Saturday, October 30, 2004

A Movie Worth Ray-ving About

I got to see the movie Ray last night, and it lives up to the hype. Jamie Foxx's outstanding portrayal of music legend Ray Charles makes this movie rise above the average biopic. He evokes a wide range of emotions despite not being able to use his eyes to do so. The movie may gloss over some of Charles' indiscretions, focusing on only one wife (he may have actually had two, along with twelve children by various women) and two mistresses on the road, but it also features a chilling portrayal of his heroin usage--superior even to that in Clint Eastwood's Charlie Parker biopic Bird. The rehab-center scenes are probably a better promotion for "Just Say No" than all the public-service spots combined.

As musicians, Halfling and I were of course on the lookout for inaccuracies in that area, but we didn't find too many. We knew that Foxx was lip-synching to music tracks provided by Charles himself before his death this past summer, but he did so well enough that we almost forgot he wasn't singing himself. There was also a scene when Atlantic Records exec Ahmet Ertegun (played, of all people, by Curtis Armstrong--yes, Booger from Revenge of the Nerds) suggests a song idea that became "The Mess Around." He tells Ray to "play it in G"...except the tune comes out in E-flat; I doubt few people noticed that. We also noticed that the bari player was playing a Yamaha low-A bari, which I'm pretty sure didn't exist in the 1950's (and the only Yamaha product in the States at the time had two wheels!). There was one other thing that we found later, but I can't remember it, so it must not have been that important.

So if you like Ray Charles' music (and certainly you must like some of it) or just want to see a great story of a man triumphing over youthful tragedy, racism and a handicap that he refused to let limit his choices, check Ray out.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "Problem, we have a Houston."--Ben, at the combo gig yesterday afternoon. Our tenor player, named Houston, was running so late that I thought I was going to have to fill in on his parts, but he arrived with about (literally) one minute to spare, which prompted Ben's clever line.

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