various artists,
That Old Black Magic
(Morningstar, 2003)

In the 1950s, CBC's Toronto studios were a safe haven for black performers seeking to promote their art away from the segregated United States. Black jazz, R&B and pop stars appeared in variety shows produced there.

The new DVD That Old Black Magic is culled from high-quality kinescopes compiled as part of the studio's 50th anniversary. Thanks to the CBC archives department, we now get taken back to that golden era for a short narrated biography and performances from a playfully nimble Cab Calloway doing "Minnie the Moocher," Dinah Washington singing the Bessie Smith murder ballad "Send Me to the 'Lectric Chair," smooth Billy Eckstine on "September Song" and opera star Marion Anderson. Also featured are Ella Fitzgerald and Della Reese. Sampled from variety shows are appearances by Sammy Davis Jr. and Nat King Cole.

The main star is Duke Ellington. We get five songs from Ellington as he opens and closes this excellent DVD.

- Rambles
written by Tom Schulte
published 31 May 2003

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