Baltimore born Eubie Blake (1883 - 1983) was a formidable ragtime pianist whose dynamic style influenced many of the later generation of stride players. He was also the writer of a number of hit songs with lyricist Andy Razaf.
This CD, the re-issue of two LPs released in 1985, is the best compilation currently available of Blake's talents.
Tracks 1 - 12 date from the sessions he recorded with fellow ragtime veterans Charlie Thompson and Joe Jordan for Bob Darch in 1960, and feature solo, duet and trio renditions of a mixture of Blake originals and ragtime standards. Blake solos are "Tricky Fingers" (actually "Troublesome Ivories"), "Dicties on 7th Avenue", the lyrical "Blue Thoughts" (a track which hints at his influence on Willie the lion Smith) and "Memories of You" (in Blake's frequently recorded concert version). The duets / trios are often delightful. Listen particularly to the trio of "Judge Fogarty" (better known as Jelly Roll Morton's "Buddy Bolden's Blues"), where Jordan, Thompson and Blake each take a chorus in their respective styles.
Tracks 12 - 23 are undated but sound to be from the 1960s. All are solos, and mix broadway tunes with some of Blake's ragtime showpieces. Highlights are "Troublesome Ivories" (actually "Tricky Fingers!) and the graceful "Classical Rag", Joe Jordan's "Lovie Joe" and two versions of "I'm Just Wild About Harry". The recording quality is not perfect but does not detract from the performances.
This is a welcome re-issue: Blake recorded extensively in the later 1960s - early 1970s but very little has so far appeared on CD. This CD goes some way to filling that gap. Recommended!