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Ehud Asherie: Shuffle Along

Dan McClenaghan By

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Israeli-born pianist Ehud Asherie delves deep into a quintessentially American Music on Shuffle Along. The score for the 1921 Broadway musical—tunes that were crafted before the beginning of a true "Popular" recording industry—was groundbreaking. Written by Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle, Shuffle Along, with an all-black cast, was the first Broadway production that treated African Americans a serious characters, as something other than caricatures.

Asherie draws on his knowledge of ragtime, stride, bebop and modern jazz to to give these these near century old tunes a contemporary luster. The jaunty "Gypsy Blues" opens the set. Asheire investigates the wrinkles twists of the tune with an ebullient flair, giving off the vibe of an early 20th century Harlem night. "I'm Just wild About Harry," certainly the most famous of the Blake/Sissle compositions, is infused by Asheirie, in its opening, with a stateliness that evolves in the modern jazz direction before the pianist moves into a straight rendering of the melody. "Everything Reminds Me Of You," with it's luxuriant harmonies and Asherie's deft and light keyboard touch, brings the ever classy piano titan Ahmad Jamal to mind.

Eubie Blake—who died in 1983 at the age of 96—was an irrepressible personality who maintained a high career profile that helped keep his music alive into the 1970s via frequent television appearances on numerous television talk shows. His music, too, was/is irrepressible—uplifting and buoyant in the quicker tempos, and unabashedly, sentimentally beautiful in the ballads. And it was/is timeless. Ehud Asherie has taken this Blake/Sissle work of art and put his own musical personality—one that seems every bit as rhapsodical as Blake's—into the mix with admirable and enchanting results.

Track Listing: Gypsy Blues; I'm Just wild About Harry; Everything reminds Me Of You; I'm Cravin' For That Kind of Love; Bandana Days; I'm Just wild About Harry (Waltz); If You've Never Been Vamped By A Brownskin; Goodnight Angeline; Love Will Find A Way.

Personnel: Ehud Asherie: piano.

Title: Shuffle Along | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Blue Heron Records

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