Black Manhattan Volume 2

World Premiere recordings of music by
New York’s pioneering African-American composers, 1896-1921

The sequel to the Orchestra’s acclaimed 2003 recording Black Manhattan


$15.00 USD

(New World Records 80731-2):

Performed by the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra, Rick Benjamin conductor;
featuring Anita Johnson, soprano; Robert Mack, tenor; Edward Pleasant, baritone;
Linda Thompson Williams, Blues singer.


“If PRO is not already labeled a national treasure, it should be. This disc is treasurable.
The soloists are equally accomplished. Benjamin’s notes are more than informative;
they’re invaluable….
Black Manhattan, Volume 2 is a must.”
– Fanfare magazine

“… a truly spectacular package that performs a great service
to the advancement of the study of American music.”

Black Grooves


This is the second volume of the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra’s tribute to the great African-American composers of late 19th and early 20th century New York. Again inspired by James Weldon Johnson’s famous book Black Manhattan, this new PRO recording brings to life more of the amazing sounds that profoundly influenced the course of American music.

Paragon’s Black Manhattan Volume 1 centered on music composed by members of the legendary Clef Club. Volume 2 has a wider range stylistically, offering music from the theater, ballroom, and recital stage. Of great value is the music composed especially for the pioneering African-American theatrical companies – including the Black Patti Troubadours, Williams & Walker, The Smart Set, and productions from Harlem’s famed Lafayette Theatre.

The composers featured here were celebrities in their own time: Willis Accooe, Frederick M. Bryan, Will H. Dixon, J. Leubrie Hill, Al. Johns, Wilbur Sweatman, James J. Vaughan, and Bert Williams. For a century historians have recognized and discussed their importance, but until now almost none of their music was available on recordings. The remaining three names – Joplin, Eubie Blake, and W.C. Handy – are still famous, but surprisingly, even some of their key works had not been recorded. On this CD Blake’s music for the epoch-making musical Shuffle Along (widely credited with sparking the Harlem Renaissance) crackles back to life for the first time since 1923; Handy’s seminal Blues is heard exactly as he penned it, and Joplin shows surprising flair as a pop songwriter.

Produced by multi-Grammy Award winning “Classical Producer of the Year” Judith Sherman, this album is an extraordinary voyage of discovery for everyone interested in American music.


$15.00 USD



Click here to learn about PRO’s BLACK MANHATTAN VOL. 1


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