Ken Bloom on Sissle & Blake Sing Shuffle Along

Ken Bloom

Here’s Harbinger’s Grammy Award-winning recording of Shuffle Along featuring the show’s composers, Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle, as well as members of the original cast exactly as heard on Broadway in 1921 though many of the cuts were recorded by the composers in 1950, making the sound exemplary.
 
Shuffle Along, was the most successful Broadway show of its time. The score contained the future standards “I’m Just Wild About Harry” and “Love Will Find a Way.” It marked the emergence of a new black musical theatre. It desegregated theatres in New York and across the country, the first time blacks and whites could sit together in a theatre.

The show transformed Broadway. Business was so good that three weeks into the run the company cancelled the Wednesday matinees and added Wednesday midnight performances that were heavily attended by theatrical folk. A few weeks later, all the matinees were cancelled. Shuffle Along soon grew into the most successful show playing on Broadway with a weekly gross averaging $13,000 a week against $7,500 in weekly expenses (once the show was a verified smash the top ticket price was raised to $3.00). Shuffle Along finally closed after playing 504 performances, an astounding run at the time. It was so successful that the 63rd Street, where the show played, was made into a one-way street to alleviate the traffic jams along Broadway and Central Park West.

This is the only available recording of Shuffle Along’s jazzy score. And the Grammy Award-winning liner notes by Ken Bloom and Richard Carlin give the full history of the show and the recordings.

It’s a must for all fans of musical theatre, jazz aficionados who will thrill at authentic 1920s jazz, and anyone interested in the amazing history of black musicals at the beginning of the 20th Century.

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