MICHAEL DOHERTY’S MUSIC LOG
The Flying Horse Big Band: “Florida Rays” – Just the kind of thing to raise our spirits in these dark days of anxiety, The Flying Horse Big Band celebrates the music and spirit of Ray Charles on the new release, Florida Rays. The disc opens with a swinging rendition of “One Mint Julep,” a tune written by Rudy Toombs and originally recorded in 1952 by The Clovers. But it is Ray Charles’ 1961 rendition that really made the tune popular. That’s followed by a delicious version of “Let The Good Times Roll,” featuring a seriously enjoyable performance by guest vocalist Rob Paparozzi, and some wonderful work on trombone. Rob Paparozzi also leads the band in a lively and fun rendition of Ray Charles’ “Hallelujah I Love Her So” and a wonderful rendition of “Busted.” DaVonda Simmons joins the band on vocals for a sexy and cool version of “Lonely Avenue,” another of the disc’s highlights, as well as on a seriously fun rendition of “Hit The Road, Jack.” One of my favorite Ray Charles recordings is his take on “You Don’t Know Me,” which never fails to move me. The Flying Horse Big Band does a really good job with it, their version featuring Vance Villastrigo on vocals and piano. The most surprising song choice on this delightful album is “(It’s Not Easy) Bein’ Green,” written by Joe Raposo and sung by Kermit The Frog (Jim Henson). Ray Charles included the song on his 1975 LP Renaissance, and also performed it with Kermit on Cher’s television show that same year. Khristian Dentley delivers a moving vocal performance on this rendition, which also features some wonderful work by Ryan Devlin on saxophone. This album was released on September 1, 2020.