RAGTIME HAPPENINGS IN THE SOUTHLAND
MAY 2000 NUMBER 48
ROSE LEAF CLUB MARCH MEETING (4/30/00)
Our emcee, Gary Rametta, opened the program with that Arthur Marshall/ Scott Joplin favorite, "Swipesy Cakewalk" and followed up with James Scott's last published piece, the heavily scored "Broadway Rag" of 1922.
Bill Mitchell's first selection of the day was "Black and White Rag" (Botsford), very popular during the ragtime era but forgotten until a recording by Wally Rose in 1941 revived it. Bill's second number was "Harmony Rag," by Hal Nichols. The set was rounded out by Joplin's "Ragtime Dance," with the savvy audience providing the designated foot stamps in the breaks.
Ron Ross, who usually plays his own compositions, startled us by opening with Joe Lamb's "Bohemia." He then played his own latest composition, "Song for P.J.,"a tender and bittersweet memorial to the late P.J. Schmidt, founder of the Rose Leaf Club.
Three well-loved standards were chosen by Jack Christopher. "As Time Goes By" was published in 1931, but it didn't go anywhere until used in the WWII movie, "Casablanca," when Sam was asked to play it again. It has been a pop favorite every since. Hoagy Charmichael's "Stardust" never grows old, and Jack included the lovely verse, which is seldom played. "I'll Never Smile Again" was a song that Jack originally didn't like much, but which grew on him. (We've all heard songs that we didn't react to originally, but later came to enjoy. The same for rags.)
Louis Knobbe, a card-carrying member of the Maple Leaf Club although he had never been able to attend a meeting, was a first-time performer at the Rose Leaf Club last month. He opened with "Ragging the Waves." This one was new to me. Can any of you identify it? He followed up with a Randy Newton tune, "One More Hour," and concluded with a James Reese Europe rarity, "The Castle Doggie."
We were honored to have with us Hal Isbitz, one of the most highly regarded of contemporary ragtime and tango composers. Since Hal lives in Santa Barbara, he rarely gets down here for meetings, although he is a member of the club. He chose to play one number, a piece by the Brazilian composer Ernesto Nazareth entitled "Talisman."
Young Ruby Fradkin played the second Carmichael song of the day, "Heart and Soul." She then brought down the house by playing "Swipesy Cakewalk," the first classic rag she has played at the Rose Leaf Club. An excellent performance! She concluded the set with "Sunrise, Sunset," from "Fiddler on the Roof," and the old favorite, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."
Gary played Joplin's "Gladiolus Rag" before announcing an intermission for people to stretch their legs and visit for a few minutes.
Before the music resumed, the monthly drawing was held, with the prizes being a four-month trial subscription to The American Rag, and a CD of pianist Nyle Frank, who played at the April meeting.
Fred Hoeptner opened his set with one of his own pieces, "Dalliance." He continued with Adeline Shepherd's "Pickles and Peppers," which, as Fred commented, was William Jennings Bryan's campaign song when he was running for President. He concluded with "Romp through the Woods," another of his originals.
Yuko Shimazaki continued her exploration of Argentinean tangos with "Indepencia" (A. Bevilacquta) and "Un Momento" (Juan Rodriguez). Both were beautifully played.
Another club member who seldom gets to meetings because she lives on the Central Coast was Andrea Fabula. She duetted with Gary Rametta on "Swipesy" and "Elite Syncopations." She and Bill Mitchell then joined forces on "Belle of Louisville," which has been called "the Maple Leaf Rag" of the nineties." (1990s, that is!)
Lee Roan invited Bill to join him on a couple of oldies, "Margie" and "Darktown Strutters Ball."
Ruby Fradkin returned for a set that included "Tell Me Why," "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah," "Jennie Jenkins," and "Alouette."
Allen Breiman was inspired to sing "Alouette" in Slavic, with Ron Ross on piano. The duo also did "Toot-Toot-Tootsie" and "Yes, Sir, That's My Baby."
Ron soloed on his own "Retro Rag" and "Digital Rag."
