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AUGUST 2000 NUMBER 47


ROSE LEAF CLUB MEETING (7/30/00)
 

The July meeting had a couple of things in common with the June meeting: (a) a hot muggy day, and (b) a good turnout in spite of the heat and somewhat inadequate air conditioning. The program again was primarily ragtime, along with a pleasant seasoning of pop nostalgia.

When we arrived, a sort of prelude was in progress, with Lee Roan and George Mclellan entertaining the early birds with "Margie," "Stumbling," "Who's Sorry Now," and "Jelly Roll Blues." Les Soper contributed "Red Pepper." This was not the Henry Lodge rag of that name, however. (Here's a game for advanced ragophiles: How many rag titles can you think of that are shared by two or more different compositions? Submit your entries to Something Doing for an as yet undetermined prize to the person who submits the most duplicate titles and their composers.)

The official meeting was called to order by Ron Ross, who capably acted as emcee in the absence of Gary Rametta. (Gary will be back this month.) After brief introductory remarks Ron played two of his originals, "Obediah's Jump Suit," and "Ragtime Song."

Next up was Les Soper, who had chosen Joplin's "Chrysanthemum," and Lamb's "Bohemia."

Annette Given, a new performer all the way from Bakersfield, made her Rose Leaf debut with "Maryland," a reflective number by Colm O'Brien, a contemporary ragtimer from Ireland.

Banjoist Hal Groody, fresh from a brunch gig in Arcadia, came to the Rose Leaf Club for his first visit, joining Bill Mitchell on Ford Dabney's "Georgia Grind" (a grind not available at Starbucks), "Grizzly Bear Rag" (Botsford), and "Belle of Louisville" (Frank French).

Ruby Fradkin played "Swipesy Cakewalk" (Marshall/Joplin), "On the Good Ship Lollypop," "The Cascades" (Joplin), and a George M. Cohan medley of "You're a Grand Old Flag" and "I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy." (See the special article on Ruby elsewhere in this issue).

Nancy Kleier performed "Porcupine Rag" (Johnson), "Borneo Rag" (Neil Moret), and "Lovey-Dovey Rag" (Botsford).

It was audience participation time when George McClellan and Lee Roan distributed song sheets for the numbers they would play: "Don't Bring Lulu," and "Carolina in the Morning," two ditties from the 1920s. They played "Lovin' Sam, the Sheik of Alabam" sans lyrics.

After a 15-minute break and the raffle, Les Soper came on as a one-man-band. He set up his washboard and accoutrements and a CD/tape player. He talked briefly about contemporary composer Robin Frost, stressing the brilliance and originality of his whimsically named rags. He provided live percussion for the canned recordings of Frost's "Rolling Avocado" and "Temperature."

George McClellan's solo slot included Irving Berlin's "All By Myself," and George's newest opus, a delightful romp he calls "The Devil's Hayride."

Ruby Fradkin returned to accompany a vocalist, Allen Breiman, who sang "On a Bicycle Built for Two," and "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah." (Breiman likes to render the words in an unidentified language. Russian? Polish? Yiddish? Scat? In any case, quite a novelty.)

Ron Ross encored with "Hello, Mah Baby."

Stan Long played Joplin's "The Entertainer," the piece which was made a hit a few years back by the movie, "The Sting." He then performed an original called "My Ditty."

Tom Handforth, senior member present, played Confrey's "Kitten on the Keys."

Nancy Kleier's encore was "French Vanilla," by P.J. Schmidt, founder of the Rose Leaf Club. It has been a year since P.J. left us, and the August meeting will be dedicated to his memory.

Fred Hoeptner played the haunting "One for Amelia," a piece Max Morath wrote to honor the widow of Joseph F. Lamb. He concluded with Scott's masterpiece, "Grace and Beauty."

Bob Ross did "Sweet Georgia Brown" and sang "Goin' to San Francisco/Kansas City."

Another banjo player, Jimmy Green, dropped in for his first visit. Jimmy plays regularly with Jerry Rothschild at Curley's in Long Beach. Jimmy on banjo, and Les Soper on washboard-plus joined Bill Mitchell to conclude the meeting with "Alexander's Ragtime Band" and "Maple Leaf Rag."
 
 

RUBY FRADKIN HONORED ON LOS ANGELES TELEVISION
 

Nine-year-old Rose Leaf Club performer Ruby Fradkin was the subject of a segment of the evening news Friday, July 28, on KABC. The station honors citizens worthy of recognition for their contributions to the community in a feature spot called "Eyewitness News Salutes..." Ruby was honored for her volunteer work in playing piano for the residents of several retirement homes. She was shown playing at a Jewish home for the aged in Reseda. She was seen playing "Sunrise/Sunset," and "You're a Grand Old Flag." The residents' delight was obvious.

In a close-up, Ruby commented, "Sometimes people sing along to the songs, because they're from the 20s, 30s, and 40s, and some of them start getting up and dancing for a few minutes."

News anchor Harold Greene concluded the segment by saying, "If there were more kids out there like Ruby we'd be a lot better off."

