Eubie Blake

Volume 1: Featuring Ivan Harold Browning

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Eubie Blake launched his own record label in 1972 with this collection of piano solos and vocal duets. Side one of Volume 1: Featuring Ivan Harold Browning features five originals by pianist Eubie Blake, with "Dicty's on 7th Ave.," a challenging piece he wrote in his sixties during World War II to prove that he could appreciate modern harmony as he studied the Schillinger system, complete with whole tone chords! Also included is "Fizz Water," one of his earliest published ragtime compositions. The second side of the record is devoted to Blake's duets with singer Ivan Harold Browning, who appeared in the pianist's Broadway shows Shuffle Along and The Chocolate Dandies in the '20s. Browning, though approximately 80-years-old at the times of the recording sessions, is in great voice as he revisits Blake's memorable show tunes ("Good Night Angeline" and "Love Will Find a Way"), an original the singer co-wrote with Henry Starr in the '30s ("Jungle Nights in Gay Montmatre"), and the traditional gospel favorite "De Gospel Train." Blake provides terrific accompaniment and occasionally adds a harmony vocal, and steals the show a bit with his vocal encouragement and lively ragtime during "Roll Them Cotton Bales." Particularly enjoyable is the hilarious "Some Little Bug Is Going to Get You," a song which will be of no comfort to hypochondriacs, which Browning delivers with a campy style that approaches narration. Like almost of the titles in the Eubie Blake Music catalog, this highly recommended record lapsed from print not long after Blake's death in early 1983, so it will be somewhat challenging to find.

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