Eubie Blake

Early Rare Recordings, Vol. 2

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The second and final volume of the early recordings of Eubie Blake with his partner, Noble Sissle (though Sissle's presence is limited to the second half of this disc only), first appeared on Blake's own label in 1976. While the overall condition of the source material isn't quite as good as the earlier album, it is still very enjoyable. The first several numbers feature Blake alone at the piano, with the ragtime finale "Baltimore Buzz" from their Broadway hit Shuffle Along, as well as several pop tunes of the day written by others. A medley of Vincent Youmans' "Oh Me! Oh My!" and Irving Berlin's "Say It With Music" is particularly remarkable, since its source was an unissued test pressing from Blake's own archives. Singer Irving Kaufman appears with Blake in "Sweet Lady," though his corny vocals pale compared to Sissle's of the period. "I'm Going Away Just to Wear You Off My Mind" represents Alberta Hunter's only meeting on record with Blake, though the partnership works very well. "My Blue Days Blew Over," with Blake leading an orchestra from his Broadway show Blackbirds of 1930, finds him backing another lightweight singer, Dick Robertson, though George Winfield's hot trumpet makes up for the vocalist's shortcomings. Another previously unreleased test pressing, "Ukulele Lullaby," features Sissle and Blake together. But their best work as a team in this volume is represented by their originals "I Just Simply Full of Jazz," "Low Down Blues," and "I Wonder Where My Sweetie Can Be?" The astonishing, well-preserved condition of the vintage discs and the excellent remastering make this collectable album worth acquiring.