Modern Fix

DVD REVIEWS

back to DVD reviews home Artist: Various Artists Title: That Old Black Magic Label: Morningstar Entertainment

In the 1950s, CBC’s Toronto studios were a safe haven for black performers seeking to promote their art away from the segregated United States. Black jazz, R&B and pop stars appeared in variety shows produced there. This DVD culls from high-quality kinescopes compiled as part of the studio’s 50th anniversary. Thanks to the CBC Archives Department, we now get taken back to that golden era for a short narrated biography and performances from a playfully nimble Cab Calloway (“Minnie the Moocher”), Dinah Washington singing Bessie Smith murder ballad “Send Me to the ‘Lectric Chair”, smooth Billy Eckstine (“September Song”) and opera star Marion Anderson. Also featured are Ella Fitzgerald and Della Reese. Sampled from variety shows are appearances by Sammy Davis, Jr. and Nat King Cole. The main star is Duke Ellington. We get five songs from Ellington as he opens and closes this excellent DVD.

Tom “Tearaway” Schulte