Black Sabbath: Secret Musical History of Black
Idelsohn Society For Musical Preservation
The entertainment connection between Blacks and Jews goes far, far deeper than Sammy Davis Jr. There’s been plenty of cross-fertilization over the decades, and this unique collection rescues 15 cuts from 78 rpm obscurity. Some cuts jar and some will make you laugh, but all will open your eyes. We begin with a live recording of Billie Holiday wringing every last bit of guilt and pathos out of “My Yiddishe Momme.” Her audience is small and live and they know her personally — it might even be part of the fabled Rat Pack. Cab Calloway follows with the upbeat “Utt Da Zay,” and Johnny Hartman with a full Vegas jazz arrangement puts up a nice copy of “That Old Black Magic.” The audio quality of this particular cut isn’t spectacular, but when he cuts to the Caribbean “Matilda” you can smell the stale smoke and spilled martinis of a backroom show lounge. As the final notes fade, you’re immediately swooshed away to the Mississippi Delta with “Baby, Baby” by Libby Holman and Josh White. The surface scratches of the aged shellac reek of authenticity, and I’ll remind you they once pressed music on the stuff. If you dissolved a disc in good gin, you could use it to finish your furniture to a high gloss.
Oy, I could kvell all day — there’s Cannonball Adderley blowing “Sabbath Prayers” on alto sax, Johnny Mathis belting out “Kol Nidre,” Lena Horne singing for Civil Rights to “Hava Nagila,” and the Temptations with their little-heard “Fiddler On the Roof Medley.” Yeah, these cuts are lo-fi and a bit musty, but they entertained two generations of music lovers of all persuasions, and it’s great to see groups like the Idelsohn Society keeping them alive for the digital age. Sampling? Did anyone say sampling? You’ll need to check if these are in the public domain on your own.
Idelsohn Society: www.idelsohnsoociety.com