Tag Archives: Los Angeles

Ray Charles Live In Concert to be Re-issued by Concord Music Group

22 Mar

In the half-century between his earliest recordings in the 1950s and his death in 2004, Ray Charles ascended to icon status by leaving his mark on virtually every form of American popular music that emerged in the latter half of the 20th century. Nowhere was this more evident than in his live performances, where one was likely to hear shades of blues, soul, R&B, jazz, gospel, country, and more in a single evening – indeed, sometimes in a single song. To put it simply, the Right Reverend did it all.

 All of these subtle shades and styles are evident in Concord Music Group’s reissue of Ray Charles Live in Concert. Originally released as a 12-song LP on ABC-Paramount in early 1965, Live in Concert captured Ray at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles in September 1964. More than four decades later, the CD reissue brings additional depth and perspective to the 1964 recording with the help of 24-bit remastering, seven previously unreleased tracks and extensive new liner notes that provide additional historical context to what is already considered a pivotal recording in Ray’s overall body of work.

“There could be no more uplifting live musical experience than digging Ray Charles and his mighty orchestra in their prime,” says roots music historian Bill Dahl. Indeed, the 15-piece orchestra backing Ray on this date – assembled just a few years earlier in 1961 – boasted no less than a dozen horns, including formidable saxophonists David “Fathead” Newman, Hank Crawford, and Leroy “Hog” Cooper, all of whom had been with Ray since his days as a leader of smaller combos. “This amazing aggregation,” says Dahl, “was every bit as conversant with the intricacies of modern jazz as with the gospel-blues synthesis that Brother Ray pioneered during the mid-1950s, when he began accruing serious cred as the father of what would soon become known as soul music.”

Chris Clough, Concord’s manager of catalog development and producer of the Live in Concert reissue, notes that the Shrine Auditorium performance took place at a transitional moment in Ray’s career, just as he was transcending the confines of R&B and entering the mainstream by demonstrating a firm grasp of various other genres. “He’d made his ascendance in the early ’60s, and he had the world at his feet by this time,” says Clough. “He’d basically invented soul, he’d done R&B, he’d conquered country and he was on his way to becoming an American icon.”

In the span of 19 songs, Live in Concert illuminates the route to that destination. Ray wastes no time taking his audience on a ride from jazzy big band groove of “Swing a Little Taste” to the Latin-flavored “One Mint Julep” to the blues-gospel hybrid of his classic “I Got a Woman.” Although his live rendition of “Georgia On My Mind” on this date didn’t make the cut on the original LP, the song is a standout track on the reissue, thanks to his complex organ runs and the flute lines moving in counterpoint with his rich vocals.

Clough considers the yearning “You Don’t Know Me” and the previously unreleased “That Lucky Old Sun” to be among the high points of the recording. “It sounds like he’s really baring his soul on those two tracks, and they just sound incredible,” says Clough, noting that Ray was unaware that tape was rolling during this performance. “This particular date was at the end of their tour, and the performance seems a little loose as a result – in a good way, and in a less slick way.”

Further in, the rousing “Hallelujah, I Love Her So” is driven by a gospel groove and embellished with a sax solo by Newman that closely mirrors the original 1957 recording. The result is a familiar hit for an audience that’s more than ready to reinforce Ray’s foot-stomping beat with handclaps.

The sly and swaggering “Makin’ Whoopee” is delivered completely off the cuff, with drummer Wilbert Hogan, bassist Edgar Willis, and guitarist Sonny Forriest improvising an accompaniment behind what Dahl calls “Ray’s luxurious piano and breathy, supremely knowing vocals.” By all accounts, Ray spontaneously inserted the song into the set in response to the negative press he’d received overseas about his private life.

In the home stretch, Ray introduces the Raeletts, the female backing vocalists who served as his foil for some of his biggest hits. Together they work their way through “Don’t Set Me Free” (with Lillian Fort stepping forward for a duet with Ray), the comical “Two Ton Tessie” and the torchy “My Baby” before climaxing with the churning “What’d I Say,” a song tailor-made to stoke any room to a fever pitch.

