Black Manhattan, Vol. 2 / The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra, Rick Benjamin. Anita Johnson, Robert Mack and Edward Pleasant

Album Summary

>Blake, Eubie : Shuffle Along
>Williams, Bert : Nobody, song
>Sweatman, Wilbur : That's Got 'Em!, rag for piano (or orchestra)
>Johns, Al. : Honey Lamb, ballad for voice & piano
>Dixon, William : Brazilian Dreams, tango-intermezzo for orchestra
>Smith, Chris : Down in Honky Tonky Town, one-step for orchestra
>Cook, Will Marion : Returned, song
>Bryan, Frederick : The Bell Hop Rag, for piano (or orchestra)
>Accooe, Will : Black Patti Waltzes, for piano (or orchestra)
>Europe, James Reese : Goodnight Angeline, song
>Europe, James Reese : Castle Walk
>Handy, W.C. : Aunt Hagar's Children Blues
>Brymn, Tim : Valse angelique, for piano (or orchestra)
>Hill, J. Leubrie : At the Ball, That's All
>Vaughan, James J. : When the Moon Shines, song (from the 1904 revival of "In Dahomey")
>Dabney, Ford : Oh! You Devil, rag for piano (or orchestra)
>Dixon, William : Breath of Autumn, concert waltz for piano (or orchestra)
>Joplin, Scott : Pine Apple Rag, song for voice & piano
>Blake, Eubie : Fizz Water
Performers Conductor Ensembles Composers
Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Academy of Arts and Letters, New York City (06/01/2012-06/02/2012).

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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Works Details

>Blake, Eubie : Shuffle Along :: Overture
  • Performer: Arthur Sato (Oboe)
  • Conductor: Rick Benjamin
  • Ensemble: Paragon Ragtime Orchestra
  • Running Time: 6 min. 32 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern

>Williams, Bert : Nobody, song
  • Performer: Edward Pleasant (Baritone)
  • Conductor: Rick Benjamin
  • Running Time: 4 min. 55 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern

>Sweatman, Wilbur : That's Got 'Em!, rag for piano (or orchestra)
  • Conductor: Rick Benjamin
  • Running Time: 2 min. 29 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1919

>Johns, Al. : Honey Lamb, ballad for voice & piano
  • Performer: Anita Johnson (Soprano)
  • Conductor: Rick Benjamin
  • Running Time: 3 min. 29 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern

>Dixon, William : Brazilian Dreams, tango-intermezzo for orchestra
  • Conductor: Rick Benjamin
  • Running Time: 4 min. sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1914

>Smith, Chris : Down in Honky Tonky Town, one-step for orchestra
  • Conductor: Rick Benjamin
  • Running Time: 2 min. 8 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern

>Cook, Will Marion : Returned, song
  • Performers: Anita Johnson (Soprano); Rick Benjamin (Piano)
  • Conductor: Rick Benjamin
  • Running Time: 6 min. 27 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic

>Bryan, Frederick : The Bell Hop Rag, for piano (or orchestra)
  • Conductor: Rick Benjamin
  • Running Time: 3 min. 31 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern

>Accooe, Will : Black Patti Waltzes, for piano (or orchestra)
  • Conductor: Rick Benjamin
  • Running Time: 6 min. 18 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 1896

>Europe, James Reese : Goodnight Angeline, song
  • Performer: Robert Mack (Tenor)
  • Conductor: Rick Benjamin
  • Running Time: 3 min. 9 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1919

>Europe, James Reese : Castle Walk
  • Conductor: Rick Benjamin
  • Running Time: 2 min. 46 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern

>Handy, W.C. : Aunt Hagar's Children Blues
  • Performer: Linda Williams (Voice)
  • Conductor: Rick Benjamin
  • Running Time: 2 min. 40 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1920

>Brymn, Tim : Valse angelique, for piano (or orchestra)
  • Conductor: Rick Benjamin
  • Running Time: 3 min. 56 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1913

>Hill, J. Leubrie : At the Ball, That's All
  • Performer: Edward Pleasant (Baritone)
  • Conductor: Rick Benjamin
  • Running Time: 2 min. 38 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern

>Vaughan, James J. : When the Moon Shines, song (from the 1904 revival of "In Dahomey")
  • Performer: Anita Johnson (Soprano)
  • Conductor: Rick Benjamin
  • Running Time: 3 min. 53 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1904

>Dabney, Ford : Oh! You Devil, rag for piano (or orchestra)
  • Conductor: Rick Benjamin
  • Running Time: 3 min. 36 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1909

>Dixon, William : Breath of Autumn, concert waltz for piano (or orchestra)
  • Conductor: Rick Benjamin
  • Running Time: 3 min. 39 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1913

>Joplin, Scott : Pine Apple Rag, song for voice & piano
  • Performer: Anita Johnson (Soprano)
  • Conductor: Rick Benjamin
  • Running Time: 2 min. 50 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1910

>Blake, Eubie : Fizz Water
  • Conductor: Rick Benjamin
  • Running Time: 2 min. 25 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern