Ray Charles charmed audiences with songs like "Georgia on My Mind," "I got a Woman" and "Hit the Road Jack," leaving a legacy that lives on.
A band of prominent musicians is perpetuating that legacy and bringing his music to Yoshi’s San Francisco. The band is a meeting of elite jazz and blues musicians including 11-time GRAMMY® Award winner and Santana vocalist Tony Lindsay, noted Bay Area guitarist Chris. A talent-packed rhythm section will back them, including Hammond B-3 player Eamonn Flynn, bassist DeWayne Pate and drummer Deszon Claiborne.
The band was the idea of keyboard player David Mathews, a Santana bandmate, and bassist DeWayne Pate. They recruited the current slate of musicians to round off the band, which also includes HooDoo Rhythm Devils singer Glenn Walters.
The project attempts to capture the essence of Charles' music, a fusion of rhythm and blues, gospel, blues and jazz. He also incorporated gospel, R&B, pop, rock and roll, and even country into his songs.
"We try to stick as close to the original as possible, but you know, it's the kind of thing that you wonder if Ray Charles would," Lindsay said.
They enjoy providing music that appeals to the generations who remember Charles' heyday, he said.
"The music is just great," Lindsay said. "It comes from a really great era of music ... It's just timeless."
Charles' music is very different from the two decades worth of music Lindsay has performed with Santana, he said, but jazz and rhythm and blues were the music he began with. In addition to Santana, his own solo work and The Ray Charles Project, he plays with four other jazz bands.
"That's where my roots are," Lindsay said.
The band enjoys playing Charles' music, which had Charles' own unique take to it, regardless of it's origin. He didn't write much of his music, but he had a way of making it his own, Lindsay said. "Once he did, he claimed it," he said. "It was his."