On November 17, 2017, the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra and New World Records release Volume 3 of Black Manhattan, music by African-American composers active around the turn of the 20th century in New York City. Inspired by the extraordinary artistic vitality of the composers and musicians who formed the legendary Clef Club in NYC—such as James Reese Europe, Will Marion Cook, and the Johnson Brothers—Black Manhattan features the critically-acclaimed and authentic period performance of the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra joined by soprano Janai Brugger and banjo-player Paul Draper. Many of the composers on these albums are forgotten, but their important artistic contributions paved the way for the "Harlem Renaissance." 

Posted: Nov-3-2017
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This extended conversation with the PRO's Rick Benjamin is punctuated with several musical selections which confirm the polish of the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra while making this a meaningful contribution to Texas Public Radio's celebration of Black History Month.

Posted: Feb-23-2018
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Performers –

The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra
Rick Benjamin, conductor & piano
Janai Brugger, featured soprano
Andrea Jones, soprano
Chauncey Packer, tenor
Edward Pleasant, baritone
Paul Draper, minstrel banjoist

Track Listing:

Eubie Blake (1987-1983)
“I’m Just Wild About Harry” (one-step from Shuffle Along, 1921)
“Love Will Find A Way” (song from Shuffle Along, 1921) [soprano solo]

James Bland (1854-1911)
“Oh Dem Golden Slippers” (minstrel song, 1879) [baritone solo with minstrel band]

Frederick M. Bryan (1889-1929)
“The Dancing Deacon: Clef Club Fox-Trot” (1915)

Augustus L. Davis (1863-1899)
“In the Baggage Coach Ahead” (ballad, 1896) [tenor with piano]

Will H. Dixon (1879-1917)
“Delicioso: Tango Aristocratico” (1914)

J. Leubrie Hill (1873-1916 )
Overture to My Friend from Kentucky (aka The Darktown Follies) (1913)

Al. Johns (1879-1928)
“Ianthia March” (1902)

James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) &
J. Rosamond Johnson (1873-1954)
“Lift Every Voice and Sing: National Negro Hymn” (original 1900 score) [vocal quartette]

Scott Joplin (c.1867-1917)
“Wall Street Rag” (descriptive, 1909)

J. Turner Layton (1894-1978)
“Dear Old Southland” (from the black Broadway musical Strut, Miss Lizzie, 1921)
“After You’ve Gone” (one step, 1918)

Tom Lemonier (1869-1945)
“Just One Word of Consolation” (ballad, 1905) [tenor solo]

Sidney Perrin (c.1870-?)
“We’ll Raise the Roof To-Night” (cakewalk, 1904)

C. Luckeyth “Luckey” Roberts (1887-1968)
“The Tremolo Trot” (one-step, 1914)
“Pork and Beans Rag” (1913)
“Jewel of the Big Blue Nile” (song from the Harlem Lafayette Theatre musical Baby Blues, 1919)
[soprano solo]

Q. Roscoe Snowden (1887-1955)
“The Slow Drag Blues” [arr. William Grant Still] (1919)

Clarence Cameron White (1879-1960)
“I’m Goin’ Home” (spiritual setting, 1921)
“Chant” from The Bandana Sketches (op. 12, 1919)

Spencer Williams (1886-1965) &
Clarence Williams (1893-1965)
“Royal Garden Blues” [arr. Dave Peyton](fox trot, 1919)

Clarence G. Wilson (1888-?)
“The Zoo-Step” (dance from the Smart Set Co. production How Newtown Prepared, 1916)

Posted: Nov-17-2017
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Posted: Sep-8-2017