That's What I Say: John Scofield Plays The Music of Ray Charles John Scofield
CD Review by Mike D'Ariano
/ 10/2005

Track listing
1. Busted 2. What'd I Say 3. Sticks And Stones 4. I Don't Need No Doctor 5. Cryin' Time
6. I Can't Stop Loving You 7. Hit The Road Jack 8. Talkin' 'Bout You/I Got A Woman
9. Unchain My Heart (Part 1) 10. Let's Go Get Stoned 11. Night Time Is The Right Time
12. You Don't Know Me 13. Georgia On My Mind

Label: Verve / Release date: 6/7/2005

Okay, from the title of the album, you already know what it's all about. Here's what you don't know.

The album starts out with an instrumental, "Busted" and then on the second track both the vocals and the guest stars start up with a vengeance. "What'd I Say," said second track, features guest vocals by Aaron Neville, Dr. John, Mavis Staples, John Mayer and Warren Haynes, along with a sax solo by Brother Ray's own sax man, David "Fathead" Newman. All of the stars make additional appearances throughout the album when they take turns sitting in individually with John and his band.

So you've got a bad-ass funky jazz guitar player, playing a bunch of great Ray Charles songs, with a bunch of cool and interesting guest musicians . . . how could it be bad? Well to be honest, it's not as good as you'd think. It has some very soulless moments, like the big "What'd I Say" jam, which comes off flat and disjointed. But all in all the strength of the songs and the musicians playing them pulls it through. If you're a fan of Scofield or Charles, I'd say this is a winner. If you're not big on either, there are better multi-artist lovefest tribute albums out there.

One interesting side note. If anyone has seen the Rolling Stones on their recent tour, maybe you were lucky enough to see their tremendous version of Ray Charles' "Night Time (Is The Right Time)." The song which both times I saw it performed stole the show features a duet between Jagger and the wonderful and underrated longtime stones back-up singer Lisa Fischer. Fischer brings the house down with her powerful wail, and here's where this gets relevant to this review . . . she also sings "the girl part" on the version of "Night Time" included on the Scofield album. She's dialed down in the mix and it makes her performance less memorable, but until the Stones put their version on their next live album, this is as close as you can get to that fantastic version.

Worth it: "You Don't Know Me," "Talking About You/I Got A Woman," "I Don't Need No Doctor."