Jazz Hot : « What is Jean-Michel Bernard's special quality which makes you love working with him?»
Ray Charles :« I love him because he is better than me ! I told you the same thing about Oscar Peterson, I love true talent, this guy is a genius, in my mind… He's incredible, he really is incredible, I enjoy just being around him, and you know, what I do when I have him on the show with me, I totally focus when he's playing, on him, you know…
(Jean-Pierre Grosz :and he helps you, RC :that's right).»
« He is extraordinary. I mean, I have to tell you the truth, he's a very unusual man in today's age, you understand what I mean, so that's why I love him, and when I say he is better than me, I know it sounds weird but I'm being honest.
(JPG : He has a great technique… RC : that's right)»
« He feels me, everything I do, he's right there, I can't get away from him…
(JPG : You can go anywhere you want, you don't have to worry about it, I know It's the way he is )».
Transcript of recorded interview by Felix Sportis (Geneva, 8 april 2003).
MESSAGE TO RAY
« Never dull, man, » said Brad, the guitarist of the Ray Charles Quartet as we were leaving Moscow Airport in December 2002, the windows of the bus covered with frost, on our way to Prince Igor's Palace near Red Square.
Never routine, that is exactly how Ray's tours and concerts were, often including the unexpected and always filled with emotion : Ray singing « Yesterday » on the docks of Liverpool, wishing me a happy birthday in song after the concert at the Apollo in London, the crowd of 25,000 at the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen surrounding Ray in his minibus, Wilson Picket kneeling beside Ray backstage at the San Remo Festival, Bob Dylan in Sidney asking Ray if he could 'play a little blues » with us.
Alone in my studio, preferably in the morning, at times in housecoat and docksides, I took upon the task of transposing these moments into music. The result is this album « Message to Ray, » a message to the man who I loved and admired and who I will continue to love and admire.
Just a few notes for Ray, for those who love his music, in memory of the moments spent together on stage where we always ended each concert with « Straight, No Chaser, » « You take the first solo, I'll take the second, then let's go home. »