A huge piece of the Ray Charles legacy is his mastery of any style he touched, and his ability to make it his own in a way that no other artist could – powers that can only come from an innate sense of adventure and spontaneity that are fully evident in Ray Charles Live in Concert.

“Few performers were less predictable onstage than Ray Charles,” says Dahl. “And nobody did it better.”

www.concordmusicgroup.com

Eat Bacon and Live to 115!

11 Sep

Obit Oldest Person

LOS ANGELES – Gertrude Baines, who lived to be the world’s oldest person on a steady diet of crispy bacon, fried chicken and ice cream, died Friday at a nursing home. She was 115.

Baines, who remarked last year that she enjoyed life so much she wouldn’t mind living another 100 years, died in her sleep, said Emma Camanag, administrator at Western Convalescent Hospital.

The centenarian likely suffered a heart attack, said her longtime physician, Dr. Charles Witt. An autopsy was scheduled to determine the cause of death.

“I saw her two days ago, and she was just doing fine,” Witt told The Associated Press. “She was in excellent shape. She was mentally alert. She smiled frequently.”

Born in 1894 in Shellman, Ga., Baines claimed the title of the world’s oldest living person when a 115-year-old woman, Maria de Jesus, died in Portugal in January.

“I’m glad I’m here. I don’t care if I live a hundred more,” Baines said in November after casting her vote for Barack Obama in the presidential election. “I enjoy nothing but eating and sleeping.”

The oldest person in the world is now Kama Chinen, 114, who lives in Japan, according to Dr. L. Stephen Coles of the Gerontology Research Group, which tracks claims of extreme old age. Chinen was born May 10, 1895, Coles said.

The oldest person who has ever lived is Jeanne-Louise Calment, according to Coles. She was 122 when she died Aug. 4, 1997, in Arles, France.

Baines outlived her entire family, including her only daughter, who died of typhoid.

Baines worked as a maid in Ohio State University dormitories until her retirement and has lived at the Western Convalescent Hospital in Los Angeles for more than 10 years.

“Living that long is like winning the genetic lottery,” Robert Young, a scientist and senior consultant with Guinness World Records, said at her birthday party in April.

Staff at Baines’ nursing home described her as a modest woman who liked to watch the “Jerry Springer Show” and eat fried chicken, bacon and ice cream. She refused to use dentures.

“I don’t know how she does it. She only has her gums, no teeth,” said Susie Exconde, the nursing director who found Baines dead in her bed at about 7:25 a.m.

Witt, Baines’ physician, said that when he visited her earlier this week, she only complained that her bacon was soggy and arthritis was causing pain in her right knee.

Baines celebrated her birthday at the nursing home April 6 with music, two cakes and a letter from Obama.

Featured on local television newscasts when she voted last year, Baines, who is black, said she backed Obama “because he’s for the colored.” She said she never thought she would live to see a black man become president.

“We were hoping to have her until the next election,” Exconde said. “We’ll miss her.”

Los Angelinos Fighting to Save Taco Trucks

12 Mar

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles, loath to rally cohesively around a local cause, has joined hands around tortillas.

A new county ordinance restricting taco trucks has outraged food bloggers, construction workers, residents of East Los Angeles accustomed to plopping down in a folding chair, taco in one hand, nonalcoholic sangria in the other, as well as members of the taco-loving public willing to drive 15 miles for the best carnitas.

Nearly 5,000 people have signed an online petition opposing the new law at saveourtacotrucks.org, where “carne asada is not a crime.” Enraged taco cart proprietors are defiant; some have hired lawyers. On Thursday, people flocked to taco trucks in support.

This a place where you can pave over a freeway’s carpool lanes with toll roads, and few will complain. You can propose a 40-story skyrise in the center of Hollywood, and hardly anyone two miles to the west will take notice. You can squander public money, close down the ports and flatten landmarks, and many residents of this sprawling metropolis will simply yawn and move on.

