Billboard Bits: Ray Charles, Fugazi, Pavarotti

News on Ray Charles, Fugazi, Pavarotti

Ray CharlesMusic fans can get a taste of some of Ray Charles' favorite recordings on the latest edition of Starbucks' "Artist's Choice" series. Produced by Hear Music, the 16-track collection boasts mostly jazz, with such greats as Duke Ellington ("Solitude"), Art Tatum ("How High the Moon"), Miles Davis ("My Funny Valentine"), and Ella Fitzgerald ("Mack the Knife") all represented. Also featured is Aretha Franklin's "Respect," Charles Brown's "Driftin' Blues," and the album closing "Always on My Mind" by Willie Nelson.

Charles' collection is the second in the "Artist's Choice" series, which launched earlier this year with a collection compiled by noted cellist Yo-Yo Ma. The discs retail for $12.95 in U.S. Starbucks Coffee outlets and the chain's Web site, and are also available via Hear Music stores. The next volume, due in September, will reflect some of the favorite songs of Lucinda Williams.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

On the heels of a short U.S. trek in March and April, pioneering Washington, D.C.-based underground outfit Fugazi has confirmed a 12-date U.K. trek, kicking off June 9 in Bristol. The tour concludes with a June 21-22 stand at the Forum in London. Upon its return to the States, Fugazi will play its annual free outdoor show in D.C.'s Fort Reno Park on July 1. The group's most recent Dischord album, "The Argument," debuted last November at No. 1 on Billboard's Heatseekers chart and No. 6 on Billboard's Top Independent Albums tally. The set has sold 66,000 copies in the U.S. to date, according to SoundScan.

June 9: Bristol, England (Academy) June 10: Brighton, England (Corn Exchange) June 11: venue/city TBA June 12: Nottingham, England (Rock City) June 13: Leeds, England (Metropolitan University) June 14: Glasgow (Barrowlands) June 16: venue/city TBA June 17: Limerick, Ireland (venue TBA) June 18: Dublin (Vicar Street) June 20: Manchester, England (venue TBA) June 21-22: London (the Forum) July 1: Washington, D.C. (Fort Reno Park)

Tenor Luciano Pavarotti has canceled a planned U.K. performance to train for the World Cup appearance. The Italian opera star is scheduled to participate in a Three Tenors concert at the tournament in Japan in late June and said he needed the time to rehearse. A Pavarotti spokesperson said the June 9 Manchester show had been postponed, adding that ticket-holders would be offered refunds or the chance to see the singer in Birmingham in October. This year's World Cup will be the third to feature a concert by the Three Tenors -- Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, and Jose Carreras. Last week, Pavarotti canceled two performances of "Tosca" at the New York Metropolitan Opera because he had the flu.

Copyright 2002 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.