Don't Give The Name A Bad Place

Composer(s): David Braham, Edward Harrigan, William Jerome, Jean Schwartz, Karl Kennett, Lyn Udall, Gus Williams, James A. Bland, Will Marion Cook, Barney Fagan
Album Title: Don't Give The Name A Bad Place 
Cat. No.: 80265
Genre: Musical Theater/Opera
Description: Types and Stereotypes in American Musical Theater 1870 - 1900

Max Morath; Danny Barker; Clifford Jackson; Dick Hyman-piano and conductor

In this time of charged debate about immigration and the concomitant stereotyping of minorities, this collection of fourteen songs drawn from musicals and minstrel shows reminds us that the habit of stereotyping has been with us longer than we care to remember. Musical snapshots of prevailing attitudes towards certain minorities at the turn of the century, these songs are revealing in what they say about America then and now.

Edward Harrigan's five songs about the Irish are affectionate, wistfully nostalgic vignettes of Irish life on the Lower East Side. Only John Riley's Always Dry comes close to sheer stereotype - poking fun at their noted weakness for a fine brew - but the tone is without malice.

The three songs by Gus Williams, one of the era's best-loved exponents of "Dutch" (derived from Deutsch) or mock-German humor, are also in a gently mocking vein. The title song, Don't Give de Name A Bad Blace, lampoons the Dutchy's tendency to scramble words and meanings and wind up totally befuddled by simple things - another era indeed!

Jean Schwartz's Rip van Winkle Was a Lucky Man is a brilliant and biting piece of social commentary - better to sleep for twenty years than endure the hardships of immigrant life!

The remaining songs are notorious minstrel or coon songs - staples of the traveling minstrel shows which provided steady work for black entertainers and composers. Along with W.C.Handy, James Bland was the foremost black songwriter of his day and is now regarded to be the equal of Stephen Foster. Author of many songs often credited to Foster, Carry Me Back to Old Virginny, In the Evening by the Moonlight, Oh, Dem Golden Slippers, among others, Bland is represented here by two songs, one of them the poignant Tell ‘Em I'll Be There. Will Marion Cook, a classically trained composer who also wrote popular music, contributes Darktown Is Out Tonight, the rousing opening number from Clorindy, the Origin of the Cakewalk, the first all-black musical comedy to succeed on Broadway.

The performances by Max Morath, Danny Barker, and Clifford Jackson are sensitive and stylish and bring these songs vividly to life. The accompanying 36-page booklet contains an extensive essay which situates the songs in their cultural and historical context, complete lyrics, and a selected bibliography. 
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