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Nelson, Marsalis, Jones explore genius of Charles

Tuesday, February 15, 2011 – Once was not enough for Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis. After appearing together on 2008's Blue Note album "Two Men With the Blues," the two are joining forces - this time with Nora Jones - for " Here We Go Again: Celebrating the Genius of Ray Charles," a 12-tune song cycle about the ups and downs of love, out March 29 on Blue Note.

The first meeting of Nelson and Marsalis was at The Allen Room at New York's Jazz at Lincoln Center for 2 nights in 2007; their encore appearance was also staged at the jazz house - this time for two sold-out nights at Rose Theater in February 2009 with special guest Jones. The three paid homage to the music of the late Ray Charles.

The new songs are rendered in a variety of styles, including gospel two-beat, boogaloo, country ballad, bolero, hard bop, r&b, waltz and 4/4 swing. Instrumental support at the concert came via the trumpeter's working quintet-tenor saxophonist Walter Blanding, pianist Dan Nimmer, bassist Carlos Henriquez and drummer Ali Jackson - and Nelson's longtime sidekick, Mickey Raphael, on harmonica.

Marsalis arranged the set list as a story line about love: "You fall in love, you get lost and busted, and then you try to come back."

"It's what I call root-groove music," explains Marsalis. "The root music cuts across all the boundaries and genres in American music." He adds, "There was a time in the early '50s when artists would come up and be influenced by all types of music." Nelson agrees: "You have to love all kinds of music to put your own interpretation on (the songs)."

Nelson said Charles "did more for country music with that one album than any of us could have done because he opened country songs and country music to millions of his fans and brought a whole lot of people together."

Jones was happy to be invited to share the stage. "It was a no-brainer for me. I love Willie so much and have had a musical relationship with him. And I've always wanted to do something with Wynton."

When she heard the theme of the evening Charles' music, she said, "I know all those songs. We all just love his music. That's the common factor."

"This was a special event for me," said Nelson. "It always is when we get together."

Songs are:

1. Hallelujah I Love Her So (Gospel 2-beat / Boogaloo / 4/4 Swing)
2. Come Rain or Come Shine (Walking Ballad)
3. Unchain My Heart (Bolero with Habanera bass)
4. Cryin' Time (Country Ballad)
5. Losing Hand (Dirge with Chain-Gang Shuffle)
6. Hit The Road Jack (Gospel 2-beat / 4/4 Swing)
7. I'm Moving On (Boogaloo with Afro-Latin Backbeat / 4/4 Swing)
8. Busted (Gospel 12/8 Shuffle)
9. Here We Go Again (Rhythm & Blues 12/8 Shuffle)
10. Makin' Whoopie (Hard-Bop 2-beat / 4/4 Swing)
11. I Love You So Much (It Hurts) (Waltz)
12. What'd I Say (Boogaloo)

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