EUBIE BLAKE by Al Rose

EUBIE BLAKE

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A pleasant, affectionate, no-surprises little biography of adorable 96-year-old composer Eubie--who, as has become well-known during his recent years of celebrity, started out as a teenage piano-player in a Baltimore ""hookshop"" (to his mother's horror), went on to costar with lyricist-singer Noble Sissle in the first no-cork black vaudeville act, and conquered Broadway with 1921's shoe-string-produced, black-but-unbowed Shuffle Along (""I'm Just Wild About Harry""). True, lots of this territory has already been covered in Reminiscing with Sissle and Blake (1973), but Eubie has supplied biographer Rose with some fresh memories and some sassy quotes (on Ethel Waters: ""she got religion worse than my mother""); and there's more here than elsewhere about Eubie's later years--return to music studies at age 63, devotion to second wife Marion, his long-life formula of sugar and cigarettes and no exercise, and the recent attentions from TV and Broadway. About the music itself, however, there's disappointingly little serious treatment; on the rags especially, other commentators (Blesh, Jasen & Tichnor) are shrewder critics and historians. A friendly celebrity profile, then--almost YA in tone--that hits all the expected marks efficiently without adding much to the public record.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1979
Publisher: Schirmer/Macmillan