EUBIE BLAKE, Cab Calloway, Chick Webb. They and countless other Baltimore jazz greats will be honored at the Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center, which dedicates its new home on Howard St. this weekend.
Friday's grand opening and Sunday's family day highlight the new possibilities of the Eubie Blake center, which has been leading a vagabond existence ever since a fire in 1993 forced it out of its previous home.
With 21,000 square feet in a building that once was part of the Maryland General Hospital, the Eubie Blake center will finally have room to thrive and grow. A 150-room auditorium, rehearsal rooms, indoor and outdoor exhibit spaces are some of the amenities of the building, which has undergone a $1.8 million renovation.
The list of talented Baltimore jazz artists is long. Ethel Ennis, Bill Kenny (of the Ink Spots), Ellis Larkins and Cyrus Chestnut are among the best known. Then there is Billie Holliday, who was not born here, but whom this city has adopted as its own.
The list gets even longer if pop music figures such as Mama Cass Elliott are included.
The reopened Eubie Blake center will pay tribute to all Baltimore jazz men and women. Debates will no doubt rage among visitors as to who was or is the best or most underrated.
Our nomination for the hippest goes to Cab Calloway, the ultimate showman. He was constantly on the cutting edge. Evidence: Many of the expressions in his 1940s "Hipster's Dictionary" are still in use.
By the hip-hop generation.