But this is also a food-obsessed city with rich Hispanic cultural traditions, and tacos have crossed the miles of road and class divides.

“Taco trucks are iconic here,” said Aaron Sonderleiter, a teacher from the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles and one of the petition founders. “You go to one and you see black, people, white people, old people, young people. They really capture a microcosm of L.A.”

Violations of the old rules, which allow food vendors to remain in a location for 30 minutes, are mere infractions, and in any case the rules are seldom enforced. But under the new ordinance, which goes into effect next week, taco carts would be required to change location every hour, with violators facing fines, misdemeanor charges and, possibly, jail time. County officials say the change comes at the behest of residents who find the carts eyesores, and some restaurant owners who feel undermined by the price-chopping ways of their mobile competition.

“They are a blight,” said Omar Loya of East Los Angeles who took his complaints about the trucks to the office of his county supervisor, Gloria Molina.

Ms. Molina’s policy director, Gerry Hertzberg, said the trucks had become “a big quality of life issue” in some neighborhoods.

“Businesses with a fixed place of business complain about unfair competition and the spillover effects mobile vendors have on the surrounding area,” Mr. Hertzberg said, citing litter, noise, public urination and excessive parking space hoarding as typical complaints.

The new restrictions apply to the county’s unincorporated areas, of which East Los Angeles, which lies just east of downtown, is the most populated. In this dominantly Hispanic neighborhood, taco trucks — and their culinary cousins, fresh fruit vendors — are the curbside pizza storefronts of New York.

At night, some serve as social centers, where communities gather to listen to music and chow down. Some trucks — loncheras — are adorned with names or artwork that signifies the region of Mexico that the vendor hails from, and the food served often also has a regional distinction.

Far faster and far cheaper than restaurants, they are a favorite for day laborers, poor families and cheap dates.

“In my case I have 30 minutes for lunch,” said Carlos Baptista, a construction worker eating a fish taco last week. “And when I only have $4 in my pocket, it is more cheaper than restaurants.”

Under the new ordinance, trucks in a commercial zone will have an hour to sit; those in a residential area will still have to leave after 30 minutes, but in much of East Los Angeles, commercial and residential are one. After the allotted time, a vendor would have to move at least one half mile from the location, and not return for three hours. The district attorney may also charge taco flouters with a misdemeanor, and fines will increase from $60 to $100 dollars for first violation, increasing to a cap of $500.

The City of Los Angeles already has similar restrictions, but they have been uncontroversial because they are rarely enforced; a law regulating food trucks in the city was enforced 28 times last year, according to the police. Efforts to restrict the vendors have met resistance in other cities, as well.

Several taco truck owners last week said they had heard of the law change and were displeased.

“We are hard workers and we pay taxes,” said Jose Naranjo, who has been selling fish and shrimp tacos from his truck in East Los Angeles since 1989. “We are poor people feeding other poor people.”

Mr. Hertzberg said the current county law was enforced roughly “150 times a year,” although Henry Romero, the captain of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s East Los Angeles station, said they had not issued a summons in four years. (Mr. Hertzberg later said that he was referring to 2004, during which one violator was fined 60 times.)

Law enforcement officials say the new ordinance has clearer language that will make enforcement easier.

“Is it one of my primary goals?” Captain Romero said. “Put it this way: We will enforce it when we get complaints from the community.”

Several restaurant owners in East Los Angeles, when asked about the taco trucks, shrugged. “What they do is different,” said Bernardo Garcia, who owns three restaurants.

But there are plenty who disagree.

“A lot of these food trucks are not from our community, they make money in our community but do not give back to the community,” said Lourdes Caracoza, the president of Maravilla Business Association, which covers a small section of East Los Angeles. “People say this is part of our culture. I don’t recall any towns in Mexico having taco trucks.”

Girl Scores Goal at Randy’s Donuts

28 Oct

This is funny stuff. Watch the urban mayhem transpire at L.A. landmark.