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Arts & Entertainment

Peter Stenshoel reviews Lew Leslie's Blackbirds of 1928

Jerry Gorin/KPCC

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The longest running all-black show on Broadway, Blackbirds of 1928 is a great historic document. Lew Leslie, an émigré whose family was Russian, started staging his Blackbirds shows on Broadway in 1926. Several careers were started from these shows, including those of Lena Horne, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, and the great Ellington vocalist, Adelaide Hall.

1928’s staging was the most successful. Subsequently, a sterling set of recordings were issued on 78 rpm discs, while performances were collected on this 33 rpm disc.

One of my favorites, recorded in 1933, is Don Redman’s Orchestra in a medley of Shuffle Your Feet and Bandanna Babies. Enjoy!