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Black Sabbath: The Secret Musical History of Black-Jewish Relations

3.7 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 14, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

The historical, political, spiritual, economic, and cultural connections between African- Americans and Jewish-Americans have long been a subject of rigorous attention. Books and articles focusing on the musical landscapes shared by African-Americans and Jews have been equally numerous; indeed, most general histories of American Popular Music even turn on the synergies of African-American & Jewish creativity, influence, and exchange, be it Tin Pan Alley, Klezmer, the Yiddish Theater, jazz, or R&B.

Yet, for all this attention, there has yet to be a one-stop musical source of evidence and exploration, a single CD release that succinctly and selectively gathers together the key songs that speak to the vibrant and often dazzling musical back-and-forth between the two communities. This collection explores the myriad ways Jews and African-Americans have coalesced, clashed, mobilized, and struggled with each other through a century s worth of extraordinary and fascinating musical performance that finds Jews performing African- American music and African-Americans performing Jewish music, and appealing to Jewish audiences. It moves from early performers like Slim Galliard singing about bagels and matzoh balls and Cab Calloway mixing Yiddish into his hepcat dictionary of jive, to Sonny Berman making 40s bebop he called Beautiful Jewish Music, Johnny Mathis singing Kol Nidre, and Aretha Franklin doing a 60s take on Swanee. Indeed, while much scholarly and media ink has been devoted to the Jewish attraction to African-American music, this anthology while surely demonstrating that will also focus on demonstrating the long history of African-American interest in Jewish musical practice, performance, and composition.

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. My Yiddishe Momme
  2. Utt Da Zay
  3. That Old Black Magic
  4. Baby, Baby
  5. Ich Hob Dich Tzufil Lieba
  6. Sholem
  7. Where Can I Go?
  8. Exodus
  9. Sabbath Prayer
  10. Swanee
  11. Now!
  12. Dunkin' Bagel
  13. Eretz Zavat Chalav
  14. Fiddler on the Roof Medley
  15. Kol Nidre


Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 14, 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Idelsohn Society
  • ASIN: B003XYL7FW
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #165,127 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

It's not exactly a surprise that American musical history is filled with the combined efforts of African-American performers and Jewish songwriters. But this fifteen track collection shows that these collaborations often intertwined the two communities' stories and struggles. Drawing together material across several decades, one hears tin pan alley, Jewish theater, and the borscht belt. Cab Calloway mixes Yiddish into his scat singing on "Utt-Da-Zy," and the blues of "Baby Baby" prove a natural fit for Libby Holman and Josh White. The arrangements range from spare folk to fully-orchestrated productions like Eartha Kitt's "Sholem," the funky soul of Marlena Shaw's "Where Can I Go" and the strut of Aretha Franklin's "Swanee." The set's highlight is a nearly ten-minute live medley by the Temptations in which they work through the songs of Fiddler on the Roof. [©2010 hyperbolium dot com]
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I bought this album after buying the label's Hanukkah disc and i was not disappointed. It is worth it alone just to here Nina Simone's track. Ecstatic Genius. A true gem.
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CD is wonderful, as is the well-researched companion booklet. Love the range of music and musicians featured.
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By Bevi on November 30, 2012
I love this album. I received it as a Hanukkah gift last year and haven't listened to it in a while. I am listening to it as I write this and I "kvel" - the selections and the artists are excellent! I can see my late "Yiddishe Momme" in my heart as I heard Billie Holiday sing so beautifully about her. And Eartha Kitt is amazing singing "Scholem Alechem." It was so good hearing her voice once again. The incredible Lena Horne was just singing - what a voice! She's singing "Hava Nagila" in a slower tempo and in English - never heard it this way and especially not in English before - thanks, Lena! There's some great humor here as well - check out "Dunkin Bagels" - reminds me of the Marx Brothers! And Nina Simone's Hebrew in "Eretz Zavat Chalav" (Land of Milk and Honey)is excellent!The Temptations jazzy medley of songs from "Fiddler on the Roof" bring back many wonderful memories from that show! It also brings back memories of my mother dancing with my son at his wedding to "Sunrise Sunset." Although I'm not crazy about falsetto singing, I still enjoyed hearing this version. Johnny Mathis is now singing "Kol Nidre" - very haunting - very cantoral - very beautiful!!! I've always enjoyed Johnny Mathis' singing but I have never heard his voice like this - thrilling - I've just replayed it three times!

I've just decided that I will be ordering this CD for my sister for Hanukkah! I know she will love it as much as I do!
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Containing the highlights from an exceptional exhibit at the San Francisco Jewish Museum, this CD explores a little known bond between African American singers and Jewish music going back to the early 20th Century. A real treasure.
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We know the way that Black jazz inspired Jewish musicians. Now listen to Black musicians who were inspired by and sang Jewish music. Haunting. I listen to this over and over.
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