Eubie Blake

Early Rare Recordings, Vol. 1

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Eubie Blake had a series of ups and downs throughout a long career that only ended for good with his death in 1983 at the age of 100. Most of the original material from this album, written with singer and lyricist Noble Sissle, comes from their Broadway shows of the 1920s. The opening instrumental, "Baltimore Buzz," features Blake conducting an orchestra in what was originally the finale to the show Shuffle Along. It incorporates several major themes, especially "In Honeysuckle Time." Sissle's strong voice is accompanied by Blake alone for the ballad "Love Will Find a Way," with the pianist opening up a bit in the second chorus. "Oriental Blues" was conceived by a millionaire's request for an Oriental-themed song, though it was eventually incorporated into Shuffle Along. "Bandana Days" is highlighted by Blake's hot ragtime piano and Sissle's vaudeville remarks. Although the final eight tracks were popular songs of the day that this remarkable team was asked to record, none of these compositions measures up to those by Sissle and Blake. This extremely hard to find release, which has been unavailable since shortly after Blake's death, will be of great interest to his fans. The relatively noise-free condition of the source material is amazing, though like all acoustically (as opposed to later electrically) recorded discs, the sound is at a low level and somewhat compressed.

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