January 23, 2009

Most folks have never heard the name, David "Fathead" Newman. He died today at age 75.

A young black boy from Dallas, in 1954 he joined with Ray Charles, a budding star, as saxophonist for a gig that lasted more than a decade. Though his name is nondescript, the echo of his soulful riffs will tweak the memories of several generations.

The intro to "The Night Time" is memorable, maybe haunting, along with his solos on "Unchain My Heart" and "Hallelujah I Love Her So. " His wailing musical metaphors seem to cling to one's mind.

In Jazz World he did a lot of good stuff (I personally rank him above Coltrane), but his trademark tunes came from his association with the Doctor, Ray Charles.

Much like Margie Hendricks, the gut-busting Raylette, Fathead was an integral part of the musical fabric of Ray Charles, a magical collaboration that defined an era of excellence.

If you have never heard any of the tunes mentioned above, this don't mean nothin'. Ya' kinda' had to be there. . .