Ray Charles - Careless Love (ABC- Paramount 10345)
Leroy "Hog" CooperOne of the truly great horn sections of our time was anchored by three incredible saxophone players, who passed on within days of each other last month. Brother Ray believed in the power of the instrument, and by 1959 he had put together the winning combination of Fathead Newman on tenor, Hank Crawford on alto and Hog Cooper on baritone (pictured left to right behind him in the Ernest Withers photograph above) that would be heard on so many elemental and influential hit records.
David "Fathead" Newman
Bennie "Hank" Crawford
One of my all-time favorite songs, this smoldering version of a traditional folk tune was released as the flip of the great You Don't Know Me as the second single pulled from the ground-breaking Modern Sounds In Country and Western Music in July of 1962. Both sides hit the charts, and it was that phenomenal album that put Charles and his band squarely in the public eye and began his long reign as one of the most-loved figures in American music. Whether it was a gently building groundswell like you're listening to now, or the blistering funk of songs like Unchain My Heart, these brilliant sax men played such a huge part in creating Ray's signature sound.
All of them would go on to have impressive careers of their own, but the time they spent working together behind The Genius of Soul may well be remembered best of all.
May They Rest In Peace.