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From Avenue A to the Great White Way: Yiddish & American Popular Songs From 1914-1950 Original recording remastered

4.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording remastered, April 30, 2002
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From Avenue A to the Great White Way is a two-CD set that collects 50 songs tracing the early recorded history of Jewish music in New York and the subsequent influence that music had on American popular song. Henry Sapoznik, the producer of The Yiddish Radio Project series that appeared on PBS, compiled the tracks. He's unearthed some fascinating items, including rare recordings from early stars of the Yiddish theater such as Molly Picon, a klezmer piece by Abe Schwartz, and a beautifully operatic performance from the cantor Yossele Rosenblatt. Among his most interesting finds are the previously unreleased track from 1914 of Irving Berlin singing his song "What Am I Gonna Do?" and a vocal group from 1933 known as the Funnyboners singing the obscure Gershwin tune "Mischa-Yascha-Toscha-Sascha." Sapoznik's excellent liner notes do a fine job of connecting the dots between such seemingly disparate songs as the 1928 Yiddish song "Inzer Rebin's Vunder (Our Rabbi's Wonder)" and Cab Calloway's 1939 swing tune "Utt-Da-Zay (That's the Way)." While it would have been nice to have translation of the Yiddish lyrics, that is just a minor quibble with what is a otherwise intriguing survey of long overlooked part of American musical history. --Michael Simmons
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 30, 2002)
  • Original Release Date: April 30, 2002
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: Sony Legacy
  • Run Time: 149 minutes
  • ASIN: B00006640B
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #282,923 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Darn that pernicious Jewish influence in American music. (hehe) If there was a Grammy for this category, Henry Sapoznik and his posse would receive it without question. The CD's are made to look like an old Columbia 78 RPM. The 14 page liner notes are very good; they include photos of the most famous singers, and a picture of "vaudeville" in Yiddish characters and a line outside The Grand Theater's "King Lear." They exclude the lyrics, however. After listening to the first CD three times, I was ready to move on to the second CD. Is this Himmel? You bet! Let's not forget that the Yiddish Theater of Manhattan's Second Avenue had Shakespeare and musicals while Broadway was in the dark ages of entertainment, awaiting O'Neill. Sapoznik has compiled 50 pieces from newly found vaulted stampers, including: a very sexy English and French piece by Al Jolson (Hooray Baby and Me); Julien Rose's Chicken story; a previously unissued version of "Mischa Yascha Toscha Sascha" (1933) by the Funnyboners (Gershwins and others) with apologies to Jack Benny; "Roumania Roumania" by Aaron Lebedeff (1941); "Bei Mir Bis Du Schon" by Belie Baker (1937); and "What Am I Gonna Do?" (1914) by Irving Berlin (never released before). Yoselle Rosenblatt is the soloist in "V'Hakohanim" (1916); and Molly Picon sings "Ihr Megt Gleybn Oder Neyn" in a previously unissued performance from 1933. "Yes, Sir, Zi Iz May Kale (Yes Sire She's My Bride/Baby)" is sung by Peisachke Burstein (1925). Eddie Cantor sings "Palesteena" (1920), and one wonders if there are some hidden meanings in the words. Abe Schwartz appears with his 1918 "Der Shtiller Bulgar," a current standard of every klezmer group. "Yosel," a Yiddish standard, is performed by Nellie Casman in Yiddish (1923).Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
If not for this album, one might never have known that Fannie Brice was sent to the lower east side of New York so she could sound more stereotypically Jewish, or that Jewish vaudeville performers found success in "best Hebe contests" and songs like "Cohen Owes Me Ninety-Seven Dollars." This is the world of From Avenue A to the Great White Way: Yiddish and American Popular Songs from 1914-1950. The double CD set has extensive liner notes and photos acting almost like an historical document into a world that, for better or worse, many younger Jewish people inherited but never knew existed.
If you remember Molly Goldberg calling "yoo-hoo" on the old radio show The Goldbergs then you'll probably remember Eddie Cantor singing about Leena from Palestina. That's just one of the oldies featured, many of which sound like and come from the same era as You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile from the musical Annie.
The double CD set begins with the old style Yiddish theater songs from people like Molly Picon and David Medoff. It continues chronologically hitting upon the vaudeville era and into the jazz age.
Many tunes seem self-depreciating like Since Henry Ford Apologized to Me and When Nathan Was Married to Rose of Washington Square. Other tracks are by non-Jewish performers who jumped on the bandwagon like Cab Calloway of Minnie the Moocher fame and Slim Galliard with a song called Matzo Balls. The album ends with Jewish jazz performers such as Benny Goodman and Gene Krupa.
Although well known performers such Al Jolson and Irving Berlin are here, most of the tracks have been completely forgotten or lost making this a collection of things one has either never heard before or only heard on the radio when they first came out.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is a delightful collection of performances showing the development and influence of Jewish music in America. Great price. Great performances. Lots of fun.
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