David ‘Fathead’ Newman

Released January 11, 2005

Jazzweek No1 Year End Jazz Chart 2005

YouTube: https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_kgYsTG4StGXABfs0wPJyNDF5gfl2ObALg

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/5f60bFRZjU0ygqHCcD3l7t?si=mKf41Di9R7Kln1hABaoMjw


“If I had focused on sax instead of singing and playing piano, I would have wanted to sound like ‘Fathead’,” Ray Charles told an interviewer in 1977. “’Fathead’ has the sound, the soul and the melodic mind that make him a jazz giant. He was an important part of my music, and I’m happy I met him so early on.” This was Ray Charles’ spoken tribute to David Newman. Now, David Newman pays tribute to his former boss in his latest HighNote disc, “I Remember Brother Ray.” Featuring eight tunes David played with Ray Charles at the height of his popularity, David and sidemen Steve Nelson on vibes, John Menegon on bass, Winard Harper on drums, and John Hicks ably filling the piano seat, this is at once a touching, swinging and heart-felt tribute from one jazz great to another.

Track Listing:

1. Hit the Road Jack (Percy Mayfield) 5:44

2. Georgia On My Mind (Hoagy Carmichael / Stuart Gorrell) 7:20

3. When Your Lover Has Gone 5:05

4. Drown in My Tears (Henry Glover) 6:15

5. Deed I Do 5:27

6. It Had to Be You (Isham Jones / Gus Kahn) 5:32

7. Ruby (Mitchell Parish / Heinz Roemheld) 9:44

8. Them That Got (I Ain’t Got Nothing Yet) 5:32


David ‘Fathead’ Newman: tenor saxophone

Steve Nelson: vibes

John Hicks: piano

John Menegon: bass

Winard Harper: drums 

Recorded August 14, 2004, at Van Gelder Studios, Englewood Cliffs, NJ

Co-Produced by David Newman & Houston Person

Executive Producer: Joe Fields

Engineered, mixed and mastered by Rudy Van Gelder

Cover photo by Gene Martin


David “Fathead” Newman joined the Ray Charles band in 1954 and stayed a decade. In 1958, Charles produced Fathead: Ray Charles Presents David Newman, the saxophonist and flutist’s debut album. Now, with Charles’ death, Newman salutes his former boss and mentor with an album of personal highlights of their collaboration.
Newman’s dark, dry tone, soulful phrasing and vibrato, and cool manner of falling off notes in this all-tenor date are mighty inviting. His playing on “Drown in My Tears” has more inherent soulfulness than a dozen over-the-top tenor players straining to blow the roof off. And “Georgia” (Newman played flute on Charles’ hit version) is warm balladry with taste and class-and more soul. “When Your Lover Has Gone” and “‘Deed I Do” (both from Charles’ final album for Atlantic) swing straightahead and include superlative rhythm-section support from vibist Steve Nelson, pianist John Hicks, bassist John Menegon and drummer Winard Harper. “Hit the Road, Jack” offers Newman’s minor-key, Texas tenor bluesiness and speech-like phrasing.
These are all fine performances. They demonstrate that economy and nuance can carry plenty of emotional juice. They also suggest why Charles held Newman in such high regard.

Owen Cordle (JazzTimes)