Seeing its release today is the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra’s third volume in its “Black Manhattan” series on New World Records. The group specializes in neglected works by African American musicians from the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries. The sum total of their efforts on all three of their recordings is some sixty pieces by thirty-two composers.
The recording supplies abundant variety to enjoy: ebullient dances, reflective blues, and uplifting renditions of Gospel hymns. It has only created one “problem” for me: it is so good, now I will have to acquire copies of the their first two volumes!
Contemporary soul singer Charles Bradley has died at the age of 68. The cause was cancer. He will be remembered as the finest shouter in blues, funk, and soul circles since James Brown.
Mose Allison, one of the great blues singer-songwriters, and a superlative piano player, has died. Allison mixed Beatnik wordplay, boogie-woogie, bebop, and a sardonic sense of current events to craft an amalgamated, distinctive style. His songs were covered often and were durable enough to withstand a variety of approaches. I saw him play at the Iron Horse in Northampton, Massachusetts in the mid-nineties: his wit, sense of traditional styles (and how he could fit them all together), pacing, and syncopated rhythms were revelatory.