Black Manhattan, Vol. 2

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide
Black Manhattan was the title of essayist James Weldon Johnson's sketch of the African-American intelligentsia in Manhattan between the world wars. This release, the second of a pair, explores the music they would have heard there, especially in the 1910s decade. For general listeners, the chief attraction is the chance to hear ragtime as an audience of that time and place would have understood it. The rediscovery of ragtime through its greatest exponent, Scott Joplin, has tended to obscure the fact that for most listeners, at least in New York, it was an ensemble music and often a vocal one. Joplin appears only once here, with the "Pine Apple Rag Song" track 18, which consists of his famous "Pineapple Rag" with an ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide
Black Manhattan was the title of essayist James Weldon Johnson's sketch of the African-American intelligentsia in Manhattan between the world wars. This release, the second of a pair, explores the music they would have heard there, especially in the 1910s decade. For general listeners, the chief attraction is the chance to hear ragtime as an audience of that time and place would have understood it. The rediscovery of ragtime through its greatest exponent, Scott Joplin, has tended to obscure the fact that for most listeners, at least in New York, it was an ensemble music and often a vocal one. Joplin appears only once here, with the "Pine Apple Rag Song" track 18, which consists of his famous "Pineapple Rag" with an added and not terribly effective text. But that was the only way New York publishers would accept it. Most of the program consists of pieces by lesser-known composers for an ensemble of winds, strings, and percussion; some are rags, but several are waltzes, and the tango makes an appearance. There are some small gems here, such as the finale, Eubie Blake's "Fizz Water," with its delightful treatment of the emerging blue note. What was then called the blues makes only one appearance, with W.C. Handy's "Aunt Hagar's Children's Blues," and conductor and annotator Rick Benjamin correctly notes that for a New York audience of the time, it would have been quite a shock. Vocalist Linda Thompson Williams puts that shock across effectively, and really on the seven vocal piece the singers are uniformly good. The blackface idiom of the most famous piece on the album, Bert Williams' "Nobody," is very difficult to adapt for a modern audience, but baritone Edward Pleasant catches the song's layers of pain and finds his way effectively between ignoring and overemphasizing its dialect treatment. Both informative and entertaining, this is a strong entry in the still neglected field of pre-jazz, African-American music.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 12/11/2012
  • Label: New World Records
  • UPC: 093228073123
  • Catalog Number: 80731
  • Sales rank: 129,580

Album Credits

Performance Credits
The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra Primary Artist, Performing Ensemble
Robert Mack Tenor (Vocal)
Rick Benjamin Piano, Conductor
Arthur Sato Oboe
Linda Thompson Williams Vocals
Edward Pleasant Baritone (Vocal)
Anita Johnson Soprano (Vocal)
Technical Credits
Eubie Blake Composer
Scott Joplin Composer
W.C. Handy Composer
Tim Brymn Composer
Will Marion Cook Composer
Judith Sherman Producer, Engineer
Bert Williams Composer
James Reese Europe Composer
Wilbur Sweatman Composer
Rick Benjamin Liner Notes, Concept
Ford Dabney Songwriter, Composer
William Vodery Songwriter
Jeanne Velonis Engineer
Chris Smith Composer
Frederick Bryan Composer
J. Leubrie Hill Composer
Will H. Dixon Composer
Al. Johns Composer
Will Accooe Composer
James J. Vaughan Composer
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