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Ray Sings and Basie Swings

The late Ray Charles never recorded with the Count Basie Orchestra. But a new album features Charles singing "Let the Good Times Roll" with Count Basie's band.

The piece, one of 12 on the album Ray Sings, Basie Swings, is a digital mashup created by audio engineer and producer Gregg Field, who worked with Charles as a drummer and arranger in the '70s.

Last year, Field's colleagues discovered a box marked "Ray/Basie." Inside were tracks of unreleased recordings from the mid '70s.

"We thought we found the Holy Grail of jazz — [that] they finally recorded together," Field says. "In fact, it was a live concert where Count Basie played a set of his own and Ray Charles played a set of his own with his band."

But the label gave audio producers the idea to digitally hybridize the two legends.

Field started with the never-released Charles recordings. The quality of sound on the tapes was so poor that Field had to digitally isolate Charles' voice frame by frame from the tracks. He then lined up each track from the old recording to new instrumental recordings from the contemporary Count Basie Orchestra.

The 5-month process was worth the effort, says Field.

"We were able to retain Ray's phrasing, which was very important to make the sound right," he says.

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