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February 8, 2005

My annual Black History Month show, featuring black composers and performers.

Selection Source Performer(s) Comments
Ron Pentecost Somewhere Over the Radio Stevens and Grdnic He's not affiliated with the Columbia University, the Columbia School of Broadcasting, or anyone else.
Reefer Man Cab Calloway - The Best of the Big Bands Cab Calloway This tribute to toking also shows up in the 1933 film International House (although for many years it was cut when the film was shown on TV). Calloway didn't actually make it to Broadway until 1953, when he appeared as Sportin' Life in a revival of Porgy and Bess. He also starred opposite Pearl Bailey in an all-black version of Hello Dolly on Broadway in 1964.
The Jumpin' Jive Cab Calloway - The Best of the Big Bands Cab Calloway Here's a good example of Calloway's scat-singing "hep cat" persona.
What's Buzzin' Cousin? Cab Calloway - Are You Hep to the Jive? Cab Calloway This one is in much the same vein; it's from the 1942 film Song of the Islands.
Honeysuckle Rose (a la Bach-Beethoven-Brahms-Waller) The Joint is Jumpin' Fats Waller Recorded May 13, 1941, this gives Waller a chance to show of the classical chops he learned in his youth
African Ripples The Joint is Jumpin' Fats Waller Recorded November 16, 1934, this is another example of Waller's keyboard virtuosity.
Viper's Drag/The Reefer Song Ain't Misbehavin' (OC 1978) Andre De Shields We just can't get away from that drug theme, apparently. This exuberant celebration of the music and personality of Fats Waller opened May 6, 1978 on Broadway and ran for 1,604 performances.
Baltimore Buzz American Musical Theater Vol. 1 Noble Sissle Recorded March 8, 1921, this is from the hit Shuffle Along - the first Broadway show written, produced and performed by black Americans. Eubie Blake provided the music, Sissle the lyrics.
The Charleston Rag Sweet Sixteenths: a Ragtime Concert William Albright From 1899, this tricky and complicated piece was composed by Eubie Blake when he was only 16. It sounds like something that might have been written 15 years later in its anticipation of stride piano and boogie.
Eubie's Classical Rag Wild About Eubie Eubie Blake Blake had a life-long love of ragtime, as this composition clearly indicates. He was in his 90s when he wrote it and this performance dates from 1978 when he was 95!
Fred Purdue's Chicken Commercial The Best of the National Lampoon Radio Hour Tom Leopold It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken!
Doin' the New Low Down American Musical Theater Vol. 1 Bill "Bojangles" Robinson This is from the revue Blackbirds of 1928 in which (unlike Shuffle Along) only the performers were black. When Robinson made this first appearance for white audiences (at the age of 50!), he had already been a star of black musical comedy for 25 years.
Bojangles of Harlem Starring Fred Astaire Fred Astaire On screen (in the 1936 film Swing Time) this is an embarrassing bit, with Astaire doing a "tribute" to Robinson in black face.
You Mustn't Be Discouraged Fade Out Fade In (OC 1964) Tiger Haynes and Carol Burnett Down on her luck and reduced to impersonating Shirley Temple, would-be actress Hope Springfield (Burnett) meets a former co-star (Haynes) who is also down on his luck. They try to take their minds off their troubles in this number, which parodies the real Robinson/Temple parings of the 1930s.
The Uncle Huck-a-Buck Song Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk (OC 1996) Baakari Wilder, Ann Duquesnay, Savion Glover (tap) This considerably less charitable parody concentrates on the injustice Robinson suffered at the hands of Hollywood producers, who paid their child star (and future fascist) far more than the experienced and more talented adult.
Valentin's Message Kiss of the Spider Woman (OS 1985) William Hurt and Raul Julia "Don't ever let anyone exploit you again." It seemed appropriate here.
The Brown Hornet in Chapter 7 of the Teeny-Weenie Holdup Man Murder Case Bill Cosby Radio Show Bill Cosby The Brown Hornet and Leroy pick up the dog try to get the car started. Let's not forget that a long time ago in a galaxy far away, Bill Cosby was not only funny but edgy to boot.
Onion Radio News 15 The Onion's Finest News Reporting Doyle Redland Civil War Enthusiasts Burn Atlanta to the Ground
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Chapter 9 ("The Mock Turtle's Story") Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Cyril Ritchard, New York Woodwind Quintet Alice endures moral advice from The Duchess including "the more there is of mine, the less there is of yours" (the Duchess apparently was something of a neocon) and a mournful story from the Mock Turtle.
Physics 183 The Ten Minute University John Moschitta It's an explosive subject
Car Cheese Commercial Intro The Best of the National Lampoon Radio Hour Windy Craig Is your car getting enough cheese?
Listen to the interview (MP3 format)!<
Self Joan Lipkin, Chuck Lavazzi Joan talks about February 28th performance by The DisAbility Project and The National Society of Arts and Letters competition for young actors, Acting for Comedy. For more information check the web links or send e-mail to>
Sweetened History Give Us a Break Proctor and Bergman The History of the United Sacks of Sugar.
Selections from Treemonisha Silks and Rags The Great American Main Street Band Scott Joplin died without ever seeing a fully staged production of his opera. It was only 60 years later, after composer and music historian Gunther Schuller prepared a performing edition, that audiences finally got to see Treemonisha. A 1976 production by the Houston Grand Opera led to many others, including one by Opera Theatre of St. Louis a few years ago.
King Joe Harlem Song (OC 2002) Queen Esther, B.J. Crosby In his first match with Joe Louis in 1936, German boxer Max Schmeling (who died this past week at the age of 91) beat the champ. When they met in the ring again two years later the stakes (especially the political ones) were higher, with Schmeling cast in the role of the Third Reich's champion. Louis decked him in one round. This is one of many songs from the period celebrating Louis' victory.
Shake Harlem Song (OC 2002) David St. Louis, Company This Sam Cooke number becomes a mini-history of Harlem in the 1960s, from hope to despair.
The Tree of Life Harlem Song (OC 2002) B.J. Crosby, Company It leads into this gospel number by Pamela Warrick-Smith...
One Word Harlem Song (OC 2002) David St. Louis, Queen Esther, Company ..which leads, in turn, to this affirmation of Harlem's past and present by Zane Mark and writer/director George C. Wolfe. Harlem Song was staged to celebrate the re-opening of the Apollo Theatre in 2002. Wolfe is a noted writer and director, with multiple Tony awards to his credit.

Acronyms and other mysteries defined:

OC: Unless otherwise indicated, the Original Cast recording of a Broadway show, along with the date.

OS: Unless otherwise indicated, the Original Soundtrack recording of a film, TV show, etc.

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