We of the Rose Leaf Club heartily agree, and congratulate Ruby for her good work in bringing cheer to so many lives.
 
 

REVIEW OF MORTEN GUNNAR LARSEN CONCERT

JULY 8 2000 - SAN FRANCISCO

By Ron Ross
 

Elegantly attired in black tie and tails, Morten Gunnar Larsen gave a brilliant and sensitive piano concert at the Richard Reutlinger Victorian home in San Francisco. Larsen is, to me, a master of nuance -- the ebb and flow of volume and tempo that distinguish the truly great pianists. He also adds a great depth of knowledge to his material which he conveys with a delightful sense of humor. The musical experience was enhanced by the setting, a truly remarkable Victorian home, furnished throughout in the style of the 1890's.

Larsen began with a trio of Joplin favorites, "Swipesy," "Palm Leaf Rag" and "Original Rags." I was struck by the way he slowed down "Palm Leaf," which brought out the melodic excellence of this rag, one of my personal Joplin favorites.
 

Next was "Levee Revels" by William Christopher O'Hare, from the early 1890's, followed by some Jelly Roll Morton, which Larsen plays with great understanding of the jazz-oriented flavor of the music as well as the technical excellence required to make it come alive. First, the best title of the night: "Don't Leave Me, Baby, But If You Must Leave Me, Leave Me a Dime For Beer." Next, "The Pearls" (named for a necklace worn by a waitress in Tijuana), and finally, Jelly Roll Morton's arrangement of Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag." I found it jazzy and delightfully inventive and, of course, well-played.
 

The first half of the program wound up with Eubie Blake's masterpiece "Charleston Rag," a lively, pyrotechnical East Coast rag, written in 1899.

The long intermission enabled the crowd of about 70 to enjoy a tour through the house and to sample the sounds from the marvelous music machines Mr. Reutlinger has collected, such as his several "photoplayers" which were used to accompany silent movies and could be operated to play piano, strings, drums, and various special effects to coincide with the action on the screen. We didn't get to see any films, but you could imagine it as you heard the music. Unfortunately, Mr. Reutlinger was out of town and we missed the chance to meet him and thank him for opening his house to these ragtime concerts as he does several times each year.

Morten began part 2 with two quiet, moody piano pieces by Bix Beiderbecke, best known as a great jazz cornetist but who, according to Larsen, began his musical career as a pianist. First, "In the Dark" and then, perhaps his best known piano composition, "In a Mist." Next, an obscure piece by Kurt Weill, written during two years spent in Paris (I did not get the name of this number).

Then came Eubie Blake's "Randi's Rag" written by Blake for his Norwegian tour in the late 1970's. Randi was the first name of the young female journalist who arranged for Eubie to come to Norway

Next came two wonderful David Thomas Roberts pieces-"Waterloo Girls" and "Memories of a Missouri Confederate." My notes indicate: "reflective, beautifully melodic, happy/sad memories-good times interspersed with scenes of hardship and pain as the mood shifts back and forth from major to minor."

Eubie Blake, during an era of intense competition among ragtime pianist-composers, composed a very difficult piece in 1910 called "Troublesome Ivories" which Larsen played to perfection and received a standing ovation from the audience. As an encore, he left us with perhaps the most beautiful piece of music in modern ragtime literature, Roberts' "Roberto Clemente."

Larsen will be in Southern California next summer with the Ophelia Ragtime Orchestra. I strongly recommend this group to any ragtime aficionado who appreciates the orchestral approach to this music. I have been listening and relistening to the group's CD "Echoes from the Snowball Club" and believe Larsen to be a true musical genius, both as a pianist and as an orchestra leader and arranger.
 

JEANNE INGRAM AT THE OLD TOWN MUSIC HALL (7/30/00)
By Bill Mitchell

Versatile pianist Jeanne Ingram was the featured performer in concert at the Old Town Music Hall in El Segundo the last Sunday evening in July. Her program included generous servings of ragtime, waltzes, for trots, a tango, some old pop songs--a nice mix--beginning with the jolly folk rag classic, "Tickled to Death," by Charles Hunter. This was followed by one of the most haunting and bittersweet numbers in the literature of ragtime, "Texas Fox Trot," by David Guion. Turning to some early 20th century popular standards, Ms. Ingram played a medley of "All that I Ask of You Is Love," "When You Were Sweet Sixteen," "There's a Girl in the Heart of Maryland," and "Yip-I-Addy-I-Ay." "Bregerio," a tango by the Brazilian composer Ernesto Nazareth, provided a change of pace. (There seems to be a Nazareth revival -- or is it discovery? -- in progress, championed by advocates like Frank French, Scott Kirby, et al.) "Niantic By the Sea," by the prolific contemporary ragtime composer Galen Wilkes, was given a thoughtful interpretation by Ms. Ingram. "Fluffy Ruffles" was the cutesy title of her next number, a 1909 rag by Duane Crabb. The seldom-heard "Kansas City Blues" by Euday Bowman, composer of "Twelfth Street Rag," was a rag-tinged blues that added yet more variety to the evening.
 

