Various Artists

Porgy and Bess/Cabin in the Sky

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This LP, issued by AEI (American Entertainment Industries, Inc.) under the auspices of the non-profit Council for Musical Theatre, presents, for historical purposes, recordings originally issued on 78 rpm discs in the 1940s, all associated with all-black Broadway musicals. Side one presents music from Porgy and Bess drawn from two sources. Pianist Cy Walter's "Medley" (actually separate recordings of "I Got Plenty o' Nuttin'," "Bess, You Is My Woman," and "There's a Boat Dat's Leavin' Soon for New York" tracked together) and nightclub singer Mabel Mercer's renditions of "Summertime," "My Man's Gone Now," and "I Loves You Porgy" made up an album issued by the Liberty Music Shop label in 1942. In 1947, Todd Duncan, who had played Porgy in the original 1935 Broadway production, recorded "I Got Plenty o' Nuttin'" and "Bess, O Where Is My Bess?" for Musicraft Records. Those two tracks are also included here. ("Bess, O Where Is My Bess?" has been renamed "Porgy's Lament.") Side two contains the tracks from a 1940 album by Ethel Waters, star of Cabin in the Sky, also released on the Liberty Music Shop label. After an overture performed by the pit orchestra from the musical and presided over by that orchestra's conductor, Max Meth, Waters steps in and sings four songs. "Takin' a Chance on Love," "Cabin in the Sky," and "Love Turned the Light Out" are all numbers she sang in the show, while "Honey in the Honeycomb" was performed on-stage by her character's rival, played by Katherine Dunham. Sound quality is iffy, as the tracks have been mastered directly from scratchy 78s. But the album will have value to collectors and musical theater buffs.

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