from 1959, and The Genius Hits the Road from 1960. Genius, indeed – this is vintage Ray Charles in the middle of his legendary career, all for a budget price.
The husband-and-wife team of Charles and Ray Eames were America's most influential and important industrial designers. Admired for their creations and fascinating as individuals, they have risen to iconic status in American culture.