« Never dull, man, » said Brad Rabuchin, the guitarist of the Ray Charles Quartet as we were leaving Moscow Airport in December 2002, the windows of the bus covered with frost, on our way to Prince Igor’s Palace near Red Square.

  Never routine, that is exactly how Ray’s tours and concerts were, often including the unexpected and always filled with emotion :
Ray singing « Yesterday » on the docks of Liverpool, wishing me a happy birthday in song after the concert at the Apollo in London, the crowd of 25,000 at the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen surrounding Ray in his minibus, Wilson Picket kneeling beside Ray backstage at the San Remo Festival, Bob Dylan in Sidney asking Ray if he could ‘play a little blues » with us.

Alone in my studio, preferably in the morning, at times in housecoat and docksides, I took upon the task of transposing these moments into music.

The result is this album « Message to Ray, » a message to the man who I loved and admired and who I will continue to love and admire.

Just a few notes for Ray, for those who love his music, in memory of the moments spent together on stage where we always ended each concert with « Straight, No Chaser, » « You take the first solo, I’ll take the second, then let’s go home. »

Thank you, Ray.

Jean-Michel Bernard, composer