A pianist who primarily worked as a session musician, first for Derby Records where he supported Freddie Mitchell and got a release of his own with the same personnel, then managing to use parlay that into a contract as a featured artist on Coral Records when the Decca subsidiary was trying to branch out into rock ‘n’ roll. Mitchell went with him – violating his own contract – too moonlight on Black’s records making them essentially Freddie Mitchell records under someone else’s name.

His work behind Mitchell on Derby was usually the worst aspect of the records as he was apparently instructed to play only the extreme treble keys in a simplistic manner as sort of a signature sound which was annoying and atonal, but as he showed when he was given the status of frontman he was more than capable of playing in a far more pleasing manner.

Little is known of him personally and so the handful of records he cut under his own name are what remains of his legacy.

JOE BLACK DISCOGRAPHY (Records Reviewed To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):

(Derby 721; October, 1949)
This is mostly Freddie Mitchell’s show as he offers a frantic and freewheeling – surely mostly improvised – performance on sax while Black shows he does indeed have a working left hand as he chips in with a rolling piano bass that keeps the energy from lagging. (6)

(Coral 65051; April, 1951)
A generic rock instrumental which is actually high praise for Black as he manages to contribute some solid piano while Freddie Mitchell under cover of darkness handles the bulk of the song employing a slightly thinner sound than his own work on Derby but it works well enough. (5)

(Coral 65051; April, 1951)
A really effective late night mood piece built on Black’s slow delicate piano and an almost sluggish refrain from Mitchell’s sax, this never breaks the spell it casts while somehow keeping the forward momentum going just enough to not stall. (6)

(Coral 65079; January, 1952)
A slightly jazzy instrumental written by and featuring the tenor sax of Budd Johnson, but it’s not his sax or that of Freddie Mitchell, nor Joe Black’s piano, that is the allurement here, as guitarist Jerome Darr steals the show in limited opportunity. (3)