Various Artists: Black Sabbath- The Secret Musical History of Black-Jewish Relations

African-American performers sing Jewish songs

It’s not exactly a surprise that American musical history is filled with the combined efforts of African-American performers and Jewish songwriters. But this fifteen track collection shows that these collaborations often intertwined the two communities’ stories and struggles. Drawing together material across several decades, one hears tin pan alley, Jewish theater, and the borscht belt. Cab Calloway mixes Yiddish into his scat singing on “Utt-Da-Zy,” and the blues of “Baby Baby” prove a natural fit for Libby Holman and Josh White. The arrangements range from spare folk to fully-orchestrated productions like Eartha Kitt’s “Sholem,” the funky soul of Marlena Shaw’s “Where Can I Go” and the strut of Aretha Franklin’s “Swanee.” The set’s highlight is a nearly ten-minute live medley by the Temptations in which they work through the songs of Fiddler on the Roof (check here for video!). [©2010 hyperbolium dot com]

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