Gary played a Joplin masterpiece, "Fig Leaf Rag."
Bill returned with Scott's "Grace and Beauty."
Gary joined Bill for duets on "Maple Leaf Rag," "Possum and Taters," and "Sunflower Slow Drag," bringing the meeting to a conclusion.
P.S.: After the meeting Gary played a neat rendition of "Original Jelly Roll Blues," by, you guessed it, Jelly Roll Morton.
DEAN MORA CONCERT AT OLD TOWN MUSIC HALL (4/30/00)
(With thanks to Lee Roan for information and comments)
The first half of Dean Mora's solo concert consisted of a variety of piano music, which bypassed so-called "classic" and popular ragtime in favor of some overlooked material from pre-ragtime and the post-ragtime, novelty piano eras.
He opened with the rousing "Dawn of the Century March," by E. T. Paull, whose sheet music is prized by collectors for its florid art work. "Levee Revels," by William Christopher O'Hare, was revealed to be a haunting piece from 1898. "Doc Brown's Cake Walk" was an early effort by the prolific Kansas City composer, Charles L. Johnson. "Live Wires Rag" was by Adeline Shepard, composer of the better-known "Pickles and Peppers."
Leaping forward to the 1920s, Mora played a handful of Zez Confrey numbers, including "Charleston Chuckles," "Novelette," "Giddy Diddy," and "Lullaby from Mars." He concluded the first half of his concert with "Jack Frost Gallop," by George Warren.
Mora played all of the above on the fabulous Bosendorfer grand piano. Lee comments that "...on some of these pieces his hands and fingers were a blur -- he must have been a hummingbird in a past life!! And he was sick (as in ill) to boot! Zez Confrey isn't exactly noted for composing slow, easy-to-play numbers."
"Following the piano concert, and after a 15-minute recess, he returned to play the Wurlitzer organ ... first, a medley of several familiar tunes which none of us, including Dean, could recall all their names, but they sounded great."
"An extra surprise treat was the showing of a Laurel and Hardy silent film with Dean playing the accompaniment on the Wurlitzer, complete with sound effects, and beautifully in sync with the movie. All by ear, no music score. It was hard to both listen to the music and to follow the movie plot. My little brain has only one track. The movie was 'Finishing Touch,' about a pair (L. & H.) commissioned to complete a house that was under construction. As you can guess, it ended up being totally destroyed."
"Dean closed the performance by playing 'El Segundo by the Sea,' and dedicating it to the mayor of El Segundo, who was in the audience."
"I'd highly recommend attendance at any future Dean Mora concerts. He makes interesting commentaries about the numbers he plays, and throws in some good humor with them. He's a good entertainer and excellent performer."
MAGNETIC RAGTIME ORCHESTRA CONCERT AT OLD TOWN MUSIC HALL (5/7/00)
By Ron Ross
This excellent aggregation of musicians has been together, in one form or another, since the early 80s when Galen Wilkes formed the Palm Leaf Ragtime orchestra. Dean Mora introduced the individual numbers and played piano. Nancy Bremner is the group's leader since its beginnings in the early 90s.
To begin the evening, Bill Coffman complained that Dean was a minute late, and asked if anyone wanted a refund. There were no takers of this generous offer, so the music began. First up was Charles Johnson's classic "Dill Pickles" from 1906, followed by a very obscure item written by Mark Williams in 1905, entitled "Pig Ankles: A Grotesque Rag." Then the familiar "Chatterabox Rag" from 1910, by George Botsford.
Next came Scott Joplin's "Weeping Willow," orchestrated by Robin Frost, as commissioned by Bill Coffman. I noticed an exceptionally clever passage in this arrangement where the flute and clarinet interacted quite beautifully.
Jodi Gladstone then sang the first of her five songs, "Home in Pasadena," orchestrated by Gerry Kuhn, the group's trombone player. This was followed by "Creole Belles," (J. Bodewalt Lampe) and "Dusty Rag," by Mae Aufderheide (arr. by Ribe Danmark).
