This one’s for the Honorary Mayor of Scotia, New York, and his pianistic pals.
I saw Eubie Blake a number of times in New York City between 1972 and a decade later: a Sunday-afternoon session at what used to be Nick’s, playing a barely tolerable upright; as guest artist at an outdoor concert, and at several Newport in New York concerts. To say that he was “a star” in inadequate; he was the whole show, exuberant, declamatory, his playing rhapsodic, sly, bombastic, hilarious. In short, unforgettable — and not because of his age, but because of his enthusiasm, his pure joy, his delight in making music.
Here are two performances: one, a single song, the other, nearly an hour, performed at the “Grande Parade du Jazz,” the Nice Jazz Festival. MEMORIES OF YOU, the Sissle and Blake composition, was performed on July 18, 1975, and broadcast on French television as part of an anthology of piano performances by Teddy Wilson, Earl Hines, Dorothy Donegan, and their groups. Eubie stood alone:
What follows I think few people have seen: recorded in July 1978 (I don’t know the exact date) but never broadcast. “It’s like having Eubie in your living room,” my friend Sterling says, and who would disagree? The songs are RUSTLE OF SPRING / RAGTIME SCARF DANCE / PILGRIM’S CHORUS (in E major) / THE MERRY WIDOW WALTZ / MEMORIES OF YOU / Excerpts from RHAPSODY IN BLUE and THE MAN I LOVE / CHARLESTON RAG / “Shuffle Along” Medley: BANDANA DAYS – LOVE WILL FIND A WAY – GYPSY BLUES – I’M JUST WILD ABOUT HARRY / MAPLE LEAF RAG — and Eubie sings on the Medley:
Endearing, versatile, rocking, lyrical: a wonderful spectacle Eubie was.
May your happiness increase!