Various Artist - Famous Blackbirds Revue
Various Artist - Famous Blackbirds Revue
Various Artist - Famous Blackbirds Revue (CD NEW)
Label: Halcyon (Uk)
Release Date: 15 Apr 2016
No. of Discs: 1
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Revues consisting entirely of black artists had been known and accepted with great enthusiasm on Broadway and nearby since Eubie Blake, the great jazz pianist and composer who died five days after his 100th birthday in February, 1983, and Noble Sissle directed "Shuffle Along" in 1921; in London, as long ago as 1903 (at the Shaftesbury Theatre on May 16 that year) "In Dahomey" had been presented, starring the great Bert Williams, and almost exactly twenty years later, at the London Pavilion on May 31, 1923, the curtain rose on a splendid Charles B. Cochran production for which half was performed by black musicians, singers and dancers. This was "Dover Street To Dixie", and it starred the late lamented Florence Mills of the sweet voice and feather-light dancing. &# 13; It was on September 11, 1926, that Cochran presented another all-black show, also at the Pavilion, called simply "Blackbirds". The cast again included Florence Mills, and featured the large show-band known simply as the Plantation Orchestra, It had been trained in New York by Will Vodery, who had directed the band in "Dover Street To Dixie", and featured the "hot" trumpet of Johnny Dunn. Although the show was a smash hit, running for 279 performances, only the first four tracks in this album were recorded. The chance to record the legendary Florence Mills was thus forever lost; within a few weeks of returning home to New York after "Blackbirds" closed, the "little blackbird" was dead, at the age of 32. The Orchestra on the showing of these records, which sold extremely well, was a close-knit, well-drilled but swinging unit, but with Johnny Dunn soloing only on Arabella's Wedding Day, though he can be heard riding on top of the band, so to speak, on all the others. Tall, polished and gifted with the ability to play jazz without obvious effort, Dunn was lionised by London society. The records were requested by critics from various periodicals, and were very well received by the public. Lew Leslie in New York was responsible for assembling and training the cast, but he did not have any success with similar material on Broadway until he presented "Blackbirds Of 1928" in the Liberty Theatre there on May 9, 1928, and it ran for 518 performances. It was full of great numbers, many of them subsequently becoming jazz classics. This show, by far the most popular of the series in America, is the one receiving the most coverage on records. Apart from the Plantation Orchestra's four sides, and tracks 7 and 8 on this CD, the entire recording is devoted to the 1928 production. Following the four 1926 titles recorded in London, we have two made by a similarly-constituted orchestra in 1928, but without Johnny Dunn. It says much for the popularity of the songs that they could be a commercial proposition on record three months after the first night of the show. These two were even issued in Germany! Strangely, in the last few weeks of 1932, and the first in 1933, it was considered worthwhile reviving on records issued as an album set, the best songs in the 1928 production, with Adelaide Hall from the original cast and an all-star supporting team. By 1932, record production in the USA had dropped almost beyond recall compared to that of the golden years of "Coolidge prosperity, " yet the "Blackbirds Of 1928" album still managed reasonable sales five years later (it was issued in the spring of 1933). In it we have not only the superlative Adelaide Hall, accompanied by Duke Ellington and his Orchestra in I Must Have That Man and Baby, but the Duke and his men also provide a perfect backing to the Mills Brothers in Diga Diga Doo (rather a saucy song for those days!) and Esme! Waters in I Can't Give You Anything But Love and Porgy, while the Mills Brothers sing Anything But Love by themselves, Doin' The New Low Down assisted by Don Redman, master arranger and excellent clarinet and sax player, and his Orchestra, and the vocal contortions of Cab Calloway, no less, and Harry and Donald Mills, again with Don Redman's orchestra, sing Shuffle Your Feet and Bandana Babies. Redman also ba
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