Paul Robeson

The Essential Paul Robeson [ASV/Living Era]

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Vocalist, orator, athlete, thespian and political activist Paul Robeson (1898-1976) is properly honored with a double-CD Living Era tribute album of historical recordings made between 1925 and 1947. Paul Robeson was part opera singer and part Shakespearian actor; he was also, in equal proportions, a master interpreter of songs from the gospel, folk, blues and jazz traditions. Paul Robeson had a lot in common with Russian basso Feodor Chaliapin. Paul Robeson was also the living embodiment of the phrase "Black Is Beautiful." This outstanding compilation opens with Robeson's 1932 studio recording of "Ol' Man River" and five beautifully rendered spirituals recorded during the mid-'20s with Lawrence Brown at the piano; Brown sings a duet with Robeson on a positively swinging, upbeat version of "Joshua Fit de Battle ob Jericho," and is heard again elsewhere in the compilation accompanying the singer at various junctures throughout Robeson's career. Most of the material reissued here was originally recorded in London, England with orchestras under the leadership of Ray Noble, Muir Mathieson, and Clifford Greenwood. The producers of this tribute chose a well-rounded spectrum of genre recordings; Robeson sings spirituals, folk songs, show tunes, Americana, Duke Ellington's "Solitude" and various Tin Pan Alley pop tunes. There's even a six-and-one-half-minute blues dedicated to Joe Louis with accompaniment by Count Basie and his orchestra. Seldom does the word "essential" seem as appropriate as it does here; these are indeed most of the essential recordings of Paul Robeson.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 4:19
2 2:59
3 1:57
4 3:05
5 2:50
6 2:25
7 2:43
8 3:23
9 3:31
10 3:32
11 3:24
12 3:15
13 3:02
14
2:52
15 3:23
16 3:29
17 3:07
18 3:00
19 3:13
20 2:53
21 2:36
22 2:32
23 2:37
24
2:45
25 3:12

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:53
2 2:18
3 2:07
4 3:31
5 2:46
6 3:03
7 2:47
8 3:12
9 3:25
10 3:05
11 3:26
12 3:13
13 3:24
14 3:20
15 2:25
16 2:51
17 2:30
18 2:25
19 2:42
20
2:33
21 2:00
22 2:11
23 6:28
24 3:20
25 3:24
blue highlight denotes track pick