Organist Bill Field manned the console of the Mighty Wurlitzer to accompany Jeanne on some familiar songs: "California, Here I Come," "Melody of Love," "Baby Face" and "For Me and My Gal." Bill Coffman joined them on the Steinway for a pre-intermission finale, "For Me and My Gal."

After intermission Jeanne returned to the Bosendorfer to play "Heliotrope Bouquet," by Louis Chauvin and Scott Joplin. She then played an arrangement of Eubie Blake's classic popular song, "Memories of You."

(I remember Eubie playing it in concert at the OTMH on the very same piano back in the 1970s.) Jeanne followed this with an oldie but goodie from 1921, "I'm Nobody's Baby." She next came up with a title we had never heard of, "Monkey Rag," an item her sister discovered in a stack of old sheet music in a Colorado antique shop. "Monkey Rag" (1911) was composed by Chris Smith, whose "Ballin' the Jack" was very popular. Ballad time again with "When You're Away," a waltz by Victor Herbert's 1917 musical, "The Only Girl." Having done "Kansas City Blues" before intermission, Jeanne gave equal time to "Kansas City Rag," one of James Scott's brilliant pieces. Then came Irving Berlin's "I Love a Piano," and the early Walter Donaldson hit from 1919, "How Ya Gonna Keep ?x2018;Em Down on the Farm?" Bill Coffman on the Steinway joined Jeanne for a duet rendition of Joplin's "Weeping Willow."

At this point Bill Coffman let Jeanne take a rest while he took a few minutes to inform the audience of recent developments concerning the fate of the OTMH. With the rent tripled, it will no longer be feasible to remain in the location they have occupied for three decades in El Segundo. That's the bad news. The good news is that there is a larger theater available in Torrance with several advantages, and that plans are afoot for this change of venue in the foreseeable future.

Then followed a short impromptu segment. At intermission Bill C. asked your reviewer if he would join him and Bill Field on a few trio numbers. Reviewer said yes, and we agreed on three standards: "It's a Sin to Tell a Lie," "On the Sunny Side of the Street," and "I Can't Give You Anything but Love." So with Coffman on Steinway, Field on Wurlitzer, and Mitchell on Bosendorfer, we winged it for a short interlude.

For the finale there was another game of musical chairs, this time with Coffman on Wurlitzer, Ingram on Bosendorfer, and Mitchell on Steinway. The evening ended with thunderous renditions of "Bohemia" and "Maple Leaf Rag," bells and whistles and all.

Those of you that have heard Jeanne Ingram play know that she is a highly accomplished pianist who plays with confidence, accuracy, and sensitivity of expression. She introduced her numbers with concisely prepared remarks about the composers and the pieces chosen. This classy lady gave a fine performance.
 
 

CONTINUING GIGS AND UPCOMING EVENTS

Brad Kay Sunday afternoons, 2-4 p.m., at The Unurban, 3301 W. Pico Boulevard, Santa Monica.

Jerry Rothschild Fri. and Sat., 7-10 p.m. at Curley's Restaurant, corner Willow & Cherry, Signal Hill. (562) 424-0018 Wed., 6-9:30 p.m., European Place (German - Italian restaurant), 16258 Whittier Blvd., (Corner First Ave.), Whittier. (562) 947-3683
 
 

AFTERTHOUGHTS, AFTERGLOW, POSTLUDE, OR WHAT HAVE YOU

Editing this newsletter presents occasional problems. Sometimes there is not enough material, sometimes too much. The latter is the case this month. In order to keep the mailing cost down to a 33-cent stamp I need to limit space to four sheets (eight printed sides). Thus I am holding Fred Hoeptner's extensive review of the Rocky Mountain Ragtime Festival till next month, as well as a poem submitted by Susan Erb.

Thanks go to Ron Ross for his piece on Morten Gunnar Larsen in the current issue. Also thanks are extended to Eric Marchese for regularly proofreading the newsletter. Also thanks to Ron who is the back-up proofreader. It is very easy for your editor to miss a typo or misspell someone's name. (Incidentally, Ms. Ingram's first name is spelled Jeanne, not Jeanie, which I just discovered when chatting with her on the phone this evening.) Thanks also to Darrell Woodruff for his helpful practical advice on production, mailing, and computer intricacies.

Readers are invited to submit reviews of concerts, CDs, books or articles of interest, opinions, suggestions, poems, aphorisms, etc. You can even tell us The Meaning of Life -- as long as it's Ragtime, of course!

Also, if any of you have an itch for editorship you are welcome to take over this operation at any time. If you are in search of a hobby, be my guest. In the meantime, I'll be plugging along.

I hope to see many of you at the August meeting, but I'll probably be late if I make it, since I have a band gig at Knott's Berry Farm that won't be over till at least 3:00 p.m.
 
 

Bill Mitchell, editor. Tel. (714) 528-1534 Internet <jopscolam@home.com> Fax (714) 223-3886