Willie Nelson & Wynton Marsalis

Here We Go Again: Celebrating the Genius of Ray Charles (Blue Note / EMI)

Texas Platters

Willie Nelson & Wynton Marsalis (Featuring Norah Jones)

Here We Go Again: Celebrating the Genius of Ray Charles (Blue Note/EMI)

Like its 2008 predecessor, Two Men With the Blues, this live collaboration of icons Nelson and Marsalis performing the music of Ray Charles isn't likely to generate any new converts. In fact, the uniqueness that was largely the saving grace of the previous outing doesn't hold sway anymore. Despite boasting favorites from Charles repertoire including "Cryin' Time," "Busted," and "Hit the Road Jack," this summit never clicks, perhaps a result of the one-off nature of the project making it hard for the musical personalities to fully gel. Still, it's always a joy to hear Nelson's singing mess with time and phrasing, abetted by a loose-limbed jazz outfit and first-rate soloists like trumpeter Marsalis. Adding to her growing list of stellar guest appearances on other people's albums, Jones is perhaps the brightest light here as she lends her grace to "Come Rain or Come Shine," "Makin' Whoopee," and several duets with Nelson.  Maybe you just had to have been there.

**

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Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis (featuring Norah Jones)

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