“Saturday night is your big night,” reflected the great bluesman Muddy Waters. “Everybody used to fry up fish and have one hell of a time. Find me playing till sunrise for 50 cents and a sandwich.” At their first gig together, Muddy and his friend Scott Bohaner were paid one dollar, given half a pint of moonshine, and each got a fish sandwich.
American violinist Rachel Barton Pine’s Blues Dialogues explores music of Black composers working across blues and classical traditions. Pine was a prodigy, debuting with the Chicago Symphony at age 10. Far from fish sandwiches and moonshine, she has had a celebrated career, and was the International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition’s youngest ever gold medal winner. But Pine is not merely pillaging the musical traditions of Black artists here; steeped in Chicago blues, she has been a decades-long champion of Black composers, and has dedicated an enormous amount of effort and time cataloguing the work of composers of colour.
Part of that project, the album contains works by living composers Dolores White, Errollyn Wallen, Charles Brown and Billy Childs, along with Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, William Grant Still, and Clarence Cameron White. A seemingly-obligatory Duke Ellington arrangement was probably superfluous. The standout work is Filter, from Daniel Bernard Roumain, brought to life in Pine’s dynamic and versatile performance.
Composer: Dolores White, Errollyn Wallen, Charles Brown and Billy Childs et al
Performer: Rachel Barton Pine v, Matthew Hagle p
Catalogue Number: Cedille CDR90000182