DVD Review “Ray Charles: Live in France 1961”

Directed by: Jean-Christophe Averty
Starring: Ray Charles
Distributed by: Eagle Vision Entertainment
Running Time: 111 minutes

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

This DVD consists of concert footage from the 1961 Antibes Jazz Festival that has been lost for the last 50 years. These newly discovery concerts add up to about an hour and 45 minutes of footage. Just to be able to watch this is considered a treat. The footage was transferred and restored from its original 16mm and really looks great for what it is. I love Ray Charles and his music is just genius. This early concert with him is a great insight into his music prior to being a legendary star.

The concerts from the 1961 Antibes Jazz Festival are split over two days July 18th and July 22nd, 1961. Some of the tracks included are “Let the Good Times Roll”, “Georgia on My Mind”, “Sticks and Stones” and “Hallelujah, I Love Her So”. Since it is two different concerts over two days there are some duplicate songs from each day. There are also some bonus tracks includes on this disc from July 19th and July 21st, 1961, including “The Story”, “Yes Indeed”, “I Believe My Soul”, “What’d I Say”, “Wonder”. Also notable included on this disc is Nat King Cole track “With You On My Mind”, which is a song that Ray never recorded.

It is amazing getting to watch Ray Charles perform especially on the old black and white 16mm transferred film. His band is also really great to listen to especially the Raeletts. These concerts in France are the first time that Ray Charles has performed in Europe. The DVD case and inserts are very impressive as well. Lately these days little goes into the sleeve-art and pamphlet. The pamphlet is an informational and colorful 15 pages.  This is definitely worth the purchase and I recommend it for sure.