Next came and E. J. Stark arrangement of Joplin's "Elite Syncopations" (1909), then Jodi favored us with "After You've Gone" (Creamer & Turner - 1918).
Dean Mora surprised the audience with a tune from 1914 that he had recently discovered -- "The Bayside Fox Trot" written by Jesse Wynn for an all-women's orchestra to play for the Bayside Yacht Club in Maine -- a delightfully bouncy little number.
Personnel: Dean Mora, piano; Nancy Bremner, violin/leader; Bill Masonheimer, tuba; Robin Neenan, cello; Brian Tajiri, percussion; Jim La Sota, flute/piccolo; Jim Lathers, clarinet; Gerry Kuhn, trombone; Andrew Surmani, cornet; and Jody Gladstone, cornet/vocals.
Next, we heard Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag" (1899) followed by a little known tango called "Delicioso" written by Will Dixon in 1914. Mora told us that Boston and other cities actually banned the tango during part of the ragtime era, as being lascivious and immoral. Next, we heart "Everybody Rag with Me" (1914), music by Grace LeBoy (lyrics, not sung here, were by her husband, Gus Kahn).
In the second half, we heard Lucien Denny's "Red Devil Rag" (1910), Joplin and Hayden's "Sunflower Slow Drag" (1901), Charles Young's "Rhinoceros Rag" (1912) and Jodi Gladstone's vocal rendition of the almost-risqué "Billy" (Kendis and Paley, 1911).
The orchestra whipped up an especially lively version of Edward Claypool's "Ragging the Scale" (1915). This was followed by Jelly Roll Morton's "Jelly Roll Blues" (1915). Ted Snyder's "Wild Cherries Rag" (1908), and "California, Here I Come," the Al Jolson, Buddy De Sylva, Joseph Meyer collaboration of 1924 (orch. arrangement by Gerry Kuhn).
The nostalgic "Old-Timers Waltz" from 1917 had us all trying to guess the several different turn-of-the-century waltzes included in this medley -- "The Bowery," "The Sidewalks of New York," "Sweet Rosie O'Grady," "Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for two)," "Comrades," "Little Annie Laurie," "The Band Played On," and "After the Ball.) Jodi sang George Cobb's 1915 classic, "Alabama Jubilee" as her final number; the orchestra played a spirited march, "They're Off," by Charles Steinhauser (1893), and finally, as the coup de grace, the piece de resistance, and always worth the price of admission, Bill Coffman joined the orchestra on the giant Wurlitzer for the Joplin and Marshall rouser, "Swipesy Cakewalk" with all the bells and whistles (not to mention xylophones, upright pianos, cymbals, klaxon, bird calls and the Chinese gong). The encore was a terrific version of Joseph Lamb's "Bohemia" (1919) sending an enthusiastic, good-sized audience home happy.
As for my overall impressions, I would have liked to hear more from the piano, which seems to get drowned out by the other instruments. I especially enjoyed the work of the woodwinds; but all played exceedingly well and I can heartily recommend the Magnetic Ragtime Orchestra.
A BAG OF RAGS
Your editor participated in the San Clemente Jazz Festival Sat., May 13, playing two sets with his trio, the Albany Nightboat Ragtimers. With him were Hal Groody, banjo, and Ray Cadd, tuba. Among the tunes they played were "Alexander's Ragtime Band," "A Bag of Rags," "The Pearls," "When You Wore a Tulip," "Georgia Grind," "Pineapple Rag," "St. Louis Blues," "Grizzly Bear Rag," "Grace and Beauty," "Porcupine Rag," "Red Wing," "Swipesy Cakewalk," "Old Fashioned Love," "Belle of Louisville," "Mandy," "Ragtime Oriole," "Someday, Sweetheart," "The Entertainer," "Ballin' the Jack," "Sweet Sue," "Bill Bailey," etc. etc.
Bill Mitchell, editor Tel. (714) 528-1534 Internet <firstname.lastname@example.org> Fax (714